Impatient to become one of this generation's next human rights defenders?

At Essex, your human rights education is fundamentally underpinned by our desire to ensure you are equipped with the tools you need for seeking to make the world a fairer and better place, for its billions of inhabitants.

With Essex spear-heading the development of interdisciplinary human rights education, our undergraduate courses offer an exciting range of joint degrees, giving you the unique chance to combine your interest in human rights with a variety of other interesting subjects, such as law, politics, philosophy, history, global studies, journalism, and even Latin American studies. You will also have the chance to get involved in lots of exciting opportunities too.

If you're considering studying a Masters course in human rights at Essex, you'll receive world-class teaching, with an unrivalled range of options to explore your specific areas of interest. These areas include topics such as international humanitarian law, and economic, social and cultural rights.

If you're considering studying for a PhD in human rights, Essex should be your first choice. Our inspiring, expert academics, who have held prestigious appointments in organisations such as the UN and regularly work on projects with organisations such as Amnesty International, are open to supervision in an impressive range of topics giving you the opportunity to curate an exceptional postgraduate experience like no other.

We're honoured that our human rights programmes attract so many talented people from all four corners of the globe, who, with the help and support of our staff throughout your degree, go on to secure careers working at the cutting edge of human rights issues in an impressive range of human rights organisations.


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Apply for a scholarship to Essex Law School

If you're an undergraduate student studying an LLB course and who is deaf, blind or a wheelchair user, or you are a Postgraduate student studying the LLM International Human Rights Law and are having financial difficulty, you can apply for the Ian James Evans scholarship which will cover or help toward your tuition fees.

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Why study at Essex?
  • Be taught by lecturers who are renowned experts in human rights and hold prestigious UN appointments
  • You can join our Human Rights Centre Clinic, which offers the chance to develop practical skills related to human rights and work with world-renowned human rights organisations.
  • We have an active Human Rights Society which hosts a comprehensive programme of events.


Undergraduate study

Why should you study an undergraduate degree in human rights at Essex?

In a world of conflict and uncertainty, you will learn how you can be the voice for those who need to be heard. You will learn how you can stand up and fight for those who cannot, and you will learn how to challenge, impact and change the way human rights are understood, both locally and around the globe.

After you have completed your degree, you will have developed the right skills to carve out an impressive career, and help shape the future of human rights. Whether it's working in journalism, charities, organisations such as the United Nations, or even becoming a human rights Historian, there is an enormous range of opportunities in a diverse range of industries for a human rights graduate.

Head to our careers page for more information and to read our compelling alumni stories.


Is an undergraduate degree in human rights for me?

Do any of the following statements apply to you?

  • You're curious as to how individuals, communities and governments approach human rights differently across the globe.
  • You have an analytical nose and are hungry to investigate the abuse of rights around the globe.

  • You want to fight for the human rights of the vulnerable, or those affected by discrimination, social divisions and inequality.

  • You're fascinated by the history of human rights and how it's developed throughout time.

  • You feel passionately that all beings should have freedom of thought and expression.
  • You're interested in the study of human rights in Latin America.
  • You're intrigued by how globalisation affects international relations and human rights.

  • You want to address the impact of politics and political events on domestic and international affairs.

  • You want to understand human rights from a political, sociological, philosophical, economic or historical perspective.

If you answered yes to one or more of the above, then your ideal course is waiting for you at Essex. The question is, are you ready to begin your journey in becoming one of the generations next human rights defenders?

Which course is your perfect fit?

  • LLB Law with Human Rights if you're interested in a career which combines both legal studies and human rights.
  • BA Global Studies with Human Rights if you're intrigued by how individuals, communities and governments approach human rights differently across the globe.
  • BA History with Human Rights if you're interested in exploring ideas of how human rights have developed throughout history.
  • BA Journalism with Human Rights if you'd like to develop your journalistic skills whilst exploring topics of human rights from war to immigration, on an international scale.
  • BA Philosophy with Human Rights for those who want to explore powerful practical ideas intertwined with ethics, religion, justice, freedom of thought and expression.
  • BA Politics with Human Rights if you have an interest in political events, forms of democracy, international and domestic political affairs and their effect on human rights.
  • BA Sociology with Human Rights if you're curious as to what have been the major achievements, setbacks, and challenges to the global human rights movement.

Exciting opportunities

We know that university should be more than just attending lectures (as important as they are). It's about the experience outside the classroom too. At Essex, we want to give you incredible opportunities that will challenge you, push you outside of your comfort zone, give you real-life experiences, and shape you into a world-class human rights graduate.

By taking advantage of these incredible opportunities, you can feel confident, and ready to embark on your next steps, whether that's going into further education, or starting an exhilarating career in human rights.

Here are some of these exciting opportunities we're talking about:

  • working on key human rights projects housed within our Human Rights Centre Clinic
  • networking at our student-run Law Society, Human Rights society, and Bar society, which provides legal advice to the Commonwealth Students’ Association (CSA)
  • volunteering at the Essex Law Clinic where you can work alongside practising solicitors to offer legal advice to real clients in the community
  • gaining commercial awareness at our Business and Legal Advice Clinic
  • being involved in mooting competitions to get a taste of the real experience, and develop your debating and communication skills
  • testing your mediation and negotiation skills in our Client Interviewing Competition
  • joining our Model United Nations society, Amnesty International society, Digital Libre society, and Liberty League which can improve your skills of argumentation, public speaking, negotiation and research. (There are lots of other societies you can get involved with too)
  • experiencing the benefits of having a peer mentor to guide you through your first year
  • taking advantage of networking opportunities throughout the year with visiting law firms
  • meet like-minded women with an interest in pursuing a legal career in our Women in Law society
  • join our South Asian Law Students Association and enjoy numerous social, cultural, and educational events throughout the year

There's a lot to decide when choosing where to study, but if you want to learn more about studying at Essex, we recommend chatting to some of our friendly students and staff who are keen to talk with you about all things Essex.


