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Key information
University University of Saint Joseph
Country Lebanon
Learning mode On-Campus
Pace Full-time
Duration 1 – 2 years
Tuition fee 67 EUR/credit
Application deadline(s) First deadline: February 29
Second deadline: May 7
Official Website Click here


A unique interdisciplinary programme that includes research-oriented courses grounded in theory while developing practical and critical skills. It offers an international environment with lecturers and students from over 15 countries, and it includes a semester in a partner university across the region: Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, and Palestine (for Europeans and Americans).

The curriculum covers 80 to 120 credits, depending on the academic background of the student and the chosen track. Over 25 courses and 50 seminars are given by researchers, experts and practitioners from across the Arab region and Europe. These courses and seminars are divided into four thematic streams:

  • Human Rights: Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
  • Democratic Governance and the Rule of Law
  • Political, Social and Intellectual dynamics in the Arab World
  • Applied Human Rights: Research and Professional Skills

Our courses include specialised seminars, field visits, a field research, a Human Rights Laboratory, the Development of a Human Rights project and an internship programme in a Human Rights organisation.

The Master aims to:

  • Create high-profile experts in the fields of democratic governance and the protection of human rights, allowing them to act as promoters of a process leading to the affirmation of the democratic principles;
  • Foster the creation of an elite group of professionals committed to the promotion of democratic institutions;
  • Build a network of experts active in political institutions, national and international, governmental and non-governmental organisations engaging and working in the Arab World.

The Arab Master’s programme is:

  • An intensive advanced course in the field of democracy and human rights.
  • A learning experience combining action and policy-oriented approaches.
  • An international academic composed of prominent professors, experts and practitioners coming from across the region and beyond.
  • A Master’s degree from Saint Joseph University in cooperation with the partner universities: Birzeit University (Palestine), International University of Rabat (Morocco) and University of Carthage (Tunisia) and the University of Jordan (Jordan).
  • Regional mobility with one semester in Beirut and the other in either Birzeit University (Palestine), International University of Rabat (Morocco) and University of Carthage (Tunisia) and the University of Jordan (Jordan).
  • A supervised Master’s thesis in one of the partner universities with internship possibilities.

Course Syllabus

01 Legacy of Colonialism
Historical and Geopolitical overview of the Middle East and North Africa from the dismantlement of the Ottoman Empire till today; highlighting the challenges of colonialism, state-building, the neo-liberal order and the impact of the continuously changing world order. A specific seminar is devoted to the region’s new strategic landscape since the “Arab Spring”.

02 Arab Political Thought
Understanding contemporary ideological debates across the Arab World through the analysis of the thought of prominent thinkers and intellectuals who have inspired political currents and spawned political parties since the end of the 19th century. The course looks into key notions such as modernity, Islam, nation, democracy and socialism with a focus on ongoing debates surrounding secularism, identity, progress and authenticity.

03 Democracy and Human Rights
A parallel analysis of the foundation of Democracy and Human Rights, discussing their fundamental principles, and their evolution both globally and regionally. Democracy is approached as mode of political organisation that goes beyond a specific form of the state, distinguishing its substantial definition from its procedural one. Human Rights is explained in the context of international law, showing its instruments and its mechanisms. They are then contrasted with the international politics of Human Rights.

04 Comparative Constitutional Systems
This course looks into how constitutions and courts frame freedoms and rights. It highlights the role of domestic jurisdiction in the implementation of human rights through a comparative inquiry across the Arab World and beyond. A specific seminar is dedicated to the framing and interpretation of shari’a by constitutions and high courts, exploring the relationships between religion and law in the context of contemporary Muslim societies.

05 Political Parties and Pressure Groups in MENA
The course questions analytical and conceptual tools used to understand and explain political movements and parties in the Arab world. Concepts such as class, kin and tribe, sect, civil society, and informal politics are critically examined and assessed. Students deal with theoretical and empirical questions that are central to understanding political movements and groups in the Arab world. They will also look into the different examples of mobilisation (tactics, methods and tools) with practical exercises related to campaigning strategies.

06 Democratisation and Liberalisation
This course examines the factors and processes that hinder the development of effective democracies in the Arab World. It looks into the political effects of liberalisation and how economical structures (rent, interests and corruption) and security agencies can slow or reverse democratic change.
The course looks into issues pertaining to good governance within the security sector and explores good practices concerning the fight against corruption while examining the dynamics of de-democratisation at work in the post-Arab Spring Middle East.

07 Transition Processes in MENA
The course explores the notion of political change against the backdrop of the “Arab Spring”, looking into the series of events and comparing them to transition processes in other contexts. Within this course, specific seminars are devoted to internal processes such as transitional justice, and external ones such as military interventions, international tribunals or diplomacy (with a focus on EU foreign policy of democratisation and Human Rights the Middle East and North Africa).

08 International Human Rights law and Protection Mechanisms in the MENA
Human Rights are examined through three levels of protection mechanisms: national, regional and international. A special focus is given to the UN office of the High Commissioner for Human Right (OHCHR) and the National Human Rights institutions (NHRI). It also looks into the various processes that the global system of human rights protection has established such as reporting to international organisations, human rights monitoring, and dialogue between the state and the other human rights actors (NGOs, media, etc.)

09 Vulnerable persons and groups Human Rights
Vulnerable persons and groups require special protection mechanisms under national and international law. The course will look into the specific legal frameworks that aim to curb or reverse discrimination and ensure equal access to rights. Specific seminars will look into the issue of Women’s Rights, Children’s rights, and minority rights across the region and its contrasting contexts.

10 Applied Research in Democracy and Human Rights I
Seminars prepare students to design and implement their research from the formulation of a hypothesis to the drawing of conclusions through data collection and the analysis of results. An introduction to quantitative and qualitative research is interwoven with field visits to highlight ethical issues and data gaps, preparing students to develop a thesis proposal that is feasible, useful and scientifically sound.

11 Applied Research in Democracy and Human Rights II
Human rights research requires a specific research methodology taking into account legal sources, identifying duty bearers and rights holders, and allowing to measure observance and violations. Students get to learn from lessons from the field brought by practitioners, and test their knowledge through a week-long field research on Refugee Rights and Issues. Students also follow a seminar on Project development and are accompanied in its implementation phase.

Scholarships are available. For more information please visit the official website below.

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