Human Rights MA

London, Bloomsbury

The Human Rights MA develops the skills and theoretical tools needed to carry out human rights research. It provides an understanding of the foundations, nature, limits and implementation of human rights. Students are introduced to philosophical, legal and policy issues and encouraged to engage with them in a critical way.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2022/23)
Overseas tuition fees (2022/23)
1 calendar year
2 calendar years
Programme starts
September 2022
Applications accepted
All applicants: 18 Oct 2021 – 30 Jun 2022

Applications open


Application closes at 17:00 GMT.

Entry requirements

As a minimum, an upper second-class Bachelor's degree from a UK university; or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. Relevant practical or work experience in a related field may also be taken into account.

English language requirements

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.

The English language level for this programme is: Advanced

UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level. International Preparation Courses

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

Equivalent qualifications

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below. Please note that the equivalency will correspond to the broad UK degree classification stated on this page (e.g. upper second-class). Where a specific overall percentage is required in the UK qualification, the international equivalency will be higher than that stated below. Please contact Graduate Admissions should you require further advice.

About this degree

The MA in Human Rights is a unique multidisciplinary programme that will provide you with a comprehensive introduction to the theoretical foundations, legal framework and international politics of human rights. The programme bridges the theory and practice of human rights and is designed to equip you with the knowledge and skills necessary to become an effective human rights practitioner. To this end, strong emphasis is placed on:

a) developing your ability to engage critically with human rights, bringing disciplines of political science, law and philosophy, and their respective approaches, to bear on them;

b) providing you with intellectually challenging tasks that will allow you to improve your analytical and problem-solving skills;

c) introducing you to the normative, legal and political challenges with the promotion and protection of human rights in practice, and fostering your ability to develop and advance viable forward strategies to address such challenges;

d) providing you with the theoretical and practical skills necessary to become an effective human rights practitioner, whether in politics, policy, law, or as frontline service providers for governmental agencies or non-governmental organisations.

Who this course is for

The programme is suitable for graduates with an interest in human rights, who wish to develop a career in this field, or use the MA as a foundation for further research.

What this course will give you

UCL Political Science is recognised as a centre of excellence in the field and offers a uniquely stimulating environment for the study of human rights. 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. Students benefit from weekly seminars featuring distinguished external speakers, and regular high-profile events for policymakers and others. You may have the opportunity to participate in an annual study trip to the United Nations Institutions in Geneva. The research preparation and tailor-made interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary training students receive are of the highest standard available at one of the world's top universities, as reflected in UCL's performance in a range of rankings and tables.

The foundation of your career

The MA in Human Rights has been running for over 10 years with graduates working in an impressive number of international, national, governmental and nongovernmental institutions and organizations as researchers, policy-makers and campaigners, including the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the United Nations Development Programme, the UK Foreign Office, Amnesty International, the international Committee of the Red Cross, 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. Some of our students have gone on to become human rights lawyers, while others have pursued PhDs and have become human rights academics. The Human Rights MA is a challenging, formative experience that provides the foundations for a variety of future careers in an impressive number of international, national, governmental and non-governmental institutions and organisations.


The research preparation and tailor-made interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary training you will receive is one of the highest available in the world.

Teaching and learning

Programme assessment includes a variety of methods: essays, seminar presentations, and examinations, as well as a final dissertation.

Some of the optional courses will have their own methods of assessment which may include ‘unseen’ examinations and long essays. Meeting with tutors will also be used to assess if students are making adequate progress towards the goals mentioned. The programme has 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. Assessment is through essays, unseen examination, seminar presentations, and the dissertation.



Modules on the MA in Human Rights Programme typically consist of a weekly lecture followed by a weekly seminar. Lectures will augment assigned readings and will introduce you to the key concepts, issues and controversies surrounding specific areas of human rights. Seminars will provide a forum for you to engage with the lecture content through presentations, discussions, debates and practical scenarios designed to promote critical analysis and practical application.

You will undertake modules to the value of 180 credits, comprising four compulsory modules on theoretical foundations of human rights; international law and human rights; doing human rights work; human rights politics and practice; at least one methods module, and a dissertation. You will further attend elective module(s) so you can personalise your programme of study to your own academic or professional interests.

You may have the opportunity to participate in our annual study trip to Geneva to gain first-hand insight into the political challenges associated with promoting and protecting human rights in practice. In Geneva, you will have the opportunity to visit the United Nations Human Rights Council as well as a range of other human rights organisations, which provides an opportunity for you to explore possible internship opportunities. Please note that the study trip is an extra-curricular activity which may be withdrawn in any given year without notice.

Please note that the list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability is subject to change.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits. Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded an MA in Human Rights.


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Graduate Open Events: Applying for Graduate Study at UCL

The Applying to UCL for graduate study session took place in December 2021. The session, covered by our Graduate Admissions and Student Recruitment teams, provides helpful information about the process of applying for graduate study, as well as offering an insight into what we consider to be a competitive application.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time Part-time
Tuition fees (2022/23) £16,500 £8,250
Tuition fees (2022/23) £26,600 £13,300

The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Where the programme is offered on a flexible/modular basis, fees are charged pro-rata to the appropriate full-time Master's fee taken in an academic session. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website:

Additional costs

For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.

Funding your studies

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.

Scholarships relevant to this department are displayed below.

GREAT Scholarship

Deadline: 31 May 2022
Value: £10,000 towards tuition fees (1 year)
Criteria Based on both academic merit and financial need
Eligibility: EU, Overseas

Next steps

Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.

There is an application processing fee for this programme of £90 for online applications and £115 for paper applications. Further information can be found at Application fees.

When we assess your application we would like to learn:

  • why you want to study Human Rights at graduate level
  • why you want to study Human Rights at UCL
  • what particularly attracts you to this programme
  • how your personal, academic and professional background meets the demands of a challenging and truly international academic environment
  • where you would like to go professionally with your degree

Together with essential academic requirements, the personal statement is your opportunity to illustrate whether your reasons for applying to this programme match what the programme will deliver.

When it is necessary to calculate a final average mark, the department will calculate all years of undergraduate study.

Please note that you may submit applications for a maximum of two graduate programmes in any application cycle.

UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.

This page was last updated 28 Sep 2021