American University of Central Asia - AUCA - Course Descriptions

Course Descriptions


Description of Human Rights Program Courses

100 Level Courses

HR 100 – Introduction to Human Rights

“Intro to Human Rights” is a 3 credit core course for students who are pursuing the Human Rights concentration. This course offers an introduction to contemporary human rights discourses in their broader historical and theoretical contexts. It enables students to understand the basic philosophy of human rights, principles and place of human rights in the modern world. Students acquire essential knowledge of substantive areas of human rights; the emergence of human rights as such, their historical background, sources and legal-institutional development. Furthermore, it examines the philosophical background of the contested categories making up the terms, “human” and “rights”. It explores the philosophical, political, legal, and cultural dimensions of the claims made by these terms. Finally, students consider the foundations of rights claims, the legal and violent ways of advancing, defending and enforcing rights, and human rights instruments and institutions.

200 Level Courses

LAW/ HR  - Visual Legal Advocacy: Human Rights in the digital world  

Visual legal advocacy: human rights in the digital world is a dynamic combination of human rights and advocacy. The digital world is being filled with various human rights related advocacy videos, photos, films and other artistic world. However, there is no definite answer on what role advocacy plays in promoting and advocating human rights. As a hybrid model, this course will engage students in the world of visual advocacy where they will see the nexus between promotion of human rights on one hand and the compelling elements of human rights advocacy on the other. This course will introduce students to recent thought-provoking, engaging and professionally crafted doctrinal sources in the field of human rights from various parts of the world. Furthermore course is contracted in a way to enable students visualize the legal doctrine by analyzing de facto violations of human rights  by depicting and promoting them through different advocacy tools. Areas of rights covered by the course include the most heatedly debated areas of human rights such as limitations, freedom of speech, prohibition of torture, war on terror and other rights in the field of socio-economic rights. By the end of the course students are expected to generate short advocacy films by raising voice on various human rights issues.

LAW 231 – International Criminal Law

Widespread violations of human rights have become a common practice in the contemporary world. Thus, the growing concern of the international community has resulted in a demand for international criminal persecution of those who committed grave and heinous breaches of international human rights and humanitarian laws. The course will explore the dynamic development of this procedure, where impunity has been replaced with international criminal accountability of individuals in various historical trials. Namely, it will address the particularities of so-called historical trials, the multiple functions this type of trials are expected to accomplish and the difficulties they are faced with. Following a brief description of the historical background of the creation of the International Criminal Court and the analysis of the operation of the Nuremberg Military Tribunal, the ad-hoc international tribunals and hybrid and internationalized courts, the procedure to be followed by the ICC will be discussed in detail in the light of grave violations of human rights. Furthermore, students will also be able to employ multi-faceted views on international criminal law, namely from the perspectives of victims of crimes and fair-trial rights of defendants.

LAW 236 - International Public Law I

This course is intended to introduce students to the basic concepts and problems of advanced issues of public international law.  The course will cover traditional topics of sources of international law, concept of state, and concept of state responsibility, international human rights and other topics.  The course will review and discuss a number of international law cases as well as certain treaties, resolutions and other international legal instruments of importance.  Upon successful completion of this course, students should have a sound working familiarity with the basic principles of sub branches of public international law.

LAW 258 – International Humanitarian Law

The course aims to serve as an introduction to the international humanitarian law (hereinafter IHL). Basic notions and theories of IHL as a legal discourse shall be provided with a special focus on the sources and principles of IHL and the field of application of IHL: international and non-international armed conflicts, protected persons, protected properties, those with special protection, and prohibited actions in armed conflicts, the protection of cultural properties, restricting or banning the use of certain arms, the duties of all parties in applying international humanitarian law, IHL and governmental and international organizations and other issues.

ICP - Politics of Human Rights/ Theory and Politics of Human Rights

The course is intended to explore the complex relationship between human rights and politics. Many actors in the field of human rights are persuaded that human rights work can be independent from politics. However, this course is intended to make students step out of the human rights paradigm and analyze “human rights” as a particular phenomenon in the political universe. Accordingly, it offers a possibility to make sense of human rights work as a coherent series of progressive political choices.

ANTH - International Development: Donors, NGOs, Communities and Culture

The development effort has been going on a global scale for more than half a century by now involving the governments of developed and developing nations, bilateral and multilateral institutions, international and local non-governmental organizations, and local communities in the attempt to improve the living conditions of people in the less fortunate corners of the world. The development narrative is now full of stories of success and failure. Many studies have been carried out on the analysis of development initiative and one of the main reasons of failures is seen in the standardized universal approach and projects that do not take into account the uniqueness of local cultural context. Anthropologists arrive at the scene as experts with the knowledge of local communities and local traditions. What makes such knowledge useful and how can anthropologists engage successfully in helping communities improve their lives and solve their problems are the main questions of this course.

This course will introduce students to the field of development and to the role that anthropologists play in it. It will look at the history of development effort and evolution of its concept and will analyze major theories of development. It will review major directions of the development work, such as participatory development, use of indigenous knowledge, micro-credit schemes, natural and cultural resources management, politics of development, etc. It will introduce students to the nature of development projects and main principles of working with the communities, donors and local governments. Finally, this course will introduce students to the development discourse in the context of Central Asia. Currently, Kyrgyzstan, due to favorable political climate, large numbers of international and local development organizations and thousands of realized development initiatives, can be seen almost like a development lab of Central Asia. Guest lecturers from development organizations will be invited. All in all, this course will be essential for anthropology students thinking of a career in applied anthropology and interested in the contemporary issues of developing nations.

