autumn 2022
SOA-2008 Minorities, Culture and Human Rights - 10 ECTS

Application deadline

Applicants from Nordic countries: 1 June for the autumn semester and 1 December for the spring semester.

Exchange students and Fulbright students: 1 October for the spring semester and 15 April for the autumn semester.

Type of course

Type of course

The course can be taken as a singular course.

Admission requirements

Admission requirementsApplication code (for Nordic students): 9199

Course content

Course contents

Cultural relativism, a key anthropological concept, holds that right and wrong are defined from within a cultural context and that it is not possible to develop moral principles that apply to all cultures and all situations. From this perspective, the notion of universal human rights, which apply in the same way to every human being, can be seen as an imposition of "western" values and standards upon the world. Anthropological debates about universalism vs cultural relativism have become more nuanced and sophisticated in recent decades. The relationship between collective and individual rights has also been an important focus. Anthropologists have applied the hallmark method of the discipline - long-term fieldwork and participant observation - to deepen understanding of the meaning of human rights at local, national, and international levels. Some have also engaged in activist research with communities, joining them in local and global struggles for minority rights.

This course will trace the anthropological debates about Human Rights, looking at theoretical concepts, juridical frameworks and international norms. We will discuss methodological approaches to the study of human rights and related ethical issues. The emphasis will be on minority rights, including indigenous peoples, national minorities, gender minorities and refugees - and the intersections of these categories.

Recommended prerequisites

SOA-1001 Understanding cultures. Introduction to Social Anthropology

Objectives of the course

Objective of the course

Successful completion of the course will lead to the following learning outcomes:


  • Basic understanding of the history of anthropological thought regarding Human Rights
  • Deep understanding of the concepts of Cultural Relativism and Universalism, and the balance between them, as they apply to Human Rights questions.
  • Have a good understanding of indigenous minority relations to majorities and governments.


  • Use of analytical tools to understand general processes of social categorisation and differentiation
  • To apply a comparative perspective to indigenous/minority conditions worldwide

General competence:

  • Ability to apply all of these tools to global debates on Human Rights in general, and on specific cases involving indigenous/minority rights
  • Be able to reflect critically on debates regarding cultural relativism and universalism related to human rights
  • Ability to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of Human Rights discourses for the prospects of indigenous peoples' self-determination, gender-based rights, and other minority rights cases.  

Language of instruction and examination

Language of instruction

The lectures and the exam questions will be given in English, but students will be allowed to answer the exam questions in Norwegian. Coursework-assignments can be writing in Norwegian or English.

Teaching methods

Teaching methods

8 lectures and 4 seminars, 2 hours each.  

Information to incoming exchange students

There are no academic prerequisites to add this module in your Learning Agreement

Do you have questions about this module? Please check the following website to contact the course coordinator for exchange students at the faculty:


Examination: Date: Duration: Grade scale:
Off campus exam 26.10.2022 09:00 (Hand out)
02.11.2022 13:00 (Hand in)
1 Weeks A–E, fail F

Coursework requirements:

To take an examination, the student must have passed the following coursework requirements:

Assignments Approved – not approved
UiT Exams homepage

More info about the coursework requirements

There will be two assignments during the course, both must be approved in order to take the final exam. The assignments may be written in either English or Norwegian. The students will receive all further details in class.

Re-sit examination

If the students get the grade F, a re-sit exam will be given the following semester.
  • About the course
  • Campus: Tromsø |
  • ECTS: 10
  • Course code: SOA-2008
  • Tidligere år og semester for dette emnet