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 business law, public law, criminal justice, health law, law and technology, socio-legal studies and human rights law. We are ranked in the top 100 Law Schools in the THE World University Rankings 2020 and we are top 20 in the UK for research excellence (REF 2014, mainstream universities, THE 2014).
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.
There are a range of fellowships and bursaries available for LLM study. Please see our Fees and Funding pages for more information.
This course is also available on a part-time basis.
We strongly encourage those without previous human rights experience undertake at least a one-month internship with an intergovernmental or non-governmental organisation in London, Geneva or elsewhere. We offer up to 10 bursaries a year to help LLM students wishing to undertake placements.
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.
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 successfully litigated cases before the European and Inter-American human rights systems that have shaped human rights jurisprudence.
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.
We also offer a range of opportunities for working with projects associated with our Human Rights Centre:
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:
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 Careers Services to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities. Take a look at our dedicated careers pages for Law and Human Rights.
A 2:2 honours degree or above, or international equivalent. While prior academic study or professional experience of law is desirable, it is not a requirement for admission. LLM students who have not previously studied Public International Law will take a one-term module on this topic..
We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.
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IELTS 6.5 overall with a minimum component score of 5.5, except 6.0 in writing.
Most of our courses combine compulsory and optional modules, giving you freedom to pursue your own interests. All of the modules listed below provide an example of what is on offer from the current academic year. Our Programme Specification provides further details of the course structure for the current academic year.
Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore to ensure your course is as relevant and up-to-date as possible your core module structure may be subject to change.
The example structure below is representative of this course if taken full-time. If you choose to study part-time, the modules will be split across 2 years
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
We hold Open Days for all our applicants throughout the year. Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex, and give you the chance to:
If the dates of our organised events aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.
We aim to respond to applications within two weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.
For information on our deadline to apply for this course, please see our ‘how to apply’ information.
You will need to provide a copy of your CV with your application.
Home to 15,000 students from more than 130 countries, our Colchester Campus is the largest of our three sites, making us one of the most internationally diverse campuses on the planet - we like to think of ourselves as the world in one place.
The Campus is set within 200 acres of beautiful parkland, located two miles from the historic town centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded town. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.
If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.
Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.
At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.
The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.
The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.
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