Studying LSE

LSE Human Rights courses




LSE Human Rights teaching includes the multidisciplinary MSc Human Rights and a series of short Certificate courses examining different aspects of human rights principles and practice. Each course runs once each year.

Certificate courses

War Human Rights

Law, War and Human Rights 
Registration is open
2 day course (15 - 16 February 2018)

This course examines the laws of war and international criminal law from the perspective of international human rights law. It confronts the crucial questions: are human rights law, the laws of war and international criminal law three distinct disciplines? Have they now become so entwined that it is not possible fully to understand one without some knowledge of the other?


International Law in the Cyber domain
Intensive two-day course
Dates: 1-2 March 2018

This course will explore the relationship between different legal regimes – public international law, international human rights law and international humanitarian law – and show how they work together and complement each other in the cyber domain.  The final session of the course will require participants to work on a group exercise involving the application of the law to a series of digital incidents. 

Law and practice

International Human Rights Law and Practice
Registration is closed
10 Monday evening classes, (next scheduled Michaelmas Term 2018)
Email to register interest 

Run in collaboration with leading practitioners in the human rights field, this ten week course provides a comprehensive understanding of human rights principles, their origins, the institutions responsible for their enforcement and how their content is determined.

Women human rights

Women's Human Rights
2 day course (2018 dates tbc)
Email to register interest

This unique and original two-day course examines the international human rights law framework that guarantees the rights of women and critically evaluate its potential to challenge core obstacles undermining the effective protection of women’s rights in the world today.

Human rights advocacy

Human Rights Advocacy
Dates: 2018 dates to be confirmed
2 day course

Email to register interest

This course will provide you with the latest academic analysis of the theory and practice of human rights advocacy. The course considers tools of advocacy: lobbying to change laws and policies, litigation and human rights documentation, social media campaigns, and street protests and demonstrations.  Participants will learn how to select effective advocacy tools and targets, the usefulness (or otherwise) of framing a problem as a human rights issue, the identification of key objectives for change, and the tricky business of measuring success.

Business human rights

Business and Human Rights 
Email to register interest
2 day course (2018 dates tbc)

This short course on Business and Human Rights has been designed to offer a wide range of professionals an intensive look at two key business and human rights issues: shareholder engagement and activism and access to remedy for business-related human rights harms. The two-day course will explore each of these issues providing the latest research, up-to-the-minute policy developments and will describe some of the more innovative company practices and civil society approaches in both areas. Through a mixture of lecture, role plays and group discussions, this course will offer participants a unique opportunity to engage with the course teachers who are leading professionals from business, multilateral organisations, civil society and academia in the business and human rights field.

Children Human Rights

Understanding Children's Human Rights
2-day course (Not currently scheduled)
Email to register interest

This practically-focussed two day course places in perspective international human rights law as it affects children.

The next date for this course is not yet scheduled. Join our mailing list or connect via our social networks to be updated.

Certificate courses - Frequently asked questions

How do I register for a course place?

Follow the link to the LSE online shop and book and pay securely.

Are there any discounts for LSE alumni?

LSE alumni, current staff and students are eligible for a 10% discount on the standard course fee. In order to claim the discount, please contact us from your staff or student email account or, if Alumni, with the year of your graduation and programme of study. Once your eligibility has been verified you will be provided with a discount code that you can use when booking online.

Can I pay in installments?

Please note that there is no option to pay in installments.

Are there any subsidised places?

Yes, a number of subsidised places are available on each short course, for the benefit of those who would otherwise be unable to attend. Applications for these places are competitively assessed, on the basis of merit and financial need. The Centre is unable to offer any financial or practical support in relation to travel and accommodation.

When should I register?

Registrations are accepted on a first come, first served basis, and the registration process will be closed once all places on the course are taken. You are advised to register early, to avoid disappointment.

What is your cancellation policy?

You may make a substitution without charge at any time before the start of the course, but all cancellations must be confirmed in writing. If your cancellation is received more than four weeks before the start of the course, you will be eligible for a full refund. If your cancellation is received between two and four weeks before the start of the course, 50% of the course fee will be retained and, if you cancel less than two weeks before, the course fee is entirely non-refundable. If written notification is not received and you do not attend, the full course fee will be retained as a cancellation charge.

What materials will I be provided with?

