The University of Essex is one of the UK's leading academic institutions, ranked ninth nationally for research excellence following the most recent Research Assessment Exercise (RAE, December 2008).
Our Human Rights Centre is the UK’s leading centre for the interdisciplinary study of the theory and practice of human rights, with a worldwide reputation for our 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.
This interdisciplinary course examines the history, theoretical development and implementation of human rights. It is intended if you want to work in the field but also if you are interested in the legal, political, sociological or ethical theory. It was described by Dr Simon Caney of Oxford University as the “premier degree of its kind”.
Beyond the practical problems of human rights lie many unresolved theoretical and philosophical issues. These form the basis of our MA Theory and Practice of Human Rights, which provides you with a solid grounding in fundamental matters of the law, politics, philosophy and sociology of human rights. It will enable you to undertake practical or legal work for human rights organisations.
“I was attracted to study at Essex due to the fantastic reputation of the Human Rights Centre, along with its staff who themselves have had first-hand experience in the field. In addition, the course was very appealing as it is one of the few interdisciplinary courses on offer throughout the United Kingdom. I chose to do my particular course to further my knowledge of a subject area that I am extremely passionate about and felt it was a natural progression for me.
I really enjoy the teaching on the course and the various approaches the lecturers take. They take learning to more than what is merely written in the textbooks. As far as the social life on campus is concerned, I enjoy getting involved in many of the clubs and societies as these offer a nice break from the rigours of education. In particular there are human rights placements and other extra-curricular programmes to get involved in to take our learning to a more practical level.
The campus itself is picturesque, my favourite place being the lake. I am passionate about theatre, and having one on campus is great. I find it really refreshing and inspiring to witness the creativity demonstrated by those on display.
I have recently decided on my specialist area and feel extremely prepared for a career in human rights thanks to my time at Essex. I would have no hesitation in recommending the university to anyone.”
"The University’s reputation as a centre of excellence for human rights made Essex an easy choice for me. The chance to study with world renowned experts in human rights was an exhilarating prospect which didn’t disappoint. The Colchester Campus was also a draw; surrounded by lakes and parkland, it was a beautiful place to study and unwind after a hard day’s work.
I had a modest idea, before I came to Essex, of what I wanted to achieve, which wasn’t overtoppling a corrupt autocratic regime or creating a welfarist state! Instead I wanted to understand a question which puzzled me in everyday life: why do human rights get such a bad press in the UK? I am proud to say that I achieved this goal in a steady and gradual process, culminating in my dissertation. At Essex, you are given this opportunity to develop your own personal approach to rights. I feel that I now understand rights not as some magical tool or an empty promise but rather, at minimum, as political, sociological and legal constructs safeguarding our equality, dignity and autonomy.
Working alongside such dedicated people was humbling, exciting and enriching. There were also opportunities to socialise, such as our introductory tour around Colchester and end of year trips to Kosovo and Europe. My visit to Kosovo, plus various activities in and around the campus, certainly helped develop my skills and provided great experiences. There were many activities to get involved in, like the Human Rights in Schools project, as well as various University societies.
Since graduating, I have found employment as a floating support worker for the Look Ahead housing group. I would recommend getting as much practical experience as possible whilst at Essex and taking any vocational opportunities that are offered as all of this, and the voluntary experience I gained at Crisis during my Christmas holidays, helped me secure my position.
If I had not studied at the Human Rights Centre, I would not have had the theoretical knowledge and people skills to contribute effectively to my current role. My time at Essex gave me a unique approach to social care and allowed me to put a person’s autonomy, equality and dignity first, with a solid belief in its foundations."
ESRC Doctoral Training Centre scholarships
For 2011-12, our ESRC Doctoral Training Centre will offer 16-fully funded ESRC studentships, most worth £18,000 per year, across over 20 doctoral pathways. The University of Essex has become one of only 21 Doctoral Training Centres accredited by the UK Economic and Social Research Council following a highly competitive selection process. Our Doctoral Training Centre will fund 16 doctoral students each year across many different social science disciplines. It also offers excellent training opportunities and a highly stimulating research environment to hundreds of postgraduate students, researchers, professionals, practitioners and users.
Value of Scholarship(s)
Up to £18,000
We encourage applications from top students seeking to research over a range of social science areas, including: criminology and socio-legal research; economic and social research; economics and econometrics; environmental governance; finance; health and organisational research; human rights; language and linguistics; management and accounting; politics and international relations; political economy; psychoanalytic studies; sociology and social change.