The School of Law is proud to offer this exciting and innovative Master’s programme, leading to the award of an LLM or MA Human Rights. The distinctive focus of the programme is on theoretically informed and multidisciplinary approaches to human rights. It aims to expose you to a critical and contextual engagement with the subject. You will study human rights in their legal, political, sociological, anthropological and philosophical contexts.
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 some of the questions taken up in this programme.
You will be introduced to a wide variety of approaches to research across a range of disciplines, and to the theoretical frameworks for advanced legal scholarship. You will also take specialist courses, choosing from a wide range of subjects in the area of human rights.
The programme is particularly attractive to legal professionals, and to non-lawyers who work, or would like to work, in the field of human rights, allowing them to reflect critically on their role as human rights activists and practitioners.
Why study this course at Birkbeck?
The programme has close ties to a number of leading human rights NGOs and is informed by critical engagement with, and analysis of, human rights practice. Designed for students who are interested in exploring in depth the major contemporary debates concerning the theory and practice of human rights. Unique programme, focusing on the study of human rights from a critical, contextual and multidisciplinary perspective. Critical introduction to the vibrant world of human rights practice. The School of Law is an internationally recognised centre for critical and interdisciplinary legal research. It provides an exciting and innovative environment for a wide range of research with a strong theoretical and policy focus. The School is the home of Birkbeck Law Press and publishes Law and Critique: The International Journal of Critical Legal Thought. We use IT resources, such as electronic learning environments, to enhance teaching and learning. Birkbeck Library has an extensive teaching collection of books, journals and electronic resources in law and related disciplines, such as economics, politics and sociology. For example, it provides access to over 17,000 electronic journals, which are available online 24 hours a day. Find out more about our teaching and learning resources. You can also take advantage of the rich research collections nearby, including those of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Senate House Library, the British Library of Political and Economic Science (LSE Library) and the British Library.
Birkbeck is one of the world’s leading research-intensive institutions. Our cutting-edge scholarship informs public policy, achieves scientific advances, supports the economy, promotes culture and the arts, and makes a positive difference to society.
Birkbeck’s research excellence was confirmed in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, which placed Birkbeck 30th in the UK for research, with 73% of our research rated world-leading or internationally excellent.
We are among the top 10 law schools in the UK and in the top 3 in London in the Times Higher Education 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) rankings, while our research environment was judged conducive to producing research of the highest quality.
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.'
Lizette Robleto Gonzalez
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.'
Law Postgraduate Fee Awards may be awarded by the College on the recommendation of the School’s Research Committee to candidates with an outstanding academic record who shows high potential for strong performance on one of the School’s Master's programmes. The awards will cover the cost of fees only at the home/EU rate. Where an award is made to an international student, the student will be liable for the balance of their fees for the duration of their programme of study. There is no maintenance award.
Value of Scholarship(s)
Cost of fees at the home/EU rate only
Awards may be made for full-time or part-time study and to Home, EU students or International students. Where an award is made to an international student the student will be liable for the balance of their fees for the duration of their programme of study. Candidates will be expected to fulfil similar academic criteria to those demanded by external funding bodies. They will normally possess at least an upper second class honours degree or equivalent and not normally have previously completed a Postgraduate Taught Programme. The competition is open to new students only.
Before you can apply for this funding, you must submit an application to the College for one of our eligible master's programmes. Candidates will be considered for admission first, and for the award only after they have been offered a place (at least conditionally) onto the programme. Once you have been offered a place, you can apply using the relevant application form
Good second-class honours degree in law, the humanities or social sciences; other good honours degrees will be considered. Degrees from overseas institutions must be equivalent to a UK second-class degree. Other relevant qualifications and appropriate professional training and experience are welcome and will be taken into account. If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, the requirement for this programme is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 7.0, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.
Part-time home/EU students: £ 3975 pa Full-time home/EU students: £ 7950 pa
Recipient: Birkbeck, University of London
Insert previous message below for editing?
You haven’t included a message. Providing a specific message means universities will take your enquiry more seriously and helps them provide the information you need. Why not add a message here