human rights centre

Human Rights Career Advice

Impatient to work in human rights? 

We are living through extraordinary times in which the world is facing great challenges, many of which are directly concerned with human rights. With a human rights degree from Essex, you will learn the skills which are becoming increasingly necessary and valuable in engaging with these challenges.

Director of the Human Rights Centre, Andrew Fagan, stresses how vital our role is going to be in the coming years.


Read the article
Which jobs will suit me?
  • A policy analyst; research associate; political affairs officer; fundraiser; statistician; interpreter; diplomat; ambassador; solicitor; international human rights specialist; field worker; economist; journalist; sociologist; historian; legal advisor; events coordinator; consultant; marketing and digital media coordinator. These are a small selection of roles you could consider with a degree in Human Rights.
  • There is no industry you could work in that is off-limits when it comes to the protection of human rights. You could work for charities; NGOs; law firms; the financial sector; local, national and international government organisations; film and television; news and media companies; environmental agencies; Embassies around the world and Governmental bodies such as the House of Commons.
  • Our graduates have gone onto lead successful careers in organisations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, GirlPower, FORUM-ASIA, Council of Europe, European Network Against Racism, Indonesian Bar Association, European Union and the Asylum Research Centre to name a few.

What opportunities will I receive as a human rights student?

The Human Rights Centre Clinic

The Human Rights Centre Clinic was founded in 2009 and 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 in partnership with a variety of organisations. Current and previous international partners have included:

Visit the Human Rights Centre Clinic

The opportunity to participate in real research projects

The Human Rights Centre Clinic runs ongoing research projects throughout the year in partnership with civil society organisations, international organisations, governments, national human rights institutions and UN human rights bodies.

There are two separate pathways open to students; stand-alone projects, which may be open to undergraduate or postgraduate students, and the Human Rights Clinic Module (HU902), which is open to postgraduate students.

Projects address a range of human rights and humanitarian law-related issues and generally involve research that partners need in order to further human rights advocacy and implementation of human rights or humanitarian law norms, such as supporting litigation, advocacy, policy and programme development or technical guidance on human rights.

Participating in active research projects during your studies is an excellent opportunity for you to apply your human rights knowledge to practical situations and further develop your professional skills in readiness for life after graduation. It's also a great asset to add to your CV.

Stand-alone Human Rights Clinic projects have included:
Module-based Human Rights Clinic projects have included:

If you'd like to learn more about these projects and how to get involved, we recommend taking a look at our dedicated Clinic webpages:


Learn more about the projects

Access to first class facilities

Not only will you benefit from access to fantastic opportunities from the Human Rights Centre such as working in the Human Rights Centre Clinic and participating in real research projects, as a joint honours student you will also benefit from the opportunities your host Department has to offer too.

Here are a few examples:

All our departments carry out cutting edge research, so throughout your studies, you may also find there are opportunities to get involved in different aspects of research alongside our expert academics, an excellent CV booster!

Student societies

There are lots of exciting societies for you to get involved with as an Essex student. These Societies are great for networking, making friends, improving your communication, skills, social skills, public speaking, negotiation and research skills. Joining a society also gives you the opportunity to participate in events, including career inspired events and inspiring talks from our alumni. Our student societies are a huge part of our culture at Essex and are an integral part of our Essex family.

Societies include:

There are lots of fantastic societies to get involved with, from political and representation to religious and cultural societies. We would really recommend getting involved in societies which share your passions and interests, and you'll find that it really broadens your university experience.


Explore our societies
Tear gas: staff and students help Amnesty create new platform

With public protests making headlines around the world, Essex staff and students have contributed to a new interactive platform from Amnesty International, documenting police use of tear gas.

Read the article

How will a human rights degree benefit my future career prospects?

Will employers value my degree?

Every day people's human rights are being affected. Many are challenged, abused and an alarming number are violated. Whether it's as a result of the global pandemic, the effects of climate change tearing down communities leaving people vulnerable and homeless, political instability, the physical and mental aftermath of war, growing inequality and racial discrimination, or by cause of cultural, social or economic issues, employers will recognise those with a degree in human rights as having advanced skills and knowledge to help them with the fight for those whose human rights are so cruelly affected.


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Which skills will I have developed? Are they transferrable?

As a joint honours student, you'll learn core human rights skills as well as skills from your secondary subject. The benefits of studying a joint honours degree means that your skills can be applicable across a range of different areas of human rights, something that employers will be impressed by in our progressively challenging climate.

