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Undergraduate level Module: Critically analysing the Responsibility to Protect (search: PIED 3504)

The University of Leeds is the only university to offer a course at the undergraduate level dedicated exclusively to studying the topic of the Responsibility to Protect. Critically analysing the responsibility to protect is a third level undergraduate module offered in the School of Politics and International Studies (POLIS) at the University of Leeds.

Module leader: Professor Jason Ralph (ECR2P Founding Director)

The module focuses on the Responsibility to Protect agreement which was unanimously endorsed at the United Nations in 2005. It sets out a responsibility to protect people the world over from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. Since then, the United Nations has invoked the Responsibility to Protect in over 50 UN Security Council Resolutions as it engages with mass violence in countries such as Iraq, Libya, Syria, Central African Republic, Sudan, South Sudan, Mali, and the Democratic Republic of Congo - to name just a few. The increase in mass violence around the world raises critical questions for the Responsibility to Protect and the United Nations. Amidst this reality, experts and policymakers remain divided over whether the Responsibility to Protect is a helpful or harmful agreement. The teachers on this module are part of the European Centre for the Responsibility to Protect which was launched at the University of Leeds in December 2016. They introduce students to cutting edge research, guest speakers, a student coalition on the Responsibility to Protect and offer the chance to publish their essay in the student coalition's online journal.


This module aims to provide students with an advanced knowledge of the contemporary debates that surround the Responsibility to Protect. In so doing, it will provide students with an in-depth understanding of the issues that surround prevention and prosecution through a focus on case studies, the emergence of the R2P as a norm

Learning outcomes

Demonstrate appropriate cognitive, communicative, and transferable skills including an ability to evaluate advanced concepts, to employ  primary and secondary sources, to present reasoned and effective arguments in written and oral form, to pursue independent learning and to show critical judgement

Understand key concepts such as legitimacy, international law, sovereignty, and humanitarian intervention.

Demonstrate an ability to compare and contrast different case studies of mass atrocity crimes