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Human Rights and Cultural Diversity - MA


Course Description

Are you interested in human rights? And how human rights relate to problems of cultural inequalities around the world?

Our MA Human Rights and Cultural Diversity is suited to you if you have a particular interest in this specialised area of study. You acquire a deeper knowledge and understanding of the central issues and debates surrounding the application and justification of human rights within a culturally complex and diverse world.

These problems are legal, social, political and philosophical, and our course reflects this in our multidisciplinary approach. In contrast to our other human rights courses, this MA examines human rights specifically in relation to cultural diversity. You explore topics including:
-Theoretical foundations of human rights
-The practice of human rights in the context of cultural diversity
-Notions of human rights in Africa
-Contemporary issues of cultural diversity

Our interdisciplinary Human Rights Centre is the UK’s leading centre for the study of the theory and practice of international human rights, and has a worldwide reputation for research, teaching and practice. In February 2010, we were awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize in recognition of our work in advancing human rights across the globe.

At Essex we specialise in commercial law, public law, and human rights law. We are top 20 in the UK for research excellence (REF 2014), and we are ranked among the top 200 departments on the planet according to the QS World [University] Rankings [2016] for law.

This course is also available on a part-time basis.

Our expert staff

Our work has always been informed by human rights practice and our senior staff have held - and continue to occupy - key positions in the United Nations human rights and development fields. We have also conducted numerous cases in Strasbourg, establishing far-reaching precedents that have shaped the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights.

At Essex, our objective is to ensure you receive a rigorous academic education that also prepares you for working as a human rights advocate. Every member of our teaching team is a leading human rights academic, as well as a practitioner in the field.

Our team includes former UN Special Rapporteurs, members of UN treaty bodies, the UK member of the UN Human Rights Committee, a member of the Government’s new Advisory Group on Human Rights. We are also advisers to a range of international organisations (like the OHCHR, UNHCR and WHO), as well as to NGOs around the world, and litigators before national courts, regional human rights commissions and courts, international courts and tribunals, and the UN treaty bodies.

Specialist facilities

-Participate in various legal competitions to hone your debating, mediation and negotiation skills
-Work on key human rights projects at our Human Rights Clinic
-Network at our student-run Law Society, Human Rights Society, and Bar Society, which provides legal advice to the Commonwealth Students’ Association (CSA)
-Our Essex Street Law project is one of the first of its kind and is the primary pro-bono project provided by our Law Society
-Volunteer at the Essex Law Clinic where you can work alongside practicing solicitors to offer legal advice to clients
-Gain commercial awareness at our Business and Legal Advice Clinic
-Join our Model United Nations society, which can improve your skills of argumentation, oral presentation and research
-Take advantage of networking opportunities throughout the year with visiting law firms

We also offer a range of opportunities for working with projects associated with our Human Rights Centre:
-Essex Transitional Justice Network
-International Centre on Human Rights and Drug Policy
-Human Rights in Iran Unit
-Essex Autonomy Project
-Detention, Rights and Social Justice Programme

Your future

Graduates are well placed for careers as a journalist, a policy analyst or researcher, as an official in the United Nations system or as an activist in humanitarian and policy-making non-governmental bodies in the UK and abroad. We also prepare you to undertake further independent research in the field of human rights.

We are first university in the UK to sign a memorandum of understanding with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). This creates internship and research opportunities for our postgraduate students and is based on our long-established expertise in international humanitarian law.

During the year, we hold a careers session for our students in which we reflect upon our own careers and how they have been built as well as those from former students. We are always available to discuss career options and if you are interested in a particular area of human rights, we can link you up with the relevant alumni to offer advice.

We also work with the university’s Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

Example structure

-Contemporary Issues in Human Rights and Cultural Diversity
-Dissertation: MA Human Rights and Cultural Diversity
-Human Rights: Theories and Applications
-Human Rights Clinic (optional)
-Religion and Human Rights (optional)
-Human Rights, International Relations and Diplomacy (optional)
-International Security Studies (optional)
-Contemporary Theories of Justice (optional)
-Race and Class in the United States, South Africa and Britain: Select Topics (optional)
-Language Rights (optional)
-Conflict & the UN: Law Relating to the Use of Force, Peacekeeping, Sanctions & Counter Terrorism (optional)
-International Human Rights: Law, Institutions and Practice (optional)
-Public International Law (optional)
-Foundations of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (optional)
-The Protection of Refugees and Displaced Persons in International Law (optional)
-International Child Law (optional)
-European Convention on Human Rights I (optional)
-The Protection of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples in International Law (optional)
-Human Rights and Development (optional)
-International Trade, Investment and Human Rights. (optional)
-Human Rights for Women (optional)
-Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in Africa (optional)
-The Inter-American System of Human Rights (optional)
-Business and Human Rights (optional)
-Psychoanalysis of Groups and Organisations (optional)
-Psychosocial Perspectives on Human Rights (optional)
-Social Psychology
-Culture and Psychology (optional)
-Advanced Social Psychology (optional)
-Dynamics of Home and Work (optional)
-Formative Debates in Criminology (optional)
-Current Controversies in Criminology and Criminal Justice Policy (optional)
-Colonialism, Cultural Diversity and Human Rights (optional)

Visit the Human Rights and Cultural Diversity - MA page on the University of Essex website for more details!

Entry Requirements


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