A degree in human rights will help you develop:

  • a critical awareness of the nature of human rights in social, political, sociological, philosophical, economic and historical contexts
  • the ability to verbally argue your point with clear and concise verbal communication
  • the confidence to hold a debate, both in and out the courtroom
  • you'll gain knowledge of evaluative tools so that you can understand, respond to, and help shape national, regional, and international legal and political developments
  • how to investigate the many different social tensions, interactions and networks that make up everyday life
  • how to develop a wide range of practical research skills
  • how to examine and analyse human rights in local, international and global contexts
  • how to analyse translate and interpret information in various situations
  • confidence skills, important for being able to advocate for people's rights
  • how to explore and address the broadest questions about our society

Explore our courses

How will my degree help me to succeed in a challenging jobs market?

With acts of terrorism, states of emergency, global warming, political, economic and cultural changes and Covid-19, these are just a handful of challenges our world is facing and which all are a continuous threat to people's human rights. We live in a world where there will always be a demand for people highly trained in all areas of human rights.

By studying a joint honours course in human rights at Essex, your ability to demonstrate your combined knowledge, experience and expertise in human rights and how you can apply this to other industries will certainly impress and help you stand out from the crowd, especially where you may want to specialise in a particular area, for example, political journalism, human rights law, or supporting the rights of vulnerable communities in international organisations.

Out joint honours courses offer some fantastic modules too. Did you know that Politics with Human Rights students can enrol on our new Parliamentary Studies module? The module is taught in collaboration with the UK Parliament. It will cover not only the workings of both Houses of Parliament but also the role of Select Committees, the role and work of MPs and how the UK Parliament interacts with other Parliaments. This ground-breaking new module will give you a unique insight into the workings of the UK Parliament - sure to make your CV stand out.


Read more in the article

What if i'm not sure which area of human rights I want to work in?

The beauty of having a degree in human rights is that the world is your oyster. There are opportunities in a variety of industries where you can find employment. Throughout your degree, you will learn about different areas of human rights, and our expert academics will help you throughout your studies to explore your ideas and find the path that interests you. You will become part of a fantastic community of students, staff, fellow, and alumni who will all be there to guide you and offer advice along the way.

We would really encourage you to get involved with every opportunity that's available to you throughout your studies, including career events, networking sessions, applying to work on active research projects, or volunteer in the Human Rights Centre Clinic, and joining our fantastic clubs and Societies, as these opportunities are an excellent way for you to learn from other people, network, and help you to carve out ideas of where you would like to take your future in human rights.

A degree in human rights will prepare you for careers in fields such as:

  • politics
  • law
  • international relations
  • journalism
  • translation and interpreting
  • philosophy
  • film and television
  • business and economics
  • accounting and finance
  • digital and creative
  • management
  • data analytics

As you can see, whether it's active work in the field, a more behind the scenes role, or a mixture of both, there are a plethora of opportunities amongst different sectors where you can apply the skills you learn on a human rights degree. With so many niche and nuanced opportunities in the field of human rights, we guarantee the perfect role is waiting for you.

If you have any questions you'd like to have a chat about online with us, our students and staff would love to hear from you.


Chat to our students and staff

How will my career development be supported throughout my studies? 

Placements and Study Abroad


Human Rights students also have the opportunity to carry out exciting placements. In addition, we also work with the University's Student Development Team to help you find out about other work experience, internships and voluntary opportunities. Carrying out a placement or a voluntary position helps you to gain experience working in the field, and also provides you with key contacts within the industry giving you a competitive edge in the graduate job market.

Some of our students have completed work placements with companies such as:


Learn more about placements

Year abroad

We have partner institutions all over the world who are excited to welcome you, so if you're keen to study abroad for a year, have the itch to travel, and want to make life-long memories, this is the perfect opportunity for you.


Learn more about studying abroad

With opportunities for further study

Being a human rights professional with specialist knowledge and skill continues to become increasingly important in our changing society. Our Masters level courses build upon our distinctive expertise, reputation and experience in various areas of human rights, helping you to hone your skills, and prepare you for your future.

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. By studying a Masters course in human rights at Essex, you will become a member of one of the world’s oldest and most highly-respected environments for the multi-disciplinary study of human rights, and be mixing with one of the most culturally diverse and professionally successful community of human rights students, practitioners and academics.

We are also the first university in the UK to sign a memorandum of understanding with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), which has created internship and research opportunities for our postgraduate students and is based on our long-established expertise in international humanitarian law.

Some of our postgraduate students have gone on to work for the Council of Europe, the United Nations, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Save the Children, Shelter, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Commission of Jurists.