A full course pack, together with supplementary materials, will be provided at the first session in a large file and on USB storage device. In addition:

- Participants on two-day courses will be sent executive summaries of all papers in advance of the course.
- Participants on Monday evening courses will have access and borrowing rights at the LSE Library for the duration of the course.

What will I get at the end of the course?

The certificate of attendance will be awarded to all those who attend at least nine of the ten course sessions in the case of the ten-week certificate programme, all sessions in the case of the six week course or all sessions in the case of the two-day courses. 

Certificate in International Human Rights Law and Practice

Who is the course suitable for?

The course is designed to attract professional participants who are or will be leaders in their fields. This includes civil servants, judges, barristers, solicitors, legislators (or those involved in the legislative process), business people and NGO representatives. Interested members of the general public who want to improve their knowledge of human rights are also welcome. A university degree will normally be required as a condition of acceptance on the course.

What will the course cover?

The ten core components of the course are as follows:

  • 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    

Who is teaching on the course?

This course is taught by a team of leading barristers and distinguished academic experts. In 2017 they include: Dr Louise Arimatsu (Convenor), Iain Byrne, Professor Christine Chinkin,Jonathan Cooper OBE, Dr Kathryn Cronin, Dr James Irving, Professor Philip Leach, Professor Aileen McColgan, Dr Kai Moller and Professor Sandesh Sivakumaran.

Where and when is the course held?

The course sessions are held on consecutive Monday evenings from 6.00-8.00pm, at the London School of Economics and Political Science, Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE (click here for a How to get to LSE)

Two optional discussion seminars will be held at 6.30-8.30pm on other days during the ten-week course.

Is the course accredited for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points?

The short courses are accredited for CPD purposes by the Continuing Professional Development Certification Service.

What is the cost of taking the course?

The course fee is £1,970.

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

MSc Human Rights

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.

Further information

Download the handbook

We are now closed for applications for 2017/18 entry.

MSc - Frequently asked questions

Where can I get some general information about the MSc Human Rights programme?

Information about the MSc programme is set out in the graduate prospectus. This provides detailed guidance about the entry requirements for the programme; the structure and duration of the programme and the option courses available to students.  

Where can I get a prospectus?

The prospectus is available on the LSE website.  

When should I submit my application?

The program operates a rolling admissions system, without a specific application deadline. Please visit the Graduate Admissions page for further information about the applications process, a prospectus, and details of how to apply online.  

How can I check on the progress of my application?

See Tracking your application  

Do I have to send two academic references? Can I send a work one instead?

If you graduated in the last five years you must supply two academic references. If you wish you may also submit a further professional reference. If you graduated more than five years ago you may supply one academic and one professional reference. Applicants who graduated more than ten years ago may supply two professional references if no academic ones are available.  

What is the difference between doing a full-time and a part-time degree?

If you do the degree full-time, it will take 12 months and you will do courses to the value of four units (from October to September). If you do the degree part-time it will take 24 months as you will take courses to the value of two units each year (from October in academic year one to September in academic year two). Teaching hours are exactly the same, whether you are full or part time. Please note that the MSc Human Rights is not available as an evening option.

If you are interested in studying human rights in the evenings, you may be interested in the Centre for the Study of Human Rights short course programmes. The courses are held on consecutive Monday evenings over eight or ten weeks, or over two days. They are taught by leading human rights practitioners and academic experts. Find more information above in this page.

Do you offer a distance-learning option?


How is the academic year structured?

The year is divided into three terms: Michaelmas (September to December), Lent (January to March) and Summer (April to June). A full unit course will run over Michaelmas and Lent terms. A half-unit course will only run for one term (please note that half-unit courses are only available in one or the other term - they are not available in both terms). In the Summer Term there are usually revision classes in the first week, and examinations usually (but not always) take place in May. The dissertation is due mid- August. Full term dates are available at Term dates. You do not have to stay in London to write your dissertation but it is your responsibility to ensure that it reaches us by the due date.  

How are the courses structured?

The structure of courses varies in different departments around the School. Usually each course will consist of one lecture and one seminar each week. These will be from one to two hours long. Lectures and seminars are spread over the week.  

Where can I get more information on individual courses?

There is a LSE webpage called Calendar, which brings together regulations relating to students and their study. Click on LSE Calendar, then follow the link for Taught masters for rules and regulations for each degree and then click on Graduate course guides for further information on individual courses.  

