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Course content

The Human Rights MA develops the skills and theoretical tools needed to carry out human rights research. It provides an understanding of the foundations, nature, limits and implementation of human rights. Students are introduced to philosophical, legal and policy issues and encouraged to engage with them in a critical way.

Degree information

Students develop an understanding of the central issues and problems in the formulation, defence, development, interpretation and application of human rights instruments, law, practice and policy. They gain knowledge of central disciplines and their contribution to human rights studies, and are equipped with key research skills in human rights.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits. The programme consists of four core modules (75 credits), three optional modules (45 credits), and a research dissertation (60 credits).

Core modules
-International Law and Human Rights (30)
-International Human Rights: Standards and Institutions (15)
-Theoretical Foundations of Human Rights (15)
-Normative Methods, Legal Analysis and Research Skills (15)

Optional modules - choose one of the following 15-credit modules:
-Introduction to Qualitative Methods (15)
-Advanced Qualitative Methods (15)
-Introduction to Quantitative Methods (15)
-Advanced Quantitative Methods (15)

And then a further 30 credits from other modules. The following are suggestions:
-Terrorism (15)
-War and International Law (15)
-Equality, Justice and Difference (15)
-The Ethics of Poverty (15)
-Democracy and Accountability: Holding Power to Account (15)
-Governing Divided Societies (15)
-Gendering the Study of Politics: Theory and Practice (15)
-The Politics of Human Rights in Latin America: challenges to Democratisation (15)
-Global Ethics (15)

All MA students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a dissertation of 10,000 words.

Teaching and learning
The programme has an integrated research and teaching approach, where key and cutting edge areas are brought into the seminar room for discussion, and students are encouraged to carry out original research into these areas. Assessment is through essays, unseen examination, seminar presentations, and the dissertation.


The Human Rights MA is a challenging, formative experience that provides the foundations for a variety of future careers. Graduates of the programme are now working in an impressive number of international, national, governmental and non-governmental institutions and organisations, including:
-United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
-Advocates for International Development
-Amnesty International
-British Institute for Human Rights
-Council of Europe
-European Parliament
-International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association
-Japanese Government
-Mediterranean Institute of Gender Studies
-Royal Commonwealth Society
-Save the Children
-UK Foreign Office
-UN Development Programme
-Universal Rights Group

Top career destinations for this degree:
-Researcher, Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice and studying LLM International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, University of Essex
-Legal Intern, UNHCR (United Nations High Comissioner for Refugees)
-Politics Editor, Urban Times
-Legal Assistant, Christine Lee & Co.
-Research Assistant, Overseas Development Institute

Graduates of the programme have secured employment in an impressive number of international, national, governmental and non-governmental institutions and organisations, including the UK Foreign Office, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman UK, British Institute for Human Rights, the European Union, the Council of Europe, Amnesty International, ILGA, Mediterranean Institute of Gender Studies. Some of our students are now human rights lawyers. Our students have also pursued PhDs and have become human rights academics.

Why study this degree at UCL?

UCL Political Science is recognised as a centre of excellence in the field and offers a uniquely stimulating environment for the study of human rights.

Students benefit from weekly seminars featuring distinguished external speakers, and regular high-profile events for policymakers and others. Each year the students have the opportunity to participate in a study trip to Geneva to visit the United Nations Human Rights Institutions and meet human rights practitioners.

The research preparation and tailor-made interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary training students receive are of the highest standard available at one of the world's top universities, as reflected in UCL's performance in a range of rankings and tables.

Visit the Human Rights - MA page on the University College London website for more details!






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