Learn more about postgraduate study  

Funding your further study:

Students at the University of Essex can benefit from a number of scholarship and funding opportunities. As a joint honours student, funding opportunities will depend on your Department.

Browse opportunities by Department:

Fee discounts:

If you are a graduate of the University of Essex, studied abroad here or have a spouse or partner studying here as a full-time international student paying overseas fees, we'll give you a loyalty discount of up to 33% on the tuition fee for your first year of postgraduate study at Essex.


Learn more about the loyalty discount 

A fantastic on-going relationship after you graduate

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 around the world.

We're honoured that our human rights programmes attract so many talented people from all four corners of the globe, who go on to secure roles working at the cutting edge of human rights issues in a bewildering range of organisations.

We're also introducing a new Essex Alumni Mentoring Scheme, which enables our alumni to serve as mentors for current Essex human rights students.


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 A lifetime of career support

The support you receive throughout your degree doesn't end once you graduate. Our Careers Services are here to support you in finding work in a challenging jobs market and carving out the career you worked so hard for throughout your studies. And the best part? Our Careers Services is available for our graduates throughout your lifetime:


Visit Career Services 

Essex alumni network

At Essex, our graduates remain an important part of our family. No matter the path you take after you graduate, or how long its been since you studied with us, Essex will always be your family. Joining our exclusive alumni network gives you access to a lifetime of exciting opportunities including networking events, discounts and much more:


Learn more about our alumni network 

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.

Lilia Petrosyan
Inspiring alumni success story

Lilia Petroysan, a human rights graduate, has been shortlisted for a British Council global alumni award. She has described how Essex’s international community and leading academics inspired her to pursue a career in protecting the rights of marginalised communities.

Read the article

Our inspiring alumni

The success of our students is something we are extremely proud of. Our graduates have gone on to work in some incredible roles, including:

Explore some of our graduate stories below:


Graduate stories

Ana Elena Campos - Jiménez, MA Human Rights and Cultural Diversity

Ana graduated in 2019 and her current role includes Minister Counsellor; General Counsellor; Chargée d' Affaires of the Embassy of Costa Rica in Kenia; Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship of Costa Rica and Permanent Representative of Costa Rica to UNEP and UN-Habitat; Nairobi, Kenya. The Embassy of Costa Rica in Kenya is the first and only Embassy of Costa Rica on the African continent.

Ana says: 'During my degree, I valued the multidisciplinary approach which enriched my previous human rights experience from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and UNHCR, Costa Rica; by allowing me to better understand and practice human rights, environmental international law, and diplomacy with a cultural sensibility approach.'

Explore courses related to culture and society:


Browse culture and society degrees



Iman Qassis, MA Human Rights Theory and Practice

Iman is currently working an exciting role as the Gender-based Violence Humanitarian Regional Specialist at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), for East and Southern Africa, based in Johannesburg. Prior to this, Iman worked with UN Women, which was an exciting role she secured straight after her graduation from Essex.

Imans' experience is mainly in GBV and protection, but also covers working in justice and security for women (including women and children survivors of sexual abuse within security forces and police, female inmates, protection shelters and hotlines). In recent years, Iman has been working in humanitarian contexts where her support is directed to crisis countries, and countries with different types of emergencies. This includes working with staff and groups on the ground and strengthening their capacities to respond to GBV in emergencies.


See our MA Theory and Practice of Human Rights


Azadah Mariam Raz Mohammad, LLM International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

Azadah graduated in 2012 and has worked with the United Nations, INGO, the Government of Afghanistan, International Criminal Court (visiting professional) and as an adjunct professor at the American University of Afghanistan.

In 2016, Azadah was awarded Fulbright Scholarship to do a second LLM (international criminal law concentration) at Ohio State University in the United States and is currently undertaking a PhD at the Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne.

As a starting point, Azadah came from a Commercial Law background, and the LLM programme at the University of Essex prepared her for her desired career in public international law and subsequently her roles working at the most challenging yet rewarding institutions.

Azadah says: 'Besides academic training, the University of Essex has provided me with a network of international law professionals that I stay in touch with and seek advice on various career objectives. It is worth mentioning that I was the first Afghan student from Afghanistan to study the LLM program at the University of Essex in 2011.'


See our LLM International Humanitarian Law


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.


See our LLM International Human Rights Law


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.


See our MA Theory and Practice of Human Rights


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.


See our LLM International Human Rights Law


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.


See our LLM International Human Rights Law


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