Human rights

Studying human rights at Essex will enable you to develop the skills and confidence to advocate for individual and community rights, social justice and social change.

Human rights

Undergraduate degrees

Human rights have no borders or boundaries. They are the global language of the world.

Our approach is interdisciplinary, with the theory and practice of human rights embedded in our work. Join our thriving community of expert staff, students and graduates who have genuine global impact in the field.  Our Human Rights Centre is internationally recognised for the breadth and depth of its research projects. Essex is one of only four universities with a memorandum of understanding with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), a development that recognises the breadth of education that Essex provides in relation to the protection of refugees.

Why study here?
  • Our lecturers are renowned experts in human rights and hold prestigious UN appointments.
  • Gain experience in the field through opportunities such as our Human Rights Clinic.
  • We have an active Human Rights Society which hosts a comprehensive programme of events.

Career prospects

Unsure of where a Human Rights degree may lead you? Our graduates have gone onto lead successful careers in organisations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, GirlPower and the European Network Against Racism. Find out more on our careers webpage.

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Postgraduate Masters degrees

Our courses are informed by our unique interdisciplinary perspective, which gives you a deep and critical knowledge of human rights and their practical application.

At Essex we are concerned with confronting and overcoming oppression and discrimination around the world. We enjoy a worldwide reputation for research, teaching and practice, and our pioneering staff have held prestigious positions within the UN and other international organisations. In his role as director of the Essex Armed Conflict and Crisis Hub, Professor Noam Lubell gave evidence to the House of Lords on the use of AI weaponry. Plus, Dr Marija Jovanovic’s recent report with the Bingham Centre has found cases of modern slave victims serving time in prisons for crimes they were forced to commit.

Our research projects

Essex Human Rights Centre offers the opportunity for students to get involved with various different research projects. The Human Rights Centre Clinic also runs projects as part of the Human Rights Centre Clinic Module (HU902), which is open to postgraduate human rights 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. For example, supporting litigation, advocacy, policy and programme development or technical guidance on human rights.

Why study here?
  • Our education offers many valuable opportunities to apply your human rights knowledge to the world beyond the classroom.
  • Join our Human Rights Clinic and develop your legal and transferrable skills to help you stand out from the crowd.
  • You join one of the largest and most effective human rights alumni networks in the world.
Book onto our Open Day

Book your place for one of our on-campus Open Days and we'll make sure you have all of the information you need to make the most out of your day.

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Research degrees

Our PhD programme draws upon the expertise of over 80 Human Rights Centre members from different academic disciplines.

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.


Expertise and supervision

We specialise in the application of theory to real human rights problems. Within Essex Law School our research has a particular focus on the right to health, civil and political rights; including the prohibition against torture and detention related issues, and the law of armed conflict and acute crises. To find out more about us read our biographies and then use our research finder to find a supervisor. Alternatively, search research finder for your interest as a supervisor may be from a different department but specialise in an area of human rights.

Doctoral Affiliates 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. 


Why study here?
  • Our Human Rights Centre has consistently produced cutting-edge academic and policy research.
  • You have the option of being supervised by Human Rights Centre members.
  • You can apply through us for one of over 375 fully-funded PhD studentships.

Start your application with us

Explore our Human Rights research by theme or your area of interest and find a supervisor that can support your through your studies. More information can be found about research degrees on our school pages. Our courses below will help guide you through the various research degree programmes we offer.

Explore funding opportunities Ready to apply? Start your application today
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Book your place for one of our on-campus Open Days and we'll make sure you have all of the information you need to make the most out of your day.

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We understand that deciding where and what to study is a very important decision for you. We'll make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities as described on our website. However, if we need to make material changes, for example due to significant disruption, or in response to COVID-19, we'll let our applicants and students know as soon as possible.