Department of Political Science


MA Human Rights

The MA Human Rights has been running for 12 years with graduates  working in an impressive number of international, national, governmental and non-governmental institutions and organizations as researchers, policy-makers and campaigners. 

From the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, to Amnesty International, from the British Institute for Human Rights to the Council of Europe, and in countries as diverse as Croatia, Jordan, Brazil, United States, Argentina, Pakistan, Uganda, Georgia and Hong Kong, our students have gone on to become key workers in the human rights field.

The degree produces high-level researchers capable of undertaking independent human rights investigations in any research or policy environment. To that end the a strong emphasis is placed on human rights research methodology, writing skills, discussion and presentation skills, as well as on multidisciplinary training in the key disciplines of human rights. The degree gives a foundational knowledge in the central human rights institutions, processes and practices, but goes beyond this in developing student’s ability to critically analyse these.

Unlike any other human rights course currently available, the degree is designed to prepare students in all the foundational areas of human rights studies:

Theoretical Foundations of Human Rights

International Law and Human Rights

Human Rights Institutions (international and regional systems and standards-setting)

Normative, legal, and empirical research methods 

These form the compulsory and foundational components of the degree, in addition to more than 30 option courses to choose from. These come from disciplines as diverse as International Relations, Comparative Politics, Political and Legal Theory, Public Policy, Political Science, Law and Philosophy.

The course is taught and overseen by researchers and practitioners active in the human rights research field. There is 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. This is displayed by the high caliber and originality of our student’s dissertation research projects.

You may have the opportunity to participate in an annual study trip to the United Nations Institutions in Geneva and we encourage internships in human rights organizations in the term three. The department provides advice, guidance and contacts (including alumni who have been on this course in the past),  where possible, and access to the Departmental internship database to assist students in finding a placing. 

Is the MA in Human Rights for me?

If you are interested in a career in human rights research, policy or advocacy, then this degree is for you.

The research preparation and tailor-made interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary training you will receive is one of the highest available in the world, in a university rated in the top 5 in the world. The degree itself connects practical application and theory, and connects students to the world of human rights practice and research.

Each year’s intake of students is from a wide range of countries and cultural backgrounds and socialising and getting to know the experiences of people from a different context to you are strongly encouraged by the degree coordinators. 

The degree also takes on students from a variety of academic backgrounds.

All in all the degree is a challenging, formative experience that provides the foundations for a variety of future careers.

Applicants wishing to study part-time should note that two core modules are required in term 1 of the first year and one core module is required in term 2 of the first year. This means that there will be two pre-determined weekdays in term 1 of year one and one weekday in term 2 of year one on which the student will need to be at UCL.