Disclosure: Human Rights Careers may be compensated by course providers.

MA in Understanding and Securing Human Rights


The MA in Understanding and Securing Human Rights is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2015/16. It was set up with the input of staff from Amnesty International as an interdisciplinary programme for the postgraduate study of human rights.

The MA had two distinct characteristics:

  • a dual emphasis on the theory and the practice of human rights in an inter-disciplinary curriculum; and
  • a focus on equipping students with a range a skills needed for human rights work. Both these aspects remain relevant and attractive to our students today and underline the reason why students choose this particular MA programme over our competitors. There are more than 750 graduates of this MA programme since its inception. Alumni are working in key positions in government departments, intergovernmental organisations, policy agencies, academic institutions and non-governmental organisations, both within the UK and internationally.

The core teaching faculty all have an active programme of policy and practice engagement linked to their research expertise. This enables them to bring into their teaching the important insights into policy and practice across a wide range of organisations and regions, which is central to achieving the MA’s aims. Alongside this, the MA benefits from over 25 guest speakers per year. Examples of guest lecturers for the current academic year (2015-2016) include, among others, the British Institute of Human Rights (on National Human Rights Institutions), Amnesty International (on campaigning), Save the Children (on lobbying), Change.org (on social media), Human Rights Watch (on human rights and refugee protection), BP (on human rights and business), and Womankind Worldwide (on human rights-based approaches to development).

The MA in Understanding and Securing Human Rights has some very innovative assessments and no typical exams. Students have to design a human rights project, prepare a funding proposal and present this to an expert panel. Students have to write shadow reports to the UN or a media project on a contemporary human rights issue. Students can take a dedicated human rights research methods module, studying skills like how to do a human rights impact assessment. Students also get skills in writing legal briefs.

The MA in Understanding and Securing Human Rights has a dedicated human rights internship support programme in addition to the mainstream Careers Service. The Programe meets with students, reviews CVs, cover letters, provides tailored advice on relevant human rights NGOs to work with and guidance on key NGOs based in London that accept interns. Students can also earn extra credits for internship placements.

They also have a Human Rights in Latin America Pathway so students can take advantage of the Institute of Latin American Studies and get regional expertise.

Additionally they also run an excellent Geneva study tour.

All of this teaching takes place against the backdrop of the Human Rights Consortium, which includes also the Refugee Law Initiative.

Finally, the MA has many scholarships on offer, including this year:

James Manor Bursary: up to four bursaries, equal to up to 50% of the applicable tuition fee, for UK, EU or overseas students, based on academic potential of the applicants, with preference given to those students who would otherwise be unable to study for financial reasons. DEADLINE: 2 May 2016

Routledge/Roundtable Scholarships: for overseas students that are citizens of Commonwealth member states; £12,000 plus a 50% tuition fee waiver, awarded on the basis of academic merit, previous experience and a personal statement on motivation for doing this MA degree.
DEADLINE: 10 June 2016

Convocation Trust Bursary: fees-only merit-based bursary for self-funded students domiciled in the UK, EU or overseas, for up to one year of study. DEADLINE: 1 June 2016

SAS Coffin Studentship: valued at £12,500 to cover tuition fees and cover maintenance costs, for students who are self-funded and domiciled in the UK, European Union (EU) or overseas, awarded on academic merit.  DEADLINE: 1 June 2016.

Yusuf Ali Fund Studentships: for citizens of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan (including dual nations), valued at between £3,000 and £14,000, depending on the financial need of applicants, awarded on the basis of applicant’s academic and professional experience. DEADLINE: 10 June 2016.

About the author

Human Rights Careers

Human Rights Careers (HRC) aims to help human rights students, recent graduates and young professionals to pursue a career in the highly competitive field of human rights.

Leave a Comment