Master's Degree (MA) in Understanding and Securing Human Rights
‘A cutting edge postgraduate programme, which is thematically coherent and well-organised…it balances academic rigour with practical engagement – utilising work placements with human rights NGOs, methods training and expert speakers’.
Dr Nigel Eltringham; University of Sussex, MA external examiner 2007-2010 (click here to see more feedback from external examiners)
This degree, offered by the Human Rights Consortium at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, is the longest-running interdisciplinary, practice-oriented human rights Master's programme in the UK. Our priority is to equip students with practical skills, such as advocacy, research, and fundraising, essential to working in the field of human rights to enable them to build a human rights career. This Master's degree is therefore particularly suitable for individuals who are, or seek to become, human rights practitioners in the NGO, governmental and inter-governmental sectors. Our degree is praised by employers for providing the necessary practical skills human rights organisations need, making our graduates highly employable.
Upon graduating, students will receive a degree awarded by the University of London.
Key benefits of the degree:
We offer practice oriented training that equips students with vocational skills, such as human rights advocacy, activism, lobbying, research and fundraising, essential to gaining employment in the field of human rights.
Academic staff teaching on the course combine their research and teaching activities with work as activists, advocates and consultants in the field of human rights, meaning the degree stays current with new developments in the field. Special lectures and classes are delivered by expert guest lecturers and human rights practitioners, enabling students to understand different perspectives and develop human rights networks.
We help to organise internships for our students with one of the many human rights organisations based in the London area.
Students on this Master's participate in the intellectually vibrant, research-oriented Human Rights Consortium, so enriching their studies.
Our one-week study tour in Geneva provides the opportunity for students to learn from a wide range of human rights advocates based inside and outside the United Nations.
As a student of the University of London you will have access to nearly all of its federal libraries and, thanks to our location in Bloomsbury in central London, you will be within walking distance of the British Library, NGOs and human rights organisations.
We offer a special flexible study option allowing to take the degree on a part-time basis over 36 months (one module per term), enabling students to combine their studies with employment.
For term dates please click here.
The degree comprises practical experience as well as theoretical knowledge. Over the course of the degree, you will receive a practical introduction to and overview of the key actors involved in securing human rights – including states, international institutions, and the role of ideas.
In order to pass the MA, students need to have achieved a total of 90 European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) credits. ECTS credits are recognised across the European Union. The degree comprises four compulsory modules (including the dissertation), and three optional modules.
Students wishing to undertake an internship can do so at any point during the academic year. Students who wish to obtain an extra 20 ECTS credits for this component (extra credit only) must complete the equivalent of 25 working days to pass this module and must submit a 1000-word assessment of their placement experience.
For students who have opted to study through the Latin America pathway, the structure of the degree is slightly different. Please click here for more details.
Degree code: MTCHR
Credit value: 120/180
- Understanding Human Rights I: Ideas and Contexts [10 ECTS]
- Securing Human Rights I: Actors and Mechanisms, Skills and Strategies [10 ECTS]
- Translating Human Rights into Law I: The Foundations of International Human Rights Law [10 ECTS]
- Understanding Human Rights II: Genocide, Gross Human Rights Violations and Reconciliation [10 ECTS]
- Securing Human Rights II: Securing Human Rights in Development and in Conflict [10 ECTS]
- Translating Human Rights into Law II: Topics in International Human Rights Law [10 ECTS]
- The Politics of Human Rights in Latin America [10 ECTS]
- Researching Human Rights: Social Research Methods [10 ECTS]
- Business and Human Rights [10 ECTS]
- Indigenous Peoples, Minorities and Human Rights [10 ECTS]
- Citizenship and New Social Movements in Latin America [10 ECTS]
- Human Rights and Everyday Life in Latin America [10 ECTS]
*All modules are subject to availability.
Dissertation [30 ECTS]
Students will complete a 15,000-word research-based dissertation on a chosen topic within human rights which is of special interest to them. This topic will be chosen in consultation with your dissertation supervisor, who will provide support.
The MA is assessed through essays and examinations, along with more innovative forms of assessment such as legal reports, a media project, mock funding proposal presentations and class participation.
Mode of study
Study options: full-time over one year, or part time over 24 months or 36 months.
Students undertaking the MA part-time over 24 months may choose at least three optional modules during the spring terms of their first and second years. Part time students may undertake more than one internship, for example in both years and/or during the summer between their first and second years.
Part time students undertaking the MA over 36 months generally take one module per term; this mode of study is particularly suitable for students undertaking full or part time work during their studies. For more information about arrangements for studying part time over 36 months, please contact the School of Advanced Study Registry.
Fees 2016-17 (subject to annual uplift in 2017-18):
Part-time 24 months: £4,450.00
Part-time 36 months: £3,060.00
- SAS Studentships
- Routledge/Round Table Studentships (open to overseas students from Commonwealth countries only)
- James Manor Bursary Scheme (open to home, EU or overseas students)
- Yusuf Ali Scholarship (open to students from India, Bangladesh and/or Pakistan)
External funding opportunities
- Commonwealth Shared Scholarships (Open to citizens of developing Commonwealth countries)
- Sir Richard Stapely Educational Trust
- ELCAS funding for current and former members of the Armed Forces
The normal minimum entrance requirement is a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree from a university in the UK, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard (for example a Grade Point Average [GPA] of 3.0 or higher).
We are happy to consider applications from candidates who do not meet the formal academic requirements, but who offer alternative qualifications and/or relevant experience.
English Language competency
English is the language of instruction for all programmes offered at the School of Advanced Study. It is mandatory that all theses, examination papers and coursework are written in English, except where School regulations permit otherwise.
For further information on our English Language Competency requirements, please click here.
Please complete the School of Advanced Study application form and return to the School of Advanced Study Registry.
The deadline for applications for entry in 2015/16 is 30 August.
Most students take the MA in Understanding and Securing Human Rights with a view to becoming human rights professionals and activists. Some choose to go on to do further academic study, including several MA alumni who are PhD candidates associated with the Human Rights Consortium.
The MA was originally developed with staff at Amnesty International to focus on key skills for professional work in the field of human rights. Graduates can obtain valuable skills sought by employers including in fundraising, advocacy, legal analysis, research methods, policy analysis, media and human rights reporting.
Former students have secured paid employment with leading human rights organisations such as Amnesty International, Anti-Slavery International, Human Rights Watch, Minority Rights Group International; with development or humanitarian organisations like ActionAid, World Vision and Oxfam; and with UN agencies such as UNICEF and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.