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Tuition-Free Masters in Human Rights Law (Lund University, Sweden)

Note: This article was published in 2016. In the meanwhile, all universities have introduced tuition fees for international students. At some universities, students from EEA/EU may still be able to study without paying tuition. It might be a better choice to visit our more up-to-date directory of masters in human rights and explore what scholarships are available.

by Inge Van Der Helm

International Human Rights Law Masters Program at Lund University, Sweden

Did you know that Lund University, located in Sweden, offers one of the best Human Rights Law programs available within Europe? The university itself is consistently ranked as one of the top 100 universities, while the Law faculty of Lund University is placed among the 150 best law faculties in the world according to the QS World University Rankings 2016.

The International Human Rights Law program has existed for 25 years and is a 2-year master program designed by Lund University in cooperation with Lund’s human rights institute, the Raoul Wallenberg Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law. This master program will therefore not only give you the necessary academic knowledge and skills, but will also make you familiar with human rights in the field as well as human rights and development. If you are interested in doing a master in human rights law, Lund University’s International Human Rights Law Program is therefore definitely worth considering.

Entry Requirements and Finance Opportunities

In order to have a chance to be accepted into this program, you must meet several entry requirements. First of all, you must have at least a Bachelor degree in law which meets Sweden’s standards. This means that the bachelor’s duration must be at least 3 years, which equals 180 ECTS. Secondly, there is an English language requirement which must be met. You must have an IELTS score of 6.5 or higher, or alternatively a TOEFL score of at least 90. The selection criteria for the program are based on previous grades, a statement of purpose and two letters of recommendation. It is important to note that the program wants exactly 2 recommendation letters and since it can reject applications which do not meet the requirements, it is essential that you comply with this requirement. The letters can be from professors, but also from employers or other persons who can vouch for your skills and academic knowledge.

Tuition fees

With regards to the tuition fees for this program, there is amazing news for European students, since they do not have to pay any tuition whatsoever. This is also the case for citizens from within the European Economic Area and from Switzerland. For students who do not come from these countries, the tuition fee for the full 2-year program is 260.000 SEK, which translates to roughly 28.150 USD. On top of that non-EU students will need to pay a 100 USD fee when they submit their application. On the bright side, non-EU students will be eligible for several different scholarships and other funding opportunities. There is the Lund University Global Scholarship Programme, targeting top academic students from outside of the European Union. Lund University also offers a temporary scholarship to celebrate the 350th birthday of Lund University, called Lund University’s 350th Jubilee Scholarship. There also exists a national scholarship offered by the Swedish Institute. Aside from that Lund University has several agreements with several countries, namely Brazil, Indonesia, Russia, Chile, Mexico and Colombia. In addition there are national programs which will finance a Masters in Sweden in Armenia, Australia, Egypt, Ecuador, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, Qatar and Thailand. So if you are from any of these countries, make sure to research these funding opportunities!

The next MA program will start in August 2017 and the application deadline for this year is 15th of January 2017. You can apply via www.universityadmissions.se.

Content of the masters in International Human Rights Law

The 2-year master program consists of four terms and each term is equal to 30 ECTS. Of the 120 ECTS in total, 75 ECTS will be dedicated to mandatory courses in both international law and human rights law. In addition you will have to choose elective courses for a total of 15 ECTS (or more, if you are really motivated). The last 30 ECTS are reserved for the master thesis, which will take up the whole last term of the study.

During the first period there are two mandatory courses, International Law and International Human Rights Law I. In the international law course you will be introduced to international law and its main principles, which are needed to properly understand how human rights law fits into the international law system. Following this, the human rights law course will introduce the history, characteristics and the critiques of human rights law and offers understanding of the different institutions that implement human rights both on international and state level. The second term starts with the mandatory course Human Rights Law II, which offers a deeper understanding of human rights law. The rest of the second term consists of elective courses. The courses that are offered can differ per year, based on availability of professors and teachers as well as the popularity of the course. But to give you a general idea, the last year of the program students could choose between the following courses: Human Rights and Labour Rights, Human Rights and the Rights to Development, Human Rights and Cultural Diversity, Business and Human Rights, Human Rights and Gender and Migration Law.

In the second year of the program, you will take the mandatory course Procedural Law of Human Rights as well as an elective course. You can choose between Humanitarian Law, Fundamental Labour Rights, Human Rights in the Field and International Criminal Law.

Personal experience with the International Human Rights Law masters

As a recent graduate from this program, I can definitely recommend this program if you are deeply interested in human rights law. Not only are the course topics all very interesting and relevant, most of the courses are given by both professors and people who work with human rights in the field or have substantial experience with the course subject. The international labour law course for example was given by two teachers who both worked at a very high level within the International Labour Organization. Their experiences and personal insights were very valuable. As a result I learned about the subject both on an academic level as well as on a practical one.

Another advantage of this program is their collaboration with the Raoul Wallenberg Institute. The course Human Rights in the Field for example is given by employees of the RWI, which ensures that the course is realistic and helps you to build real practical skills that are useful for your career as well. This course taught us how to write a project proposal, which is often what you will be doing as an entry level employer at a human rights organization.

What can you expect from your stay in Lund, Sweden?

Lund is a typical university city and houses many Swedish and international students. Its student life is rich and full of variety and is a great opportunity to meet people from all over the world. Both Lund University and its students will make you feel welcome. Especially during the first period, but also during the rest of your stay, they will organize many events that give you the opportunity to take part in all that the student life has to offer. As alumni from Lund University, I personally advise you to take full advantage of Lund’s unique student life, because you will without a doubt make friends and memories that you carry with you for the rest of your life.

About the author

Human Rights Careers

Human Rights Careers (HRC) provides information about online courses, jobs, paid internships, masters degrees, scholarships and other opportunities in the human rights sector and related areas.