Course Title: Business and Human Rights

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Business and Human Rights

Credit Points: 12.00

Course Coordinator: Jonathan Kolieb and Shelley Marshall

Course Coordinator Phone: -

Course Coordinator Email: -

Course Coordinator Location: -

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

Required Prior Study 

LAW1019  Introduction to Australian Legal System and Legal Methods


BUSM1530 Leadership and Management 

Course Description

This course focuses on the impact on human rights of business activities, particularly those of transnational corporations, and accountability mechanisms for those impacts in international and domestic law.

It is widely recognised that businesses cannot ignore the impacts of their conduct on the human rights of their workers, suppliers, customers and communities in which they operate. At the same time, many companies recognise the strategic value to their business, as well as to society, in enhancing respect for human rights.

To address these important matters, the field of Business and Human Rights is becoming increasingly popular in scholarly, activist and business circles. This is especially so since the unanimous adoption of the UN “Protect, Respect, Remedy” Framework and its associated Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. A growing body of hard and soft law, both international and domestic, is clarifying the scope and content of corporate human rights obligations. This course will focus on some of the most critical legal and practical issues surrounding efforts to advance corporate responsibility for human rights and accountability for abuses they contribute to.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development


On successful completion of this course you will be able to:

CLO1: Demonstrate an understanding of, and challenges in realising, the human rights obligations of modern corporations, States’ duty to achieve greater business respect for human rights, and victims’ rights to seek redress for human rights abuses committed by companies.

CLO2:  Critically evaluate the human rights obligations of modern corporations, and suggest innovative solutions to assist corporate managers, aggrieved community members and other stakeholders to achieve greater respect for human rights by businesses.   

CLO3:  Critique theories relevant to human rights governance and practice, especially as applied in the business context.

CLO4: Reflect on ethical and legal dilemmas that may arise in modern business environments.

CLO5: Show effective, appropriate and persuasive presentation, collaboration and communication skills for legal and non-legal audiences while working in a team.

Overview of Learning Activities

Students will engage in a series of interactive weekly seminars developing research, presentation and teamwork skills as well as a substantive understanding of the topics. 

In this course you will be encouraged to be an active learner. Your learning will be supported through various in-class and online activities comprising individual and group work. These will include assignments; prescribed readings; researching and analysing specific information; solving problems; conducting presentations; producing written work and collaborating with peers on set tasks or projects. Active and constructive participation in group discussions is expected in addition to weekly reading and careful planning of assessment tasks. 

Overview of Learning Resources

Various learning resources are available online through the RMIT Learning Hub (Canvas). These include seminar slides, assessment details, links to relevant internet information, readings and communication tools to facilitate collaboration with your peers.

Resources are also available online through RMIT Library databases and other facilities. If you require assistance with the RMIT library facilities contact the Business Liaison Librarian for your school. Contact details for Business Liaison Librarians are located online on the RMIT library website.

Additional resources and/or sources to assist your learning will be identified by your course coordinator and will be made available to you as required during the teaching period.

Overview of Assessment

There are three assessment tasks:

Assessment Task

Weighting (%)

Linked CLOs

Task 1: Blog post/short essay on a topic related to Business and Human Rights (1500 words) + Peer Commentary (600 words) + Response Blog, addressing the peer commentary (600 words)


1, 3, 4

Task 2: Research and develop a policy proposal and/or report for a simulated or real consulting client related to business’ respect for human rights/Research essay.  (3500 words)


2, 3, 4, 5

Task 3: Team presentation of report (15mins) + 3 minute video (animation, slide show etc) summarising the main points.


2, 4, 5