300 Level Courses

ICP 309 – Development Aid and Politics

The course is aimed at giving an overview of political aspects of the foreign aid. It will cover this through discussion of how political processes affect aid depending on donors’ mandate, status, a geopolitical situation, etc. A considerable part of the course would cover issues of interrelation between recipient country’s political situation and development aid. The course would be heavily based on practical cases which would supplement some theoretical overview of development and its political aspects.

ES 301 – Multicultural Societies: Religious and Social Conflicts in Europe

The question of multiculturalism has been central to the political concerns of European countries since the end of the Second World War. This course will explore the themes of multiculturalism, racism, prejudice, discrimination, religious, racial and ethnic inequalities, cultural identities, and immigration. It starts with the conceptualization of multiculturalism.

The objective of the course is to present theoretical and practical framework of multicultural societies and religious & social conflicts in contemporary Europe. The course will also analyze major political and legal instruments in the European Union. It will be examined both at the national level in Europe and at the EU level.

ANTH 320 – Ethnicity and Identity

Recently more people have identified themselves with a particular ethnic group. Ethnicity became an important source of identity. On the one hand, ethnicity has been challenged by national and state identity. On the other, ethnic groups have threatened the integrity and security of multiethnic states, while ethnic conflicts disturbed the world order.

The course will discuss definitions, methods and main approaches to the study of ethnicity and ethnic identity, ethnic stratification and ethnic relations in multiethnic states. It will explore the relationship between ethnicity and culture, ethnicity and race, ethnicity and nationalism, ethnicity and democracy. The course will discover the origins of ethnic conflicts, the ways of its prevention and resolution, and finally the contradiction existing between ethnicity and globalization.

The knowledge and skills obtained during the course will be helpful in understanding and evaluating the situations with ethnicity in various multiethnic countries.

LAW 323 - International Human Rights Law

 The course examines the international law of human rights—its origin, sources, content, enforcement, and justifications. It also provides an overview of the legal recognition and protection of human rights within various countries. Part one introduces the idea of rights from the historical, philosophical, and analytical perspectives. Part two, being the main part of the course, is devoted to a study of the detailed contents of the international human rights law as found in international treaties, customary international law, and other sources of law. This part explores the substantive doctrine – the "primary rules of conduct" – as well as the "procedural" aspects of international human rights, such as adjudication and remedies. Part three explores issues relating to selected rights from a comparative (international and other national law) perspective.

ES 300 – European Law and Human Rights

The “European Union Law and Human Rights” is an advanced level required course. The course is divided into three main sections. In the first section, students are exposed to the composition, function, and powers of the European Union’s legislative and executive branches. In the second section of the course, we study the free movement of goods as one of the fundamental freedoms and key elements of the European integration. The third section of the course specifically covers the Council of Europe and European Human Rights Law, exploring the legal process and substantive law pursuant to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of the Council of Europe. The course introduces students to the legal system and institutions of the European Union, its interaction with Member States’ law and policy. During this course we specifically address basic principles and rules of the European Community with the focus on decision-making, supremacy, and human rights.

ANTH 355 – Anthropology of Violence

This course is introduction to the anthropology of violence. Why do people kill, abuse and threaten to? Is it your responsibility or others to prevent violence and stop it? These and other questions will be discussed through the examination of different theoretical conceptions and practical acts of violence happened in the human society in the past and present. Students will acquire knowledge about “symbolic”, “structural”, “communal” and “everyday” violence and their implications to economic and political, racial and gender, state and identity issues. They will also think and learn the positive and possible sources for peace and conflict resolution.

Research Methods

The “Research Methods” course is designed to teach students the skills necessary for high-level research, writing, and analysis. In the course of class meetings students study the fundamental principles of effective writing and learn to apply them in the process of developing and completing their senior project proposals. The drafting process helps students improve their critical thinking, reading, and writing skills as well as assists in understanding key components of a research based writing. Most importantly, students are expected to learn how to formulate a research question and thesis statement, develop a working knowledge of relevant literature, identify and analyze research problems, organize their research strategy, follow concrete citation guidelines and avoid plagiarism, employ available research methods as well as be aware of appropriate style and tone.


Students who undertake internship receive on-site experience, gain valuable insight about what is being done on a day-to-day basis, and get a better understanding of how to shape their own career paths. Through these work experiences, students receive the opportunity to increase their knowledge of substantive and procedural issues, learn to apply analytical skills in real world situations, improve research skills, polish oral performance, research, and writing skills, and begin, if possible, to develop a professional network of contacts which could be essential to securing employment after graduation.

400 Level Courses

400 – Senior Research Seminar

The course on “Senior Research Seminar” is aimed at facilitating students’ work toward a senior project – the most significant piece of writing that they undertake during their senior year of studies and the most important intellectual challenge that they need to meet in order to learn how to produce an original, independent research. Students are engaged in the further substantive development of their research topic, research question and thesis statement, analysis of research problems and organization of an effective research strategy.

401 – Thesis Research

During the course on “Thesis Research” students are substantively engaged in individual work with their supervisors on writing and completing their senior projects.

American University of Central Asia
7/6 Aaly Tokombaev Street
Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic 720060

Tel.: +996 (312) 915000 + Еxt.
Fax: +996 (312) 915 028
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