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Where to study human rights in the UK and Ireland

University of Law, UK, London

This LLM in International Human Rights Law focuses on building a student’s in-depth knowledge of the subject and how international law protects human rights. It covers topics like the general principles of international human rights law, the connection between humanitarian and human rights law, and the challenges and future of international and domestic human rights. Full-time, the program takes 12 months. Part-time takes 21 months. Modules are assessed by a 3-hour written exam (which must be taken at one of the UK campuses or approved overseas center) or a written coursework assignment. A 15,000-word thesis is also required. To apply, students need a UK undergraduate degree (any subject) at 2:2 or above, or an equivalent qualification. Proven English proficiency is needed, as well.

University of Essex, Human Rights Centre, Colchester

The Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex in Colchester, United Kingdom, provides students with bachelor’s degrees with numerous opportunities to study human rights after graduation. Students may participate in numerous research and outreach products sponsored by the centre, including the Essex Transitional Justice Network, the Human Rights in Iran Unit, the Essex Autonomy Project and the Detention, Rights and Social Justice Programme. In addition to these programs, the centre offers a doctoral program for students who wish to conduct intensive research into human rights issues. The flexible PhD program can be completed on a full or part-time basis, and there are numerous funding opportunities available.

Queen Mary College, London

Queen Mary College of the University of London in London, United Kingdom, grants a Master of Laws degree in Human Rights Law that is open to students from the UK and abroad. Completing the program requires 1 year of full-time study or 2 years of part-time study at the college’s campus in Lincoln’s Inn Field. All full-time students complete coursework for two semesters, selecting modules that are geared toward their specific areas of interest and career goals. In addition, full and part-time students complete a 15,000-word dissertation based on independent research. Three students from the program are selected for summer internships at the British Institute of Human Rights.

London School of Economics Centre for the Study of Human Rights

The Centre for the Study of Human Rights at the London School of Economics in London, UK, grants a Master of Science in Human Rights. A multi-disciplinary course of study, the program examines human rights from legal, sociological and philosophical standpoints with students completing courses in a number of different departments as a part of the rigorous curriculum. A 10,000-word dissertation is required for successful completion of the program, which can be completed with 1 year of full-time study or 2 years of study part-time.  In addition to their degree program, the centre provides opportunities for students to participate in research work and take courses without pursuing a degree.

University College London

The Department of Political Science at the University College London in London, UK, offers a Master of Arts degree program in human rights. Intended for students looking to develop research skills in the field and to gain a strong foundation of knowledge in the political and social issues related to human rights, the program takes 1 year of full-time or 2 years of part-time study to complete. All students take classes in international law, standards and institutions, human rights theory and research methods. In addition, a 10,000-word dissertation and a course in qualitative methods are required to obtain this MA degree. A number of optional elective courses are then completed to round out the breadth of study.

University of London, School of Advanced Study

The School of Advanced Study at the University of London in London, UK, has a Master of Arts degree program in Understanding and Securing Human Rights. Requiring one year of full-time study or two to three yeas of part-time study, the program includes courses in human rights in various contexts and strategies for securing human rights and international human rights law. Students also choose from a number of optional courses that delve deeper into human rights protection and law, and examine human rights from various multidisciplinary perspectives. All students complete a 15,000-word dissertation plus essays and exams related to course material. A bachelor’s degree with honours and competency in English are required for admission.

University of London, SOAS

The School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London in London, United Kingdom, offers a Master of Arts in Human Rights Law program for students who hold honours bachelor’s degrees in related fields. During the one-year full-time or two to three-year part-time program, students have a chance to examine human rights issues in various parts of the world, including the Middle East and China. Coursework related to labour law, conflict, gender equality and international law is prominently included in the program. A dissertation in law is a mandatory part of the program and is based on independent research conducted by the student in an area of interest.

University of Nottingham

The University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom offers a Masters of Laws degree in Human Rights Law at their campus in University Park through the School of Law. A very flexible course of study that takes 1 year of study to complete, the master’s program allows students to design their own curriculum, mixing and matching modules from a list of more than 15 options. All courses are taught in a small format seminar style that enables classroom discussions and an easy exchange of ideas. A dissertation is required for the degree. To be considered for admission, students must have an honours degree in humanities, social sciences or law.

University of Sussex Interdisciplinary

The University of Sussex in Brighton, United Kingdom, offers a Master of Arts degree in Human Rights that may be completed on a 1-year full-time or 2-year part-time schedule. A multi-disciplinary program, the course of study includes an examination of human rights from the standpoints of anthropology, international relations, law and political science. Students must take courses in Human Rights and the Politics of Culture and Liberalism, Modernity and Globalisation during their first term in the full-time program and then are able to select their own classes from an array of options in the second term. The final semester is spent writing a 13,000-word dissertation or completing a work placement with a culminating dissertation.

University of York

The University of York in Heslington, United Kingdom, provides a Master of Arts degree program in Applied Human Rights that focuses primarily on various aspects of social justice, including public policy, law and social activism. Taught by faculty from a variety of departments within the university, the program is interdisciplinary and also includes training project management and other areas that are essential for success during field work. Students participate in a field trip in South Africa, giving them a chance to work with NGOs in a real world setting. A dissertation of 12,000 words is completed during the last semester of the program.

University of Strathclyde

The University of Strathclyde offers a very flexible post-graduate study program in Human Rights at their campus in the United Kingdom and accepts students with bachelor’s degrees or work experience in a human rights-related position. Students can complete three coursework modules for a Postgraduate Certificate or six coursework modules for a Postgraduate Diploma. Those who wish to obtain a formal degree complete six modules and write a 15,000-word dissertation. Graduates of this 1-year full-time or 2-year part-time course of study are awarded a Master of Laws degree. No matter what program is chosen, students take classes in international and European human rights law, human rights protections in the UK and comparative human rights.

Queen’s University, Belfast

The School of Law at Queens University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, offers a Master of Laws program in Human Rights for students with bachelor’s degrees in law or a very closely related field. Offered on a full-time basis typically, the program requires one full year of study spread across three semesters. During the first semester, students take classes in international human rights law and human rights law and practice. The second semester is spent completing elective modules on topics of interest like equality, human rights in times of conflict, counter-terrorism, migration and human rights protections. Over the course of the final semester, students complete a dissertation.

National University of Ireland, Galway

The National University of Ireland, Galway, offers a Master of Laws degree in International Human Rights that allows students to focus on an area of interest that is relative to their current career path or their future career goals. Focus areas include International Criminal Law, International Human Rights Law and Peace Operations, Humanitarian Law and Conflict. Individuals who have been involved in independent human rights research can allow for the Master of Laws by Research program. Students in the traditional programs are strongly encouraged to participate in an internship with a government organization, an NGO or a private company before they finish with the program.

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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.