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International Human Rights Law and Practice

Ten week Monday evening  course - CPD accredited
October - December (2014 dates & details will be confirmed in early Summer) 

In today's legal, policy and business worlds, international human rights law affects the way all of us work, either explicitly or implicitly. A knowledge of international human rights standards is increasingly required. Therefore those involved in the legal professions - whether as barristers, solicitors, employed lawyers or judges - and those involved in government, public policy and business, need to have a solid understanding of the breadth and depth of human rights principles. So too do increasing numbers of those involved in NGOs and in civil society work generally.

International human rights law is a subject that barely featured on university curricula just a few years ago, and it remains hard to find guidance on the subject that is easily accessible, clear, authoritative and up-to-date. No other course in the UK offers the range of expertise and depth of understanding of human rights law that will be available on this programme. The course will provide an indispensable guide to this burgeoning field of law. A certificate of attendance from the Centre for the Study of Human Rights at LSE will be awarded to those who have successfully completed the course.

What past participants say

"I have enjoyed the course tremendously. I found it engaging and thought-provoking, bringing to life areas of international human rights law which I have only read about."

All the lecturers were very knowledgeable, leaders in their field and enormously experienced."

"It has been an excellent course which will stand me in very good stead for developing further my organisation's policy and advocacy work."

The course exceeded my expectations."

"I have a Masters in human rights and felt this course offered an in-depth overview of the key rights topics and gave me the legal focus that I was seeking"

"The course provided an up to date and sophisticated picture of the political context - a crucial part of the law of human rights that other courses don't cover"

Course components

  • Human rights: philosophy, politics or law? Background, history and foundational principles
  • Regional mechanisms for promoting and protecting human rights
  • The international institutional framework for promoting and protecting human rights
  • Defending civil rights: prohibiting torture, protecting life, guaranteeing a fair trial and preventing arbitrary detention
  • Economic, social and cultural rights and how they are enforced
  • Human rights as democratic values: participatory rights in practice
  • The relationship between international human rights and rights of refugees
  • Equality and minority rights: the enforcement of protection from discrimination
  • People’s rights: indigenous people, the right to self-determination and third generation rights
  • Rights in the private sphere: non-state actors, paramilitary organisations, regulating business and other private relationships

Why take this course?

  • Delivers a comprehensive understanding of internationally recognised human rights instruments and standards
  • Explains how human rights standards work and shows how they can be applied in practice
  • Offers access to leading human rights practitioners and academics
  • Provides a coherent account of international human rights institutions
  • Shows the relevance of international human rights law to domestic law
  • Identifies how human rights standards influence the development of law and policy
  • Improves critical awareness of key issues in contemporary human rights 

Participants will be provided with detailed course materials (essential and additional readings for each session) and a full set of International Human Rights Law documents. They will also have full access and borrowing rights at the LSE Library for the duration of the course.


This course is taught by a team of leading barristers and distinguished academic experts. In 2013 they were:

  • Professor Susan Breau, Professor of International Law,,University of Reading and Legal Consultant to Oxford Research Group's Every Casualty programme.   
  • Iain Byrne, Acting Head of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Team, Amnesty International, and Fellow at Essex University's Human Rights Centre. 
  • Professor Christine Chinkin FBA, Professor of International Law at LSE, member of Matrix Chambers and currently a member of the Kosovo Human Rights Advisory Panel.
  • Professor Andrew Clapham, Professor of International Law at the Graduate Institute of International Studies Institute and former Representative of Amnesty International to the United Nations in New York. 
  • Jane Gordon, LSE Visiting Fellow, independent human rights advisor to statutory and public agencies, and accredited gender and sexual violence expert with UN Women.
  • Raza Husain QC, barrister at Matrix Chambers specialising in public law, with an emphasis on immigration and human rights.
  • Professor Francesca Klug OBE, director of the Human Rights Futures Programme at LSE. 
  • Professor Philip Leach, Professor of Human Rights, a solicitor, and Director of EHRAC, the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre, at Middlesex University
  • Professor Aileen McColgan, Professor of Human Rights Law at Kings College London, member of Matrix Chambers and the British expert on the EU Commission's network of gender equality legal experts. 
  • Tim Otty QC, barrister at Blackstone Chambers who has led some of the most high profile human rights cases of recent times.  

The course is convened, and each session chaired, by Madeleine Colvin.

Madeleine is a human rights lawyer who worked for several human rights organisations including Liberty and JUSTICE. She is the author of publications on surveillance and privacy. She is currently a human rights consultant and a part-time Immigration Judge. She is an Associate Tenant at Doughty Street Chambers, a member of the Ethics Group for the national DNA database, and a practising mediator focusing on equality issues.

Fees and administration

The standard course fee (in 2013)I was £1,970.  Fees for 2014 will be confirmed in early Summer.

The Centre is able to offer up to five subsidised places, at £985, in support of those who would otherwise be unable to take the course.

Applications will be competitively assessed  and subsidised places will be awarded on the basis of merit and financial need. Priority will be given to those working in non-governmental or voluntary sector organisations who are able to demonstrate a clear benefit to that organisation beyond their personal education and professional development. 

Please note that if your application is not successful you will not be guaranteed a full-price place on the course. 

The Centre is regrettably not able to provide any additional assistance, financial or practical, in the securing of travel to, or accommodation in, London.

Frequently asked questions about the course|