The topic of this free course is modern slavery. While slavery was abolished in the nineteenth century, it continues in the modern world and affects millions of people worldwide. Modern slavery takes various forms, e.g. trafficking in human beings (THB), forced labour and bonded labour. THB is a complex issue, which poses a challenge to legal regulation, particularly in a human rights context. It is an excellent and timely example of modern slavery, which is likely to challenge existing preconceptions about slavery and human rights protection in the twenty-first century.

This course will outline the historical aspects of slavery and the relevant legal instruments prohibiting slavery. The course will then focus on learning and analysing the topic of twenty-first century slavery, such as THB, child slavery (bonded labour) and other forms of forced labour. The course will introduce the concept of THB and its elements. It will also look at the case examples of THB in the UK.

Throughout this course, there will be an opportunity to consider various examples of modern slavery and apply knowledge about human rights law to this contemporary problem. At the end of this course are questions considering possible solutions to the problem of modern slavery. For example, there will be an opportunity to critically analyse and reflect on the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

This OpenLearn course is an adapted extract from the Open University course W102 Law: concepts and perspectives.

Learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • understand the historical origins of slavery as well as examples of slavery
  • understand the international legal framework prohibiting slavery
  • understand the concept of modern slavery and its various forms
  • analyse the applicable law and apply it to a given example/case study
  • critically analyse and evaluate proposals for new legislation addressing modern slavery.

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