About the course
Our LLM International Human Rights Law is the oldest established human rights law course in Europe, and reflects our University’s global reputation as the leading centre for human rights research, practice and education. In 2009 the University was awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in recognition of its excellence in the advancement of human rights.
We provide an advanced conceptual understanding of the international law on the promotion and protection of human rights, at the international, regional and national level, informed by the latest practice and scholarship.
Our course sets international human rights law in its philosophical and historical contexts, enabling you to understand international human rights law as it applies in various situations including states of emergency or acute crises, development and transition.
At Essex we specialise in commercial law, public law, and human rights law. We are top 20 in the UK for research excellence (REF 2014), and we are ranked among the top 200 departments on the planet according to the QS World [University] Rankings  for law.
We attract some of the most experienced and academically qualified students from around the world, and we aim to produce graduates who will be leaders in the field of international human rights law as advocates, field officers, legal advisers or researchers with governments and international and non-governmental organisations.
This course is also available on a part-time basis.
We strongly recommended that those without previous experience undertake at least a one-month internship with an intergovernmental or non-governmental organisation in London, Geneva or elsewhere.
This can be accommodated while studying for your dissertation, and extensions are available for those wishing to pursue this option full-time (for students who do not require a visa to study in the UK).
Students have previously interned with Amnesty International, Anti-Slavery International, Article 19, the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, the Council of Europe, JUSTICE, the International Commission of Jurists, the International Service for Human Rights, INTERIGHTS, Minority Rights Group International, REDRESS and UNHCR to name a few organisations.
“There are always interesting projects and research going on at Essex, with academic staff happy to involve current students. The University also has numerous student societies focussed on human rights, which allowed me to go beyond my reading and writing to gain practical experience."
Cicek Gockun, LLM International Human Rights Law, 2011
Our expert staff
Our work has always been informed by human rights practice and our senior staff have held - and continue to occupy - key positions in the United Nations human rights and development fields. We have also conducted numerous cases in Strasbourg, establishing far-reaching precedents that have shaped the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights.
At Essex, our objective is to ensure you receive a rigorous academic education that also prepares you for working as a human rights advocate. Every member of our teaching team is a leading human rights academic, as well as a practitioner in the field.
Our team includes former UN Special Rapporteurs, members of UN treaty bodies, the UK member of the UN Human Rights Committee, a member of the Government’s new Advisory Group on Human Rights. We are also advisers to a range of international organisations (like the OHCHR, UNHCR and WHO), as well as to NGOs around the world, and litigators before national courts, regional human rights commissions and courts, international courts and tribunals, and the UN treaty bodies.
- Participate in various legal competitions to hone your debating, mediation and negotiation skills
- Work on key human rights projects at our Human Rights Clinic
- Network at our student-run Law Society, Human Rights Society, and Bar Society, which provides legal advice to the Commonwealth Students’ Association (CSA)
- Our Essex Street Law project is one of the first of its kind and is the primary pro-bono project provided by our Law Society
- Volunteer at the Essex Law Clinic where you can work alongside practicing solicitors to offer legal advice to clients
- Gain commercial awareness at our Business and Legal Advice Clinic
- Join our Model United Nations society, which can improve your skills of argumentation, oral presentation and research
- Take advantage of networking opportunities throughout the year with visiting law firms
We also offer a range of opportunities for working with projects associated with our Human Rights Centre:
- Essex Transitional Justice Network
- International Centre on Human Rights and Drug Policy
- Human Rights in Iran Unit
- Essex Autonomy Project
- Detention, Rights and Social Justice Programme
The majority of our students go on, or return, to work in human rights as litigators, in NGOs and international organisations like the UN, in government (particularly Ministries of Foreign Affairs) and in academia. They are a conspicuous presence in all the key human rights hubs in the world.
Our School of Law graduates have gone on to a wide variety of careers in international and intergovernmental organisations or employment with governments across the world, in commerce and banking, in non-governmental organisations and, as might be expected, in the legal profession and the judiciary.
Recent graduates of LLM International Human Rights Law have found employment as:
- National Protection Officer for UNHCR
- An advocate for Refugees International
- A lawyer for the Registry of the European Court of Human Rights
- An adviser for the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT)
- Lead lawyer for the Human Rights Advocacy Centre/Memorial
- A trade promotion manager at the Department of Trade and Industry
We are first university in the UK to sign a memorandum of understanding with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). This creates internship and research opportunities for our postgraduate students and is based on our long-established expertise in international humanitarian law.
During the year, we hold a careers session for our students in which we reflect upon our own careers and how they have been built as well as those from former students. We are always available to discuss career options and if you are interested in a particular area of human rights, we can link you up with the relevant alumni to offer advice.
We also work with the university’s Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.
UK entry requirements
A degree with an overall high 2:2 in Law. Relevant professional experience and/or traineeships or professional qualifications/certifications issued by professional bodies such as Bar Associations will be taken into account. Graduates in subjects other than law will also be considered, with relevant professional experience.
International and EU entry requirements
We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries.
for further details about the qualifications we accept. Include information in your email about the
undergraduate qualification you have already completed or are currently taking.
English language requirements
IELTS 6.5 overall with a minimum component score of 5.5 except for 6.0 in writing
If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.