Course Title: Law, Business and Human Rights

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Law, Business and Human Rights

Credit Points: 12.00

Course Coordinator: Dr Jonathan Kolieb & Dr Shelley Marshall

Course Coordinator Phone: -

Course Coordinator Email: &

Course Coordinator Location: Building 13

Course Coordinator Availability: By appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

Assumed Knowledge - Becoming a Lawyer in a Globalised World, Principles of Company Law

Course Description

This course focuses on the impact of business activities on human rights. It studies accountability mechanisms for those impacts in international and domestic law, and the business obligations and techniques for behaving ethically and sustainably. 

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


Upon successful completion of this course, you will:

CLO1: Assess the 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: Reflect on the effectiveness of judicial and non-legal mechanisms for encouraging change in individual and business behaviour.

CLO3: Suggest innovative solutions to assist corporate managers, aggrieved community members and other stakeholders to achieve greater respect for human rights by businesses.

CLO4: Critique theories relevant to human rights governance and practice, especially as applied in the business context.

CLO5: Reflect on ethical and legal dilemmas that may arise in modern business environments.

CLO6: Communicate in ways that are effective, appropriate and persuasive for legal and non-legal audiences, and collaborate effectively.

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 MyRMIT Studies\Canvas. The lecture notes and workshop notes are posted on Canvas.

Resources are also available online through RMIT Library databases and other facilities. Visit the RMIT library website for further details. Assistance is available online via our chat and email services, face to face at our campus libraries or via the telephone on (03) 9925 2020.

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

The assessment tasks, their weighting and the course learning outcomes to which they are aligned are as follows:

Assessment Task 1: 30%
Linked CLOs: 1, 3, 4

Assessment Task 2: 25%
Linked CLOs: 2, 4, 5, 6

Assessment Task 3: 45%
Linked CLOs: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Feedback will be provided throughout the semester in class and/or in online forums through individual and group feedback on practical exercises and by individual consultation.