2020 applicants
Postgraduate Course

LLM International Human Rights Law

LLM International Human Rights Law

Overview

The details
International Human Rights Law
October 2021
Full-time
1 year
Colchester Campus
Law (School of)

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.

Placement Opportunities

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.

Why we're great.
  • This is one of best-established human rights law courses in Europe with a great reputation
  • Essex has a large and ever-growing network for human rights alumni working in international organisations, national governments, and NGOs around the world.
  • Work on real-life projects with our Human Rights Clinic
THE Awards 2018 - Winner University of the Year

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 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.

Specialist facilities

  • 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
  • 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:

Your future

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 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.

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

A 2:2 honours degree, or international equivalent, in a Social Science, Law or any Humanities subject.

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.

International & EU entry requirements

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.

Sorry, the entry requirements for the country that you have selected are not available here. Please select your country page where you'll find this information.

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.

Additional Notes

The University uses academic selection criteria to determine an applicant’s ability to successfully complete a course at the University of Essex. Where appropriate, we may ask for specific information relating to previous modules studied or work experience.

Structure

Example structure

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

Dissertation: LLM International Human Rights Law

You’ll undertake a dissertation of between 15,000-20,000 words in length for your LLM International Human Rights Law course. This is a compulsory element of the course.

View Dissertation: LLM International Human Rights Law on our Module Directory

International Human Rights Law: Law and Practice

What are the contemporary issues within international human rights law? How does the UN promote and protect human rights? Gain a critical and contextual introduction to international human rights law. Build your analytical skills in relation to the subject. Discuss current issues and events in group work.

View International Human Rights Law: Law and Practice on our Module Directory

European Union Law and Human Rights

What impact does EU law have on human rights? What are the human rights aspects of EU rules for asylum and immigration? Examine the agreement on EU accession to the European Convention on Human Rights. Understand the scope and content of the EU’s own Charter of Fundamental Rights.

View European Union Law and Human Rights on our Module Directory

Acute Crises and Displacement

Most displaced persons in the world are part of a mass displacement that may or may not cross an international border which has important consequences for the legal framework of protection. In this module you will look at the protection offered by international law to those displaced in time of acute crisis.

View Acute Crises and Displacement on our Module Directory

Religion and Human Rights

How do Islamic legal traditions impact on international human rights discourse? And on Muslim state practice? Study the debates surrounding Islam and universal human rights. Examine the diversity of perspectives surrounding human rights in Islamic thought and practice. Develop the tools for cross-cultural understanding and engagement.

View Religion and Human Rights on our Module Directory

Human Rights, International Relations and Diplomacy

How does the international system enhance the advancement of human rights? And how does it constrain it? Study the international system and its influence on human rights. Examine the role of foreign policy instruments in promoting human rights. Analyse how human rights can advance foreign policy goals by states.

View Human Rights, International Relations and Diplomacy on our Module Directory

International Criminal Law

How does international criminal law deal with terrorism? Or with genocide and crimes against humanity? What role does the International Criminal Court play? Study international criminal law and the principles of jurisdiction. Analyse the idea of state criminal responsibility. Build knowledge of human rights in relation to international criminal law.

View International Criminal Law on our Module Directory

Language Rights

From a human rights perspective, what kinds of conflicts occur around languages? Are there linguistic human rights? What are they? How do governments, lawmakers, schools, courts and international organisations identify and treat language problems? Can language planners and policymakers address conflicts involving indigenous peoples, national minorities, ethnic or racial groups?

View Language Rights on our Module Directory

Public International Law

What does it mean to be an international lawyer? Understand the founding principles of international laws. Apply the tools and techniques of legal reasoning to the international system. Understand how the system of international law works and form your own views through discussion of contemporary issues.

View Public International Law on our Module Directory

The Protection of Refugees and Displaced Persons in International Law

What protection does international law offer refugees and internally displaced persons? Examine legal definitions of refugee status. Understand the guarantees provided for such groups by international human rights law. Evaluate the limitations of such laws by states in Europe and North America.

View The Protection of Refugees and Displaced Persons in International Law on our Module Directory

European Convention on Human Rights I

What are the achievements of the European Convention on Human Rights? What are the challenges that it now faces? And the constraints? Examine the history of the Convention. Explore how the focus and methodology of the Court is now changing. Address the key states of the litigation of a case.

View European Convention on Human Rights I on our Module Directory

The Protection of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples in International Law

You’ll look at how minorities and indigenous peoples are protected in international human rights law by considering the rights that have been established, the jurisprudence that has been developed and the mechanisms for implementation. You’ll receive the opportunity to reflect on the contrasting regimes that focus on the individual rights accorded members of minorities and the collective rights recognised for indigenous peoples. You’ll study the contemporary challenges relating to political participation, conflict, development, climate change and other matters that affect minorities and indigenous peoples.

View The Protection of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples in International Law on our Module Directory

Human Rights and Development

What does right to development mean? How does it relate to human rights treaties? What is a human rights-based approach to development? Study international human rights law, exploring theoretical and practical implications of linking human rights and development. Analyse specific human rights themes. Evaluate the role of governments and organisations.

View Human Rights and Development on our Module Directory

Investment, Environment and Human Rights

What are the global standards set by the GATT/World Trade Organisation? And by World Bank policies? Examine relationships between human rights, international trade and foreign investment. Study legal issues, plus ethical, political and economic arguments on current topics. Evaluate cases to see the practical effect of linking trade and rights.

