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.
Covid-19 programme updates
Due to COVID-19, there may have been updates to this programme for the 2020 academic year. Where there has been an update, these are indicated with a red alert and a link which will provide further information.
Modes and duration
Tuition fees (2020/21)
Note on fees: The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website.
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
Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.
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.
Select your country:
About this degree
Students develop an understanding of the central issues and problems in the formulation, defence, development, interpretation and application of human rights instruments, law, practice and policy. They gain knowledge of central disciplines and their contribution to human rights studies, and are equipped with key research skills in human rights.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
Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.
The programme consists of four core modules (75 credits), three optional modules (45 credits), and a research dissertation (60 credits).
Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded a MA in Human Rights.
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.
- International Law and Human Rights (30)
- Theoretical Foundations of Human Rights (15)
- Human Rights: Politics and Practice (15)
- Normative Methods, Legal Analysis and Research Skills (15)
Choose one of the following 15 credit methods modules:
- Qualitative Methods: Interviews, Observations and Mixed Methods (15)
- Qualitative Methods: Case Studies and Comparative Analysis (15)
- Introduction to Quantitative Methods (15)
- Advanced Quantitative Methods (15)
- Qualitative Methods:Texts and Images (15)
Further modules can be chosen up to a value of 30 credits in total from a list available on our website. The full list of modules offered by the Department is subject to change year-to-year.
All MA students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a dissertation of 10,000 words.
Teaching and learning
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.
For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.
Graduates of the programme have secured employment in institutions and organisations including the UK Foreign Office, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman UK, British Institute for Human Rights, the European Union, the Council of Europe, Amnesty International, ILGA, Mediterranean Institute of Gender Studies. Some of our students are now human rights lawyers. Our students have also 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.
Why study this degree at UCL?
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.
Department: Political Science
Application and 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 £80 for online applications and £105 for paper applications. Further information can be found at: www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/taught/application.
Who can apply?
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.
- All applicants
- 11 August 2020
For more information see our Applications page.Apply now
What are we looking for?
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 marks, the department will calculate all years of undergraduate study.
UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.