Protecting human rights, refugees and displaced persons in international law


This core module provides you – regardless of whether you have a legal background or not - with a firm understanding of the fundamentals of international law in relation to the protection of refugees and human rights.

Topics covered

  • Key concepts, standards and mechanisms in public international law, international human rights law and international refugee law
  • Military interventions and the use of force between States
  • Who is a refugee?
  • Refugee rights and the impact of large-scale refugee flows
  • Complementary protection under human rights law
  • Implementation and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
  • Refugee status procedures

Learning outcomes

This module seeks to impart a critical understanding of the key concepts, standards and mechanisms of international law as applied to the protection of refugees and displaced persons. You will learn to build, deploy and defend legal arguments concerning the fundamentals of refugee and human rights protection, and apply these legal frameworks to practical scenarios based on contemporary factual situations.


Each core module is assessed via a final item of coursework, which comprises 70% of the overall grade, and five online assessments (E-tivities), which make up 30% of the overall grade.

Module team

Elizabeth Mavropoulou - RPFMS tutor

Dr Elizabeth Mavropoulou - Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies

Elizabeth studied law in Athens (LLB) where she qualified as an attorney at law (non-practising). She completed her postgraduate degree in Public International Law at the University of Westminster (LLM, Distinction).

In 2021, Elizabeth completed her PhD degree defending her Thesis ‘Responsibility Sharing in International Refugee Law; Towards Differentiated Legal Obligations’. She currently lectures part-time on public international law and international human rights law modules at the University of Westminster.

For the past eight years, Elizabeth has been with the UK-based charity Human Rights at Sea where she is the Programme Manager running and overseeing its programmes and projects. The charity acts as a global catalyst for human rights in the maritime environment and through research, advocacy, investigation and lobbying has contributed to legal and policy developments in countries around the world.

Dr Nikolas Feith Tan - Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies

Nikolas is a senior researcher at the Danish Institute for Human Rights, where he works on refugee and asylum law. His academic work has been published in the International Journal of Refugee Law, European Journal of Migration and Law and Nordic Journal of International Law and in specialist edited volumes.

Nikolas has taught masters-level courses related to international refugee law with Aalborg University and Aarhus University, and since 2016 has tutored the core module RPM010 Protecting human rights, refugees and displaced persons in international law for this masters programme. He has been convenor since 2020. He is also chair of Refugee Law Initiative's (RLI) working group on externalisation.

Nikolas has also acted as legal consultant for Amnesty International, the Danish Refugee Council and UNHCR on various aspects of international protection.

Pauline Endres de Oliveira, module convenor

Pauline Endres de Oliveira - Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies

Pauline is a human rights lawyer from Berlin. She studied law at the Humboldt University and the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, with legal traineeships in Brazil, London and Rome.

Currently, Pauline works as research assistant at the Justus Liebig University Gießen, where she is also enrolled as a PhD fellow (supervisor: Professor Jürgen Bast), focusing on the topic of safe access to protection in the EU.

Pauline is a lecturer in asylum and migration law at the Humboldt University of Berlin (Refugee Law Clinic) and member of Amnesty International’s expert commission on asylum. Previously, she worked as a consultant for UNHCR Germany from 2013 - 2015 and in 2016 she was a visiting study fellow at the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford.

Riona Moodley module conveynor

Riona Moodley - Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies

Riona is an Australian lawyer and PhD candidate at the Andrew and Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at the University of New South Wales, Sydney (UNSW). Her doctoral research focuses on proposals in the European Union to process applications for asylum and refugee status before migrants reach Europe. In particular, her research assesses the legal feasibility of implementing such measures under international and EU human rights law.

Riona is also a teaching fellow at the Faculty of Law, UNSW, and lectures on core LLB subjects including civil procedure, dispute resolution and corporations law. Prior to her studies, Riona worked as a litigation lawyer in the Global Disputes team at the US law firm, Jones Day, and has over 10 years of experience working in commercial legal practice. Her current research interests include European human rights law, international refugee law an the extraterritorial processing of asylum seekers.

Natasha Yacoub, module convenyor SAS

Natasha Yacoub - Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies

Natasha is a doctoral scholar at the Andrew and Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at the University of New South Wales. Her thesis is titled: ‘Gendering the international law criteria for the return of refugees and internally displaced persons: case study on the Sudan’.

Natasha is presently on leave from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, where she has been posted since 2001 in conflict and peacetime settings in Egypt, Sudan, Ireland, United Nations Headquarters New York, Myanmar, Australia and the Pacific Island States (including Nauru and Papua New Guinea).

She also served as a decision-maker on the Refugee Review Tribunal and Migration Review Tribunal in Australia from 2012 to 2014. Her research interests are regional refugee protection, refugee status determination, statelessness, protection of civilians and feminist legal theory.