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Political, social and economic challenges are frequently articulated through the language of human rights. Is the rise of human rights discourse an emblem of hope and a political horizon, mobilising resistance to human need and suffering? Or do human rights claims deflect more radical political demands and block real transformation? Can the manifold crises of contemporary life be made more intelligible through the frame of human rights?
These are just some of the questions taken up in this degree. We are proud to offer this exciting and innovative Master’s degree, leading to the award of an LLM or MA Human Rights. Students who complete the programme can choose which award they receive (the content is the same for each). The distinctive focus of the programme is on theoretically informed
A second-class honours degree (2:2) or above in law, the humanities or social sciences; other subjects will be considered.
Relevant experience may take the place of academic qualifications. Your personal statement as to why you want to take the programme, and your academic and/or professional references will also be important.
If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, the requirement for this course is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 7.0, with not less than 6.5 in each of the sub-tests.
Laura Barre, from France, was eager to broaden her legal expertise by studying at Birkbeck, University of London – a College renowned for its progressive approach to law. She enrolled on to the intensive LLM in Human Rights as this new course gave her the opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge in a short period.
Laura, 27, had previously completed a PhD in Financial Law at Toulouse 1 Capitole University in France, but wanted to develop her understanding of Human Rights. She searched online for courses and found that Birkbeck’s intensive LLM offered everything she wanted. The intensive programme includes two fortnights of face-to-face tuition – one in April, and one in June/July. This innovative mode of teaching, which is being pioneered by Birkbeck’s interdisciplinary School of Law, includes preparatory reading and learning materials before classes begin, and a dissertation once classes end.
Birkbeck’s reputation for research was a key factor in Laura’s decision to study at the College, as well as her desire to spend time in London – the centre of much academic thinking about human rights. Laura said: 'London is one of the best places for studying Human Rights. It is a beautiful city and it was a real pleasure to be here.'
She also praised Birkbeck’s online learning resources and support from lecturers – both important factors when tuition is centred around two intense periods of study with work from home to be carried out before, during and after such face-to-face teaching. Laura added: 'The online services are of a very good quality and make a huge difference when working on an essay when you are living in another country. The lecturers have been very supportive and have provided help throughout the course and even afterwards.' Laura enjoyed the intensity of the course and said such immersion leads to her best academic work.
Laura is now planning to work as a Human Rights lecturer or for an NGO. She added: 'The knowledge I have gained from the intensive LLM will be directly relevant to my career, and will also lead to career opportunities I had not thought about before.'
A full-time job that requires international travel would be enough to keep most people busy, but not Lizzette Robleto Gonzalez, who also managed to fit in a full-time LLM in Human Rights at Birkbeck. Birkbeck was already familiar to Lizzette, as she graduated in 2007 with an LLB in Law. It was only her second experience of studying since moving from Nicaragua, and she admits that it was a great test to overcome:
'The first two years were the most challenging – the last two the most enjoyable. My lecturers were very demanding, which pushed me to work harder to achieve good results. Studying at Birkbeck has made me realised the importance of good discipline and in particular time management.'
Lizzette found the LLB had been directly beneficial to her career in development and as a policy and advocacy co-ordinator for an international development agency, so she decided to enrol for the LLM in Human Rights. She explains: 'Finding the right balance between my full-time job and the course was key to achieving a merit, but I already knew that evening study suited my needs and I had great confidence in the quality of teaching.'
On her first course at Birkbeck, Lizzette won a bursary to pay her fees, but she funded herself through her most recent qualification. 'I wouldn’t have been able to manage the first course without the financial help I received. I got a bursary directly from Birkbeck one year and the student support team helped me with an application to my local authority later on. And now that I’ve paid my own fees for the most recent course, I must say I find them very reasonable.'
Now preparing to come back to Birkbeck to study for a LLM in International Economics Law, Justice and Development from 2015-2017, Lizzette is clear about how Birkbeck helped her personal development. 'It helped me to become more focused and disciplined in what I do. I have built my career while simultaneously improving my confidence and strengthening my academic background. The unique challenges of studying in the evenings, whether full time or part-time, makes this experience even more rewarding and I think it shows employers my determination and commitment to accomplish my goals.'