What will I learn?

The MA in Understanding and Securing Human Rights is the longest-running interdisciplinary, practice-orientated human rights master’s degree programme in the UK. It was established in collaboration with Amnesty International to provide scholarly and practical training for future human rights defenders. Located in Bloomsbury, the intellectual heart of London, it offers students easy access to world-class libraries and facilities, including Senate House Library, the British Library and the British Museum. The degree aims to develop students as human rights practitioners and to enable them to engage with the intellectual and philosophical foundations of human rights. All of our graduates are awarded a University of London degree. The course can be studied full time or part time.

A distance learning option is available, offering the MA, PGCert, and PGDip.

Degree overview

The degree brings together insights on human rights from a range of disciplines, including law, international relations and sociology. This unique interdisciplinary approach will provide you with an extensive and diverse range of perspectives with which to understand contemporary human rights challenges.

Offered by the Human Rights Consortium (HRC) at the School of Advanced Study, this programme is:

  • Intellectually rigorous, engaging with human rights debates at the forefront of scholarly research
  • Practice-orientated, exploring human rights issues from a practical, solution-based perspective as well as a scholarly one
  • Career-orientated, developing the next generation of human rights defenders, advocates and researchers through an emphasis on building practical skills, including campaigning, fundraising, and research—all of which are important for work in human rights advocacy
  • Cutting-edge, widening the frame of human rights debates by looking at emerging issues, such as the impact of environmental destruction on human rights

How will this course benefit me?

In addition to providing students with the practical skills essential to pursuing a career as human rights practitioners, this degree addresses essential questions and debates within the field of human rights, such as:

  • Where do rights come from?
  • What are the foundations of and justifications for human rights?
  • Can the discourse of rights secure social justice and equality?

Careers and further study

For alumni of the programme, the MA has been a crucial investment in their careers as human rights advocates, with many of them finding work shortly after graduating. In the competitive field of human rights, our MA is recognised by recruiters at NGOs for imparting the necessary practical skills that employees will need. You will benefit from being part of a network in which you will continue to find support after your studies end, through personal connections with staff and through our alumni network.

Our connections with people from a range of human rights organisations, who often deliver guest lectures, ensure that you will be introduced to key contacts throughout your degree, helping you to understand the opportunities in the field and develop networks essential to working in the humanitarian and non-governmental sectors.

Graduates of the MA in Human Rights have gone on to work for an impressive range of organisations, including Anti-Slavery International and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Which department am I in?

Institute of Commonwealth Studies, School of Advanced Study

Study options

Full Time (1 year)

Tuition fees
£15,420.00 (US$ 21,086) per year
PhD writing up fee: £900.

This is a fixed fee
Start date

Expected October 2022


Institute of Commonwealth Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London

2nd Floor, South Block,

Senate House, Malet Street,



WC1E 7HU, England

Entry requirements

For international students

The normal minimum academic entrance requirements for taught postgraduate programmes are an upper-second class honours degree from the United Kingdom or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. Applications from candidates who do not meet the formal academic requirements but who offer alternative qualifications and/or relevant experience, could be considered. Students need an IELTS 7.0 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component.

*There may be different IELTS requirements depending on your chosen course.


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