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OxfordX: (English) International Standards on Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists

This Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is co-organised by the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights (Faculty of Law, University of Oxford) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). It explores the regional and international standards relating to freedom of expression, including press freedom, access to public information, safety of journalists and challenges created by the digital world.

(English) International Standards on Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists
7 weeks
1–3 hours per week
Instructor-led on a course schedule
This course is archived

About this course

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The MOOC will run between 29 May and 30 June 2023 and will comprise a series of 5 weekly online modules. It will be delivered in the six official languages of the United Nations (UN), i.e. in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish, as well as in Portuguese.

The course will be free and open to all. It will especially relevant for judicial actors (e.g. judicial branches, public ministries, public defenders, electoral courts, human rights ombudsmen, judicial law clerks) from all justice systems, as well as to journalists, academics, and other professionals across the world.

The course will draw on the UNESCO Toolkit for Judges and Judicial Actors on Freedom of Expression Standards and other materials. It will build on the successful Bonavero Institute-UNESCO MOOC on Freedom of Expression which was delivered in English in 2021, as well as on similar regional MOOCs previously organised by UNESCO focusing on Latin America and Africa.

The five weekly modules of the MOOC are convened by academics and supplemented by the insights and experiences of prominent guest speakers. Every module introduces and discusses a pertinent topic with respect to the international and regional protection of freedom of expression. Each features accessible background material, comprehension quizzes, as well as a pre-recorded webinar.

The course will be launched on 29 May 2023, and will be delivered over a period of five weeks until 30 June 2023. One weekly module will be released on EdX starting 29 May 2023, and participants will have the flexibility to complete the course anytime before 14 July 2023. We estimate the time commitment to complete the course at under two hours per week, so it is suitable for anyone in full-time employment.

Participants who successfully complete the course in any of the seven language versions will receive a certificate of completion.

Course created with support from

Bonavero Institute of Human RightsUNESCO

At a glance

  • Institution: OxfordX
  • Subject: Law
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Prerequisites:
  • Language: English
  • Video Transcript: English

What you'll learn

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The 5 modules will include:

Module 1: General Principles and Scope of Freedom of Expression (Webinar convened by Professor Sandra Fredman KC (hon), Faculty of Law, University of Oxford)

Module 1 sets out the international legal framework underpinning the right to freedom of expression, notably under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and provides an overview of the general scope of the right in the doctrine of important regional protection regimes.

Module 2: Limitations (Webinar convened by Professor Nazila Ghanea, Faculty of Law, University of Oxford; UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief)

Module 2 explores the legitimate restrictions on the right to freedom of expression, as provided for in international and regional protection regimes, as well as the doctrines of courts.

Module 3: Access to Information (Webinar convened by Professor Liz Fisher, Faculty of Law, University of Oxford)

Module 3 sets out the legal frameworks regarding the right to access to information, with a particular emphasis on the important role that it plays in ensuring democratic political processes and sustainable development.

Module 4: Safety of Journalists (Webinar convened by Meera Selva, Senior Research Associate at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, University of Oxford)

Module 4 examines the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity, highlighting the physical risks that many journalists face, including the specific threats faced by women.

Module 5: Digitalisation (Webinar convened by Professor Kate O'Regan, Director of the Bonavero Institute, and Dr Stefan Theil, Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge)

Module 5 explores contemporary challenges to freedom of expression that have arisen particularly through the exercise of the right online, and how existing legal frameworks can be applied online.

The MOOC will cover:

  1. The general principles and scope of freedom of expression.
  2. The limitations of the right.
  3. The legal protection of the right to access to information.
  4. The safety of journalists and the issue of impunity.
  5. The contemporary digital challenges to freedom of expression and information, including those that arise through state and private regulation online.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Questions? If you need further information about the course, please contact Dr Christos Kypraios (Programme Coordinator, Bonavero-UNESCO MOOC on Freedom of Expression) at

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