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Human Rights Placement - LAW00066M

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  • Department: The York Law School
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Ioana Cismas
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25

Module summary

The module provides students with an opportunity to put into practice their understanding of international human rights law and advocacy through group-based project placements with partner organisations, in particular human rights non-governmental organisations in the UK, South Africa, or Colombia. This is co-requisite module with ‘The Practice of Fieldwork’. This is a core module for the LLM in International Human Rights Law and Practice. The placements will take place in Weeks 9 and 10 of Semester 1.

Professional requirements


Related modules

Pre-requisite modules

  • None

Prohibited combinations

  • None

Additional information

In Applying International Human Rights Law (LAW00007M), you will become familiar with international human rights law and mechanisms and legal research methods. The Practice of Fieldwork (POL00016M) module will equip you with theoretical knowledge on how to conduct primary qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis, work effectively in groups, and manage projects. Complementing these two modules, the Human Rights Placement aims to provide you with a structured opportunity to put the gained knowledge into practice: you will work in small groups, supervised by an academic, and in partnership with an organisation on a ‘real-life’, applied human rights project. 

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

The Human Rights Placement module is a cornerstone of the LLM in International Human Rights Law and Practice. It provides students with the opportunity to apply and gain new knowledge, skills and abilities required for a career in human rights practice. Working in small groups, and supervised by an academic, you will develop and implement a human rights project in partnership with non-, inter- or governmental organisations. As part of your project, you will conduct two weeks of fieldwork, collecting primary data through qualitative or quantitative methods. The fieldwork will take place in York (UK), Cape Town (South Africa), Bogota (Colombia), or online with research participants based around the world.

You will gain invaluable insights into some of the political, logistical, ethical, and methodological constraints, challenges, and opportunities that human rights actors face on the ground. You are encouraged to reflect on the theoretical content of the LLM, and critically evaluate this against your experience on the ground.

Module learning outcomes

Subject content - At the end of the module, students should:

  • Be able to critically reflect on the political, logistical, ethical, and methodological complexities of conducting a project related to human rights;
  • Be able to comprehensively explain the political, social, and economic challenges related to human rights practice;
  • Be able to convey a comprehensive and in-depth knowledge of a human rights case study

Academic and graduate skills - At the end of the module, students should:

  • Be able to conduct safe, ethical, and effective primary research in the field;
  • Be able to engage in critical and reflective practice and exercise reflexivity;
  • Be able to think critically about complex subjects;
  • Be able to communicate effectively in both verbal and written forms;
  • Be able to present complex concepts and topics confidently;
  • Be able to work effectively in teams by acknowledging competing approaches and the value and challenges of collaborative and participatory approaches to problem-solving.


Task Length % of module mark
Project Output 9000 words
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Effective group work is a learning outcome of this module, and the module is key to meeting our LLM's programme learning outcome ("PLO 5: Work effectively in teams by acknowledging competing interpretations of human rights law and legal issues, and by recognising the value of collaborative and participatory approaches to problem-solving and the shaping of human rights interventions.")

Working in groups and the management of larger team-based projects are important skills to develop for students seeking to pursue careers in human rights. The co-requisite module The Practice of Fieldwork, provides students with an opportunity to gain theoretical knowledge and problematise group work and organisational dynamics. It also integrates exercises for strengthening group work. On the Human Rights Placement group work and wellbeing are central features, which we seek to support by providing students with academic resources, developing a practical code of conduct, and monitoring and reflecting on group dynamics as part of group supervision meetings and workshops.


Task Length % of module mark
Project Output 9000 words
N/A 100

Module feedback

Feedback and formative assessment have a developmental purpose and are designed to help students learn more effectively by providing them guidance and advice on their performance and on how it can be improved and/or maintained. In this module, feedback will be provided:

  • In workshops and group supervision meetings through comments by fellow students and academic supervisor;
  • In meetings with the project partner through comments on your research progress on the project;
  • Through written and oral feedback by your supervisor (within a week from submission) and project partner on a draft of the project output (formative assessment).

You will have the opportunity to discuss the feedback on the draft and final project output during the module tutors' feedback and guidance hours.

Indicative reading

Indicative readings for students in preparation for the Human Rights Placement:

Finlay, L. (2002) “Outing” the Researcher: The Provenance, Process, and Practice of Reflexivity, Qualitative Health Research, 12(4); 531-545.

Front Line Defenders, Workbook on Security: Practical Steps for Human Rights Defenders at Risk. Dublin: Front Line, Available at:

Gosling, L. and M. Edwards (2003) Toolkits: A Practical Guide to Planning, Monitoring, Evaluation, and Impact Assessment, 2nd ed., Save the Children.

Mertus, J. (2009) Maintenance of Personal Security: Ethical and Operational Issues. In C. Sriram et al. (eds.) Surviving Field Research: Working in Violent and Difficult Situations. London: Routledge, pp. 165-176.

O’Flaherty, M. and Ulrich, G. (2010) The Professional Identity and Development of Human Rights Field Officers. In M. O’Flaherty and G. Ulrich (eds.) The Professional Identity of the Human Rights Field Officer, Surrey: Ashgate, pp. 7-32.

Wenger, E. (2011) Communities of Practice: A Brief Introduction, STEP Leadership Workshop University of Oregon, available at

West, M.A. (2012) Effective Teamwork: Practical Lessons from Organizational Research, 3rd ed., Chichester: John Wiley & Sons. pp. 172-198.

Wheelan, S.A. (2013) Creating Effective Teams: A Guide for Members and Leaders, London: Sage Publications, pp. 58-67.

NB: The majority of readings in the module will be developed in relation to specific projects.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.