Chat to our students and staff

How do I apply?

Applying to Essex couldn't be easier or more straight forward. All the information you need to know about how to apply for your degree, entry requirements, what to include in your application, information for EU and international students and more can all be found on our dedicated webpage amongst a wealth of further resources to help get you started.


How to apply


Why should you study a Masters degree in human rights at Essex?

Our range of innovative and pioneering Human Rights Masters programmes are internationally recognised as among the best in the world.

  • You will benefit from a first-class education in both the theoretical foundations of human rights and the application of human rights within a complex, ever-shifting global environment.
  • You will get the opportunity to work on projects which focus on human rights in practice.
  • You are invited to take part in highly rewarding human rights competitions that provide invaluable practical experience on a wide range of issues.
  • You can choose from a variety of full-time and part-time courses which offer an extensive range of optional modules, allowing you to tailor your degree to your specific interests and learn from leading experts in their fields.
  • Unrivalled career prospects: The unique experience of having studied at Essex has allowed our Masters graduates to flourish once they complete their studies. Our graduates have gone on to have illustrious careers in a range of professional contexts from working for NGOs, governments, international human rights bodies, to academia and private practice.

  • And, we'll give you a loyalty discount of up to 33% on the tuition fee for your first year of postgraduate study at Essex, if you're one of our graduates, studied abroad with us, or have a spouse or partner studying here as a full-time international student paying overseas fees.

Should I study an LLM or MA course?

Learn about our LLM courses

Our LLM courses are appropriate if you have a specific interest in the legal protection of human rights or humanitarian law principles.

LLM International Human Rights Law if you want to develop an understanding of the promotion and protection of international law in a historical and philosophical context, and how it applies in situations including states of emergency or acute crises.

LLM Economic, Social and Cultural Rights for those interested in public policy making, and in achieving economic, social and cultural rights both domestically and internationally.

LLM International Humanitarian Law if you are passionate about addressing situations such as armed conflict and acute crises, and how these affect the lives of millions of people around the world.

Study an MA pathway to develop your human rights expertise

Our MA courses provide a first-class education in both the intellectual foundations of human rights and the application of human rights within a complex global environment.  

Our flag-ship MA course, MA Theory and Practice of Human Rights has been significantly refreshed so you now have the opportunity to complete the MA by opting for one of our four distinct pathways. These are generic pathways where you can choose from a list of optional modules spanning many academic disciplines. If you have a more specific interest in specialising in a distinct area of human rights, you can choose from the following pathways: human rights, global diversity and global challenges; human rights, social justice, and social change; and finally, human rights, gender, race, and identity.

Hear what the Director of the Human Rights Centre, Andrew Fagan has to say about these exciting pathways.

How do I apply?

We've made the process of applying for your Masters degree at Essex straightforward. You can apply for a course via our online portal. We'd also recommend you take a look at our dedicated webpage to find out everything you need to know before you apply, including entry requirements, information for international and EU students, our alumni loyalty discount scheme, advice on writing your personal statement, all necessary documents and a whole lot more.


How to apply
"Essex Law School has shaped my confidence and honed my analytical skills particularly in the field of human rights, to critically examine difficult human rights problems, which prepared me for both life and career. It provided me with both hard and soft skills so that I was even ready when practicing law."
Ricky Gunawan MA Theory and Practise of Human rights 2012

Postgraduate study

Why should you study your PhD at Essex?

Our PhD programmes draw upon the expertise of over 100 Human Rights Centre members from different academic disciplines and areas of human rights interest. You have the opportunity to be supervised by academic staff who offer an unrivalled range of expertise in the research and practice of human rights, covering an extensive number of research areas. Areas of expertise include the prohibition against torture, freedom of religion, children in armed conflict, methods of democratic assessment, and the relationship between human rights and foreign direct investment.

How to apply

You can apply through our online portal. Before you apply, we recommend you take a look at our dedicated webpage to find out all the information you need to have prepared. We encourage you to make a preliminary enquiry directly to a potential supervisor or our Graduate Administrator. To find a supervisor, use our research finder tool by entering your research interests and browsing through the search results.

Our research community encompasses internationally renowned scholars whose work ranges from research into the philosophical and normative bases of human rights, through to more practically-oriented interests in the legal, political and sociological application of human rights. Explore the exciting research which takes place in the Human Rights Centre.


Learn more about research degrees at Essex 


Doctoral research opportunities

Doctoral Affilliates Network

Our Doctoral Affiliates Network is a community of PhD students at the University of Essex, who are engaged in some related aspect of human rights research, and who wish to benefit from sharing ideas and research within a more multi and inter-disciplinary environment than would typically be possible within a single department or discipline.

Membership of the Network is open to any student studying a PhD at Essex. We welcome all postgraduate research students from any academic department or discipline. The Network meets regularly throughout the year. Events include the presentation and discussion of on-going research, career development seminars and workshops, as well as occasional social events.

Research Student's Conference

Each year we host a Postgraduate Research Students’ conference aimed at students working within the broad interdisciplinary field of human rights and social justice. The conference aims to stimulate research on contemporary human rights issues, problems, challenges and policies, and to facilitate the dissemination of such research.

Professional skills development

Our University’s Proficio scheme develops your skills and knowledge, and increases your employability potential for careers in academia and industry by providing funding for specialist training across a range of areas, including researching and managing your PhD, presenting your work and getting published. For example, each year we run the Essex Summer School in Human Rights Research Methods, and you can use your Proficio credit to participate in this course at a reduced cost.