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International Human Rights Law - LLM


Course Description

Our LLM International Human Rights Law is the oldest established human rights law course in Europe, and reflects our University’s global reputation as the leading centre for human rights research, practice and education. In 2009 the University was awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in recognition of its excellence in the advancement of human rights.

We provide an advanced conceptual understanding of the international law on the promotion and protection of human rights, at the international, regional and national level, informed by the latest practice and scholarship.

Our course sets international human rights law in its philosophical and historical contexts, enabling you to understand international human rights law as it applies in various situations including states of emergency or acute crises, development and transition.

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.

We attract some of the most experienced and academically qualified students from around the world, and we aim to produce graduates who will be leaders in the field of international human rights law as advocates, field officers, legal advisers or researchers with governments and international and non-governmental organisations.

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

Placement Opportunities

We strongly recommended that those without previous experience undertake at least a one-month internship with an intergovernmental or non-governmental organisation in London, Geneva or elsewhere.

This can be accommodated while studying for your dissertation, and extensions are available for those wishing to pursue this option full-time (for students who do not require a visa to study in the UK).

Students have previously interned with Amnesty International, Anti-Slavery International, Article 19, the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, the Council of Europe, JUSTICE, the International Commission of Jurists, the International Service for Human Rights, INTERIGHTS, Minority Rights Group International, REDRESS and UNHCR to name a few organisations.

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

The majority of our students go on, or return, to work in human rights as litigators, in NGOs and international organisations like the UN, in government (particularly Ministries of Foreign Affairs) and in academia. They are a conspicuous presence in all the key human rights hubs in the world.

Our School of Law graduates have gone on to a wide variety of careers in international and intergovernmental organisations or employment with governments across the world, in commerce and banking, in non-governmental organisations and, as might be expected, in the legal profession and the judiciary.

Recent graduates of LLM International Human Rights Law have found employment as:
-National Protection Officer for UNHCR
-An advocate for Refugees International
-A lawyer for the Registry of the European Court of Human Rights
-An adviser for the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT)
-Lead lawyer for the Human Rights Advocacy Centre/Memorial
-A trade promotion manager at the Department of Trade and Industry

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

-Dissertation: LLM International Human Rights Law
-Foundation Essay: LLM International Human Rights Law
-International Human Rights: Law, Institutions and Practice
-European Union Law and Human Rights (optional)
-Freedom of Expression, Privacy and the Media (optional)
-International Law of Armed Conflict (optional)
-Topics in the International Law of Armed Conflict (optional)
-International Criminal Law (optional)
-Conflict & the UN: Law Relating to the Use of Force, Peacekeeping, Sanctions & Counter Terrorism (optional)
-Acute Crises and Displacement (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)
-Transitional Justice (optional)
-Human Rights Clinic (optional)
-Religion and Human Rights (optional)
-Human Rights, International Relations and Diplomacy (optional)
-Language Rights (optional)

Visit the International Human Rights Law - LLM page on the University of Essex website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Luciana Ramsay

“The School of Law at the University of Essex was recommended to me by an alumnus as the best in the field of human rights law. I had always wanted to further my knowledge in law and international human rights law is a very dynamic and growing area, so the School of Law’s LLM International Human Rights Law appealed to me. Moreover, as a former Clerk of the Court (Prosecutor) I have always been drawn to incorporating human rights issues into that line of work.

Essex has a great human rights programme that balances academic work with practical work. There are seminars and workshops geared towards enhancing our skills in human rights and students have the opportunity to become involved in human rights projects from across the world to get hands on experience. As such I enjoy the balance that has been created for the students, especially where most of us have never worked in the field from a practical point of view. In relation to the academic aspect, the course outlines are readily available online, the reading materials are given and time is not wasted trying to collate information at the library as it is made easily accessible online. Moreover our lecturers are renowned and well respected in the field, several are highly active as a result of their appointments at the United Nations in high profile positions, yet easily accessible when you need them.

In addition, I enjoy the global feel that my class has as I am studying with people from varied backgrounds; there is a former magistrate, several attorneys from different fields, to name just a few. This means I learn something new every day whether legal, social or otherwise from these persons, as well as being able to network with persons from parts of the world I have only heard of.

When I finish my LLM I will be returning to Jamaica to my job.”

(Student Profile)

Cicek Gockun

"I studied political science and international relations at university in Istanbul and found human rights to be the area that interested me most. I knew Essex was the best university to study this subject further, with a worldwide reputation for its academic staff in the School of Law and the very well respected Human Rights Centre.

Two elements of my LLM International Human Rights Law were invaluable. Firstly, the quality and enthusiasm of my teaching staff who are always friendly and helpful, and secondly the diversity on my course, with students from all over the world and varying age ranges. Combining young students and professionals was an important aspect of my course which opened my eyes to different facts on the world and allowed me to empathise and work more successfully in my field.

I found there were always interesting projects and research going on at Essex, with academic staff happy to involve current student. In addition, the University has numerous student societies to join and quite a few are focused on human rights (Human Rights Society, STAR, Student for Free Tibet and Model United Nations Essex) which allowed me to go beyond my reading and writing to gain practical experience.

Since graduating, I have taken a job at the Human Rights Centre here, as Student Activities Officer, so have been coordinating student support events such as field trips to Europe and Kosovo, student conferences on human rights in Asia and in Africa, and other extracurricular activities.

My LLM gave me new experiences and ideas which I never thought of before. It also ensured I have the right research skills and academic discipline to consider undertaking a PhD in the future."


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