We encourage students to explore their areas of interest. A lot of our assignments enable you to explore something you're passionate about.
MA, PGDip and PGCert
Available to study anywhere in the world
This MA is based on an established programme developed in collaboration with leading human rights activists to provide training for future human rights professionals.
The cutting-edge content looks at human rights issues from a practical perspective as well as a theoretical and legal one. We offer a wide range of elective modules. The topics address emerging issues in human rights, such as the impact of environmental destruction on human rights; human rights and the Sustainable Development Goals; or cultural genocide.
Note: this course was previously referred to as: Understanding and Securing Human Rights.
Study with us for an interdisciplinary approach, with a vibrant, global mix of students and chances to learn from human rights professionals from around the world.
Programme structure, modules and specification
- MA: You study 7 modules (3 compulsory, 3 electives, 1 dissertation).
- PGDip: You study 6 modules (3 compulsory, 3 elective).
- PGCert: You study 3 compulsory modules (excluding dissertation).
Each module runs for 14 weeks, starting in September or February. Most modules are available to study individually on a stand-alone basis.
This programme has two intake dates per year: February and September.
How you study
The programme is available online and is fully supported by a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), as well as study materials and help from academic staff. It allows you to study anywhere in the world and fit your studies around your other commitments.
You receive individual module handbooks, assessment activities and digitised readings.
For each module, you will be able to discuss your work with fellow students and tutors. Expert tuition is provided via podcasts and videos from leading academics and human rights professionals.
When you register, we will give you access to your Student Portal. You can then access your University of London email account and other key resources:
- The Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) enables access to course materials, resources, and forums to discuss course material and work collaboratively with others. Tutors are available to answer queries and promote discussion during the study year through the VLE.
- The Online Library provides access to over 100 million academic electronic items comprising E-books, E-journals, conference proceedings, etc. In addition, students can request items which are not held in the library via the library's Inter-Library loans service with the British Library.
Senate House Library provides free reference access for all registered distance and flexible learning students.
Your time commitment
All modules run during two 14-week study sessions throughout the year. You register for up to two modules per session and should expect to devote between 15-20 hours per week to your studies during these periods (assuming you take two modules).
- Understanding Human Rights / Translating Human Rights into International Law: assessed by a seen written exam (70% of the grade) and three E-tivities (30%).
- Securing Human Rights: assessed by two equally-weighted items of coursework (70% of the grade) and three E-tivities (30%).
- All elective modules: assessed by one item of coursework (70% of the grade) and three E-tivities (30%).
- Dissertation: assessed by a research proposal (15% of the grade) and a written thesis (85%).
Examinations are held twice a year (usually January and June) at exam centres located all around the world.
What qualifications do you need?
An undergraduate degree (e.g. bachelor) which is considered at least comparable to a UK upper second class honours degree, from an institution acceptable to the University.
If you do not meet the entrance requirements you may still apply. Each application will be considered on an individual basis by the Programme Director, giving attention to alternative qualifications and/or relevant experience.
English Language requirements
If your first degree was not taught in English, you will need to provide evidence of language ability as tested by the British Council or another registered body. This is equivalent to:
- A score of 7.0 overall in the IELTS test, or 7.0 in both reading and writing.
- (TOEFL) iBT Test of English as a Foreign Language with an overall score of 95 or above, including a minimum of 24 attained on the reading and writing skills sub-tests and a minimum of 25 attained on the speaking sub-test and 22 attained on the listening sub-test.
- Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English.
- Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (at grade C or above).
- Duolingo: must achieve an overall score of at least 130.
We set minimum basic computer requirements because your study resources are accessed via the Student Portal and it is vital that you can access this regularly. Certain courses may have additional requirements, such as software to manage spreadsheets and run macros.
The fees below apply if you begin during the 2022-2023 session and are subject to annual review.
Disclaimer: Currency conversion tool.
*The online examination administration fee is charged for each examination paper held online, including resits. This does not apply to any coursework submissions.
You will also need to budget for examination centre fees, which are paid directly to the venues where you sit your exams.
This MA programme is designed for those who wish to develop or enhance careers in a range of professional contexts in the human rights or humanitarian fields.
Graduates of the related on-campus MA have gone on to work for major international NGOs including Amnesty International, Oxfam, Friends of the Earth and Anti-Slavery International, as well as several UN agencies, businesses, academia and in government.
Students can also specialise in developing research skills in human rights for future PhD studies.
What do employers think of our graduates?
In some countries, qualifications earned by distance and flexible learning may not be recognised by certain authorities or regulators for the purposes of public sector employment or further study. We advise you to explore the local recognition status before you register, even if you plan to receive support from a local teaching institution.
The School of Advanced Study unites nine specialist humanities and social science research Institutes at the University of London. It is the only institution of its kind in the United Kingdom, nationally funded to promote and facilitate research in the humanities and social sciences.
The Human Rights Consortium (HRC) of the School of Advanced Study was established to facilitate and promote inter-disciplinary research in human rights nationally and internationally. The Consortium's mandate includes:
- organising and supporting events on human rights;
- disseminating research on human rights;
- fostering national and international networks of human rights researchers;
- hosting visiting fellows working in human rights;
- training research students, and enhancing the learning environment for graduate students;
- raising funds in support of human rights research and research support.
Dr Corinne Lennox is a Senior Lecturer in Human Rights and Programme Director of the MA in Human Rights. She also is Co-Director of the Human Rights Consortium. Her research focuses on issues of minority and indigenous rights protection, civil society mobilisation for human rights, and human rights and development.
Dr Damien Short is a Professor in Human Rights at the School of Advanced Study and Co-Director of the Human Rights Consortium (HRC). He has spent his professional career working in the field of human rights, both as a scholar and as a human rights advocate. He has published extensively in the areas of indigenous peoples’ rights, genocide studies, reconciliation projects and environmental human rights.
Professor John Cerone is the Paul Martin Senior Professor in International Affairs and Law at the University of Windsor Faculty of Law, and Visiting Professor of International Law at the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy (Tufts University). As a practising lawyer, he has worked for organisations including the UN, Amnesty International, and the International Crisis Group, and has served as a legal adviser to international criminal tribunals. He has extensive field experience in conflict and post-conflict environments.
Dr Michele Lamb is currently Senior Research Fellow at the University of Roehampton, and Fellow of the University of Essex Human Rights Centre. She was formerly Director of the Crucible Centre for Human Rights Research. Her research is on the emerging field of the Sociology of Human Rights, Buddhist contributions to human rights theory and practice, human rights education, and social and economic rights.
The Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) is a state institution independent of government with a 20-year track record in human rights development work around the world. Its highly acclaimed research department combines academic research with practical experience from work with partners on the ground.
Funding your study
Without the cost of moving to London, studying for your University of London degree anywhere in the world represents excellent value for money. However, there are additional sources of support depending on where you live and how you choose to study.
If you are a UK or EU national and you have lived in England for three years, you could be eligible to apply for a Postgraduate Loan.
The Aziz Foundation Scholarship Programme, offers four Master’s scholarships for the 2023-24 academic year.
Can I get sponsored?
If you're employed, your employer may be willing to cover part/all of the programme fees if you can make a compelling case as to how this programme will boost your contribution to the workplace.
Our courses are ideal for employers because they get to retain you as an employee and benefit from your learning from the moment you begin.
Hear from the programme director
Vani Saraswathi, MA Human Rights
"What I have found particularly interesting and useful to my line of work is acquiring the language for advocacy, and using that language effectively."