I chose to pursue a career in human rights, maybe for a clichéd reason. I wanted to feel like I was doing something to help change things in the world.

Ella Knight, MA in Understanding and Securing Human Rights​ Alumna

My name is Ella Knight, and I work for Amnesty International. We are a global membership organisation, we undertake research and campaigning action to try and prevent human rights abuses and violations around the world. I trained as a contemporary dancer originally, but I was always interested in social issues and social justice, and I think I wanted to do more and make more change.

At the moment I am working on a project about armed drones, and on a day to day basis I am developing campaign and advocacy strategies, doing desk based research into where we can conduct new research on drone strikes, and I am creating campaign material such as social media graphics and working with our media team.

My motivation for taking this postgraduate course, was I trained originally as a contemporary dancer, and when I made the decision to move into a new field, I felt I needed to develop my academic skills, my writing skills, my critical thinking ability. I didn’t have a legal background either, and I felt to pursue the human rights work, some kind of legal grounding was essential and the master’s seemed like the most strategic option for this.

I chose the University of London for the master’s because when I was looking around at different courses I felt like it offered the most holistic approach to studying human rights; from the legal side, the international law side, to the practical elements, the skills you need to do advocacy, to the history and the theory of human rights.

I also went to the open day and met some of the lecturers and felt they were really inspiring and engaging. The curriculum offered was also broad and gave a great range of options for studying different themes and issues.

So I think the strengths of the master’s course are that it’s really accessible for someone with a non-legal background as well as someone who maybe is a law graduate. It catered to a whole ability of different people and made the law side of things really accessible to someone like me. It offered a really practical side of the work as well. We learnt how to engage in advocacy at the United Nations, how to develop fundraising and bids, and things like that. The lecturers all come from a practical background of working in human rights and they’ve all got their own experience and interests that were really inspiring throughout the course.

The course gave me a massive range of different skills. Legal analysis was a really key one for me not coming from a law background.

Every day now in my work I’m looking at court documents, drone strikes are incidents that need to be assessed compared to a human rights legal framework. I’m now also writing fundraising applications, and doing evaluations to fund the work I’m doing. We did some work on social media and developing other forms of media. We made a short film in the course and that skill in tailoring a message to a certain audience was excellent during the course.

In terms of someone just starting out in this career I’d say go for it, don’t be afraid that there is a lot of other people out there interested in this work. I started in an administrative role here at Amnesty, and just being in the organisation and showing enthusiasm and getting to know people and what else is going on was the best thing that I think I did in my career.