Module and Programme Catalogue

Search site

Find information on

2023/24 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

PIED5548M The Responsibility to Protect

30 creditsClass Size: 20

Module manager: Professor Cristina Stefan

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

This module explores in depth the contemporary debates related to the 'Responsibility to Protect’ (R2P) international norm, focusing on steps taken to meet that responsibility in situations where vulnerable populations are threatened with atrocity crimes. The module has two parts: Part One explores debates surrounding the formulation and evolution of R2P as an international norm. It examines how R2P has (or has not) influenced international decision-making, asking in particular how the 2011 intervention in Libya influenced perceptions of international responsibility. It discusses various levels where R2P could reside, ranging from general (e.g. international, regional) towards more specific (e.g. states that might have a 'special' responsibility to protect). It also considers how R2P relates to other international agendas with complementary aims, such as atrocity prevention, international criminal justice, and gender. Part Two applies the knowledge gathered in Part One to examine specific situations where vulnerable populations face the ongoing threat of atrocity crimes. Students have the opportunity to research and report on topical issues, addressing the following three aspects in regard to ongoing case situations: what has been done; what is being done; and, what should be done to protect vulnerable populations in that one specific crisis.


This module explores in depth the contemporary debates related to the 'Responsibility to Protect/, (R2P) doctrine of protection, which is one of the most important developments in world politics in the last decades. The module provides students with an in-depth understanding of the key legal, political, ethical issues surrounding R2P. It starts with the context within which the idea of R2P took shape, and addresses the existing bodies of theory concerned with the nature of protection and the foundations of the political and international order, including theoretical debates and controversies that are relevant to R2P and international protection in mass atrocity situations. The students will explore, in detail, the strength, effectiveness and legitimacy of the R2P norm by examining its influence on past crises, as well as investigating how states and civil societies should fulfil their responsibilities with respect to ongoing crises. On completion of this module, student will have an advanced understanding of debates, policies and challenges in this area, and practised in the delivery of policy-relevant analysis.

Learning outcomes
-Acquire a masterly awareness of key academic debates on international protection in cases of mass atrocity, and on The Responsibility to -Protect;
-Demonstrate the ability to apply theoretical concepts on R2P to the analysis of contemporary cases of mass atrocities, and develop an ability to compare and contrast different case studies of mass atrocity crimes;
-Show an understanding of some of the key policy debates within international and regional organisations (the UN, EU, AU) relevant to the implementation of the R2P and its political nature;
-Thoroughly understand the distinct elements of the Three Pillars of the R2P, and how they relate to key concepts such as sovereignty, legitimacy, the use of force, and international law;
-Develop appropriate communicative, research, and transferable skills including an ability to evaluate advanced concepts, to present reasoned and effective arguments in written and oral form, to show critical judgement, and to pursue independent learning.


Syllabus Outline

Part One covers the following topics:
• R2P as a response to the humanitarian crises of the 1990s
• R2P as a norm
• R2P in Libya and Syria
• Where does the responsibility lie? From general to ‘special’ responsibilities
• R2P as Atrocity prevention
• R2P and the International Criminal Court
• R2P and Gender
Part Two includes reporting on ongoing situations, with specific cases chosen for group presentations and reporting in the first few weeks of teaching, contingent on current concerns and ongoing conflicts. All cases will address the following three aspects: what has been done/is being done/should be done to protect in that specific situation.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours278.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Private study

This module requires private and independent study. The module outline will have a very detailed list of recommended literature, which will need to be consulted for assessed group presentation (2 students per group) as well as assessed written assignments.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students will receive feedback on an essay plan in week 7 of the module. Feedback will be given on the presentations during seminars. Furthermore, the module leader will also monitor student progression informally through seminars by observing students/, engagement, understanding of topics at hand and discussion points, and class participation.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 X 3000 Essay (End of Term)70.00
Presentation1 x 1500 Report and Group Presentation (Mid Term)30.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Verbal Presentation as part of the group presentation assessment. Group presentation takes place in specific weeks in the term.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 22/01/2024 12:46:04


Browse Other Catalogues

Errors, omissions, failed links etc should be notified to the Catalogue Team.PROD

© Copyright Leeds 2019