View Investment, Environment and Human Rights on our Module Directory

Human Rights and Women

You’ll receive an introduction to the protection and promotion of women’s and girls’ human rights under international law. Your focus will be on the universal human rights mechanisms, with some analysis of regional human rights mechanisms, especially relating to violence against women. You’ll consider sexual and reproductive rights, economic, social and cultural rights, administration of justice, women’s rights in conflict and post-conflict, and violence against women. You’ll also look at the persistence of gender stereotyping, theories of equality and discrimination, and the efforts of human rights defenders.

View Human Rights and Women on our Module Directory

Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in Africa

In this module you’ll critically examine the promotion and protection of human rights from the perspective of African political and human rights institutions. Topics you’ll cover include: human rights in Africa; the Organisation of African Unity and African Union; the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights; other African human rights treaties; African states within the UN; domestic protection of human rights; and women's rights.

View Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in Africa on our Module Directory

The Inter-American System of Human Rights

In this module you’ll study the work carried out by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court, which are usually referred to as the two bodies of the Inter-American System. In particular you’ll study the rights to life, humane treatment, personal liberty, fair trial, judicial guarantees, indigenous rights, violence against women, non-discrimination and equality, socio-economic rights, and the right to reparation. Films and guest speakers will enhance your understanding of the achievements, challenges and impact of the System.

View The Inter-American System of Human Rights on our Module Directory

Business and Human Rights

What are the human rights responsibilities of private companies? And what about public or private institutions financing projects aimed at world development? Evaluate principles regulating human rights and examine how they contrast with principles regulating multinational commercial interests. Consider real-life cases from both national and international courts.

View Business and Human Rights on our Module Directory

Transitional Justice

Broadly speaking transitional justice refers to the belief that any State where mass atrocities have taken place should engage with a set of judicial and non-judicial processes in order to achieve a successful transition from conflict to peace or repression to democracy. You’ll receive an overview of the history, theory, legal background and dilemmas of transitional justice, followed by in-depth discussions of the four pillars of transitional justice – truth, justice, reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence, and of their interrelatedness.

View Transitional Justice on our Module Directory

Human Rights Clinic

Want to work as a human rights professional? Using the UN human rights mechanisms, learn the essential skills to become a human rights practitioner. Apply this knowledge practically through engagement with projects by our Human Rights Centre Clinic.

View Human Rights Clinic on our Module Directory

The Morality and Politics of International Human Rights

Until very recently, it was frequently claimed that human rights were the dominant moral instruments for regulating global politics and law. Indeed, many went so far as to claim that we were living in an age of human rights. Is this still true today? Human rights are increasingly challenged from a variety of perspectives. Indeed, an increasing number of people describe the global human rights project to be in a state of real crisis. With human rights increasingly challenged, it is vitally important that we are able to understand the basis and extent of this challenge, in order to overcome the challenge. This module provides an opportunity to do just that. We will situate the theory and the practice of human rights within the broader moral and political contexts within which contemporary human rights unfolds. We will also connect theory with practice in order to examine key spheres in which the challenge to human rights occurs.

View The Morality and Politics of International Human Rights on our Module Directory

International Law of Armed Conflict

How can international law protect vulnerable groups during times of armed conflict? And can it be improved? Build knowledge of international law by examining the rules and legal classifications of armed conflict. Evaluate how international law tries to prevent and punish violations. Gain practical experience by studying real-life examples.

View International Law of Armed Conflict on our Module Directory

Current Challenges in the Law of Armed Conflict

How do you protect the environment during armed conflict? What role does the media play in conflict situations? What are the implications of asymmetric warfare? Undertake in-depth analysis of problems associated with armed conflict. Examine real-life issues that interest you, to see how different laws, institutions and competing interests combine.

View Current Challenges in the Law of Armed Conflict on our Module Directory

Conflict and the UN: Law Relating to the Use of Force, Peacekeeping, Sanctions & Counter Terrorism

How does public international law apply to peace and field operations? What about international human rights law? Or the international law of armed conflict? Understand the institutional law of the United Nations. Examine foundational legal aspects of peace operations, as well as key unresolved legal issues.

View Conflict and the UN: Law Relating to the Use of Force, Peacekeeping, Sanctions & Counter Terrorism on our Module Directory

Teaching

  • Mainly taught through seminars, supplemented by lectures where appropriate
  • Small group teaching
  • Postgraduates are welcome to participate in and present their work at our popular School Seminar Series

Assessment

  • Virtually all your modules are assessed by a combination of essays, take-home examinations or 100% coursework

Dissertation

  • Your dissertation is normally approximately 12,000 words in length
  • It is an opportunity for one-on-one supervision with one of our many human rights experts
  • A compulsory component of our LLM courses
  • Supervision and guidance is given

Fees and funding

Home/UK fee

£8,760

International fee

£18,800

EU students commencing their course in the 2021-22 academic year will be liable for the International fee.

Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

What's next

Open Days

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:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
  • meet our students and staff

If the dates of our organised events aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing tours@essex.ac.uk and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

Applying

You can apply for this postgraduate course online. Before you apply, please check our information about necessary documents that we’ll ask you to provide as part of your application.

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.

Colchester Campus

Visit Colchester Campus

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.

 

Virtual tours

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.

Exhibitions

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.


Find out more

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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