Business and Human Rights

Postgraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content

Business has significant impacts on human rights. Companies create jobs and pay taxes that generate resources used to create the infrastructure needed for people to realise their human rights. However, corporate conduct can also adversely affect the rights of workers, consumers, and communities. The UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights provides a universal framework for companies to operate in a way that respects human rights. 

This course provides a better appreciation of interplay between business and human rights, including business impacts, positive and adverse, regardless of corporate intent. The course does this by examining international human rights standards, ethical norms and legal principles, corporate duties, and expectations of companies. Focus will be on the dilemmas of operating in spaces where local standards and rules may vary from and sometimes contradict global standards or policies. 

Senior company executives will speak about how they address dilemmas and conduct due diligence. The course will also explore initiatives designed to deal with human rights and business. The course deals with contemporary challenges of climate, transitions, conflict, technology, and concerns including discrimination.

The course will enable students to develop better understanding of what companies can and cannot do, developing corporate strategies consistent with international human rights standards, and to identify policies and practices that respect and do not undermine human rights.

Learning Outcomes

A candidate who has completed his or her qualification should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:


  • Demonstrate a thorough knowledge of human rights standards and of how they apply to companies.
  • Demonstrate a specialised understanding of the human rights challenges facing companies.
  • Understand how to identify if practises are consistent with human rights standards.


  • Analyse why corporate conduct arouses suspicion in many parts of the world.
  • Discuss and assess possible solutions regarding the human rights challenges facing companies.
  • Develop strong, sophisticated approaches based on assessment methods and tools companies use in order to ensure respect for human rights.

General competence

  • Understand the human rights challenges companies face.
  • Communicate and evaluate these challenges on a detailed and sophisticated level.
  • Explore various options of engagement with human rights, including with organisations that may be opposed to certain companies

ECTS Credits


Level of Study

Continuing education, master-level

Semester of Instruction


Place of Instruction

Hybrid. Digital and physical lectures.
Required Previous Knowledge
Bachelor degree or the equivalent, and 2 years of relevant full time employment. 
Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap
No credit reduction
Access to the Course
Open for students fulfilling the admission criteria.
Teaching and learning methods
Lectures and seminars
Compulsory Assignments and Attendance
Attendance is not mandatory. It is mandatory to submit a draft of the the exam mid-semester.
Forms of Assessment

Semester paper of max. 4500 words assigned at the beginning of the semester.

The exam will be given in the language in which the course is taught.

The exam can be submitted in English. It is also possible to submit in Norwegian, Swedish or Danish.

Grading Scale
Graded A-F  
Assessment Semester


A retake exam for either parts of the exam is arranged for students with valid absence according to § 5-5 of the Study Regulations at UiB. If a retake exam are arranged for students with valid absence, students with the following results can also register:

  • Interruption during the exam
  • Fail/Not passed

If you qualify for the retake exam and a retake exam is arranged for students with valid absence, you can register yourself in Studentweb after January 15.

Course Evaluation
All courses are evaluated according to UiB's system for quality assurance of education.