Our Masters in human rights offers a concentrated 12 month (or 24 months, part-time) engagement with the foundations of, and key problems in, human rights. Based in the department of Sociology, students interact with a number of disciplines so that the broadest definition of human rights can be explored.
The core course is 'Approaches to Human Rights' - a multi-disciplinary course that provides students with a rigorous and focused engagement with three central disciplinary perspectives on the subject of human rights: philosophy, sociology and law (international and domestic).
The course aims to provide students with contending interpretations of human rights as idea and practice from the different standpoints that these disciplines present (including debates from within and between the disciplines), and to investigate explicitly the particular knowledge claims and modes of reasoning that the respective disciplines engage. Further, the course applies the insights of disciplinary frameworks of understanding to key human rights issues such as the right to life, free speech, genocide, transitional justice, group rights, poverty, globalization, terrorism and civil liberties.
The 10,000 word dissertation provides an opportunity to investigate further a subject of particular interest. We encourage students to concentrate on specific case studies, laws or problems and critically to apply their human rights knowledge. In previous years dissertations have dealt with, for example, the changes in American foreign policy in the Middle East after September 11; international financial institutions in sub-Saharan Africa; Japanese social structure and women's human rights; public protest and the freedom of political expression in the UK; transitional justice; and child soldiers.
With a wide choice of modules from within Sociology and many other departments, the MSc can be tailored to particular interests. Our students have a broad range of backgrounds, nationalities, ages, and academic and professional qualifications. Each year we see their diversity enhancing the challenges they pose to each other on the issues raised by their studies. Equally, their career paths are diverse, depending on their experience, interest and ambition. The MSc is not a vocational qualification, rather it is a guide to critical thinking about human rights as an object of study and a matter of policy, intervention and practice.
MSc Human Rights frequently asked questions
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