human rights centre

Career development

Delivering on our promise to teach both theory and practice

Over the last 35 years, the Human Rights Centre has produced over 2000 graduates who now work as human rights professionals across the globe.

We feed this experience into the courses and extra-curricular activities we offer to ensure you receive a comprehensive education in preparation for a successful career. With this in mind we offer a number of opportunities to develop your skills and gain invaluable professional experience.


Human Rights Centre Clinic

The Human Rights Centre Clinic is a focal point of the Human Rights Centre, bridging the gap between human rights practitioners in the field and academia, and delivering cutting edge human rights based research on behalf of partner organisations around the world. Students receive on-going training and professional development opportunities, and gain experience of working in a professional human rights environment

Competitions and careers events

European Human Rights Moot Court Competition

The European Human Rights Moot Court Competition in English simulates the procedure of complaints to the European Court of Human Rights. Teams work on a fictional case, and argue their case in front of panels of experts, relying on the European Convention on Human Rights and its Protocols and following the procedures applied in the European Court of Human Rights. Essex teams have gone far in the competition on numerous occasions, reaching second place in 2013 out of 120 teams competing from 31 countries.

Pictet International Humanitarian Law Competition

The Jean-Pictet Competition is a week-long competition focused on international humanitarian law. This is the most prestigious international humanitarian law competition, with dozens of teams from all over the world competing for the title. The focus of the competition is on 'taking law out of the books' through the use of simulations and role plays, thereby allowing the jury to evaluate teams' practical and theoretical knowledge of international humanitarian law. Essex regularly reaches the semi-finals and finals and having first won the title 25 years ago, Essex won again in 2018.


Students are also offered the opportunity to engage in simulated exercises addressing the response to humanitarian situations. Each year postgraduate students engage with the 16th Air Assault Brigade and the Engineer Regiment (Air Assault) to plan a response to a fictional scenario involving military intervention. This simulated exercise involves planning a response to famine, the mass movement of refugees, and security issues relating to insurgents.

Careers events

We run a number of careers events every year, each designed to provide you with insight into a specific area of human rights related work. Events include:

  • Working with international institutions
  • Working for NGOs
  • Working for government

These events involve human rights professionals working in the relevant field, giving you an insider view of the career itself, as well as advice on the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed.

Human Rights Study Trips

Each year the Human Rights Centre organises two study trips which give you opportunities to engage with human rights professionals, organisations, and institutions, and offer an insight into the practical application of human rights.

These trips allow access to individuals and institutions normally inaccessible to students, and give you a unique opportunity to experience the reality of human rights while enhancing your learning experience.

Trips are open to all Human Rights Centre students and are led by Human Rights Centre staff.


The Human Rights Institutions trip is a core component of our commitment to promoting our student’s knowledge of how human rights are applied in practice. During a highly intensive three days we visit a number of key human rights institutions based in Geneva.

Typically, these visits include the Human Rights Council, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Human Rights Committee, UNHCR, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the World Health Organisation and key non-governmental human rights organisations.

The visits enable our students to attend key sessions of many of core human rights bodies and to meet with some of the professionals who contribute to the promotion and protection of human rights across the globe. The visits also afford invaluable networking opportunities in which students are able to discuss internship and employment opportunities with key human rights professionals.

The trip also typically includes an evening in which existing students can meet with some of the many Essex alumni who have successfully secured professional human rights careers in Geneva.


The Kosovo Trip offers an excellent insight into the complexities of attaining human rights coherence in ethnically divided and historically conflicted zones, and involves a week-long educational tour of the division and continuing tensions amongst ethnic Albanian, Serbian and Romani communities in the Balkans.

The tour mainly takes place in and around the capital Pristina, the operational base of the international peacekeeping force. Students are given the opportunity to participate in panels with various UN organisations based in the area, to meet with local NGOs, to visit the local war crimes court, and to experience the reality of a post-conflict environment.


Over 2,000 people have graduated from the Human Rights Centre since the first course began in 1983. Our alumni are an essential part of the human rights community at Essex, ensuring that our human rights reach extends across the globe.

Graduate stories

Professor Cephas Lumina, LLM International Human Rights Law 

Professor Cephas Lumina of the Nelson Mandela Law School, University of Fort Hare, is the former UN independent expert on the effects of foreign debt and is on the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. In 2012, his new Guiding Principles on Foreign Debt and Human Rights were endorsed by the UN.

Ricky Gunawan, MA Theory and Practice of Human Rights 

Ricky is Director of the Community Legal Aid Institute in Jakarta where he provides free legal services to poor and marginalized groups. He specialises in access to justice, law reform, fair trial, torture, death penalty, right to health, human rights and HIV, and drugs policy.

Louise Finer, LLM International Human Rights Law

Louise is Senior Policy Officer and National Preventive Mechanism Coordinator at HM Inspectorate of Prisons providing policy and human rights advice and contributing to parliamentary and policy processes relating to the treatment and conditions of detainees.

Magdalena Sepulveda Carmona, LLM International Human Rights Law

Magdalena is a Senior Research Associate at the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development and former UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.

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