How and when do I choose my options?

At the beginning of the year you are encouraged to attend all those courses that you are interested in. You have approximately one month to make your final decision and register for your final choice. Some courses are capped or otherwise have restricted access, which means they have a limited number of places. They will have an earlier registration deadline, and you may need to register your interest at an early stage.  

What about supervision?

Each student will be allocated an Academic Adviser at the beginning of the year and Dissertation Supervisor early in Lent Term.  

How big are seminar/class sizes?

All students taking a course will attend the same lecture. For most courses the class will be split into groups of 15 students for seminars.  

How much does it cost?

For MSc Human Rights 2016 entry the fees are: Full time Home/EU pay £14,784 and full time Overseas pay £21,576. More information about fees is on the Table of fees website.  

Are any financial awards available?

LSE offers a number of small awards that are made at the time of the admissions offer. These awards are allocated on the basis of academic merit and financial need. For further information please visit the LSE Financial Support Office page.

Sir Siegmund Warburg Scholarship is a scholarship (paying fees and contribution to living expenses) available for Palestinian and Israeli students. One award is made each year. Applicants to the scholarship must first have been accepted on to the MSc Human Rights at LSE  

What's the minimum English language requirement?

If your first language is not English or if the language of instruction of your previous degree is not English, we ask you to provide evidence of your command of English. You should include your test scores, if available, in the relevant section of the application form. If you receive an offer of admission, it will be subject to proof of your score. English tests must be less than two years old by 1 October in the year you intend to start your programme.

If you have not yet taken the test, your application can be considered in its absence, but any offer will be conditional on your achieving the required score.

Acceptable scores are:

  • IELTS (International English Language Testing System) with a minimum overall score of 7.0 (with at least 6.0 in speaking and writing, and 6.5 in listening and reading) 
  • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) with a minimum overall score of 107 in the internet based test (with a minimum of 22 in reading and listening, 21 in writing and 20 in speaking).  

Other test scores may be acceptable if you have already obtained them. You should supply evidence of your English test with your application and if you are made an offer we will indicate whether we will accept your score or if we require one of the tests above. You may be required to achieve a higher score at the discretion of the selectors. If you have not yet taken any English test, we recommend that you take the IELTS, TOEFL or LSE test.

What do people do after doing a degree with you?

All sorts of things - work for NGOs, international organisations such as the UN and Amnesty, national governments, consultancies, research organisations, think-tanks, local and national charities, go on to do PhDs, work in human rights law, and much more. See a sample of alumni profiles

Can I get a syllabus or reading list?

Complete reading lists for the MSc in Human Rights are accessible only to registered students. However, the following two books are core reading for the course:

Freeman, Michael, Human Rights (London, Polity Press, 2002)

Steiner H and Alston P, International Human Rights in Context: Law, Politics and Morals(3rd ed., Oxford, OUP, 2007)  

Where can I obtain more detailed information?

Have look at the MSc Human Rights student handbook (PDF).

I have a place on the course and will start in September. Where can I find information about what I need to do on arrival at LSE?

Have a look at Your First Weeks. Registration information will be sent from LSE in late July and from the Centre for the Study of Human Rights in late August.  

Key dates for registration and orientation at LSE and on the MSc Human Rights programme will also be posted on the Department of Sociology New Arrivals pages over summer.

If you are holding an offer to start in September, you will have been invited to join the Facebook group dedicated to MSc Human Rights offer holders, where you have the opportunity to interact with other offer holders before you start. If you’re joining us in September and would like to join the Facebook group, please contact .

Term dates are available online and here:

  • Michaelmas Term Thursday 21 September 2017 – Friday 08 December 2017 
  • Lent Term Monday 08 January 2018 – Friday 23 March 2018
  • Summer Term Monday 23 April 2018 – Friday 08 June 2018

Can you tell me about the new visa system?

The points based visa application system requires you to hold proof of an unconditional offer before applying for a visa. You must also have returned your offer reply form to use with your passport number on it so we can issue you a certificate with an LSE registration number to allow you to apply for a visa. We recommend that students who require a visa submit their application as early as possible.

Further information can be found on the LSE's Visa Information for prospective students and the UK Council for International Student Affairs.  

Further questions about the application process and requirements can be answered at the Sociology Study pages.