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LLM International Human Rights Law and Practice

Put the law to work in defence of human rights

Year of entry: 2024 (September)


1 year full-time,
2 years part-time

Start date

September 2024 (semester dates)

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Human rights abuses still occur, despite growing numbers of international treaties and organisations dedicated to their eradication. The LLM in International Human Rights Law and Practice engages you in a critical, nuanced and interdisciplinary examination of this paradox.

You'll learn about issues central to the work of human rights scholars and practitioners including states and non-state actors as perpetrators and duty-bearers; standard-setting versus implementation; and the interaction between law, policy and advocacy at local, regional and global levels. Whether you are a mid-career professional or recent graduate, our LLM enables you to acquire the substantive knowledge, versatile skills and valuable networks necessary to work in the human rights field.

The LLM International Human Rights Law and Practice is distinctive because you will:

  • work on real human rights issues in partnership with international and local NGOs, UN mechanisms or governmental bodies;
  • undertake fieldwork in Colombia, South Afria or York and acquire valuable socio-legal skills;
  • learn from the experiences of human rights defenders based at the Centre for Applied Human Rights and from the interactions with an international student body;
  • benefit from the interdisciplinary expertise of staff at the Centre for Applied Human Rights and York Law School including the current UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, Tomoya Obokata.
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The Centre for Applied Human Rights (CAHR) hosts an innovative Protective Fellowship Scheme for Human Rights Defenders at Risk. Up to ten defenders are able to come to York to benefit from time away from a difficult environment, and from educational resources designed to increase their effectiveness and ability to influence policy and practice when they return home.
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Our CAHR Human Rights Video Newsletter provides further insight into our community and the range of opportunities available.

Human Rights City

York is the UK's first Human Rights City, championing a vibrant, diverse, fair and safe environment

Course content

The LLM aims to familiarise you with three key aspects of human rights activism; law, policy and advocacy. You'll learn to:

  • critically examine international and regional human rights treaties
  • assess the work of monitoring and adjudication bodies
  • analyse how political and social context shape international instruments, domestic legislation and policy
  • develop advocacy strategies to address these issues

You'll have the opportunity to work on a human rights project in partnership with local and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs), United Nations mechanisms or governmental bodies. 


Core modules

Our core modules enable you to acquire holistic knowledge and the socio-legal skills you need for a successful career in human rights practice, or progression to PhD study.

You'll have opportunities to join the Human Rights Defense Clinic, write essays and a moot written submission, produce presentations and hold moot oral arguments, prepare advocacy campaigns and submissions to international human rights bodies, as well as undertake a human rights placement in Colombia, South Africa or York with an organisation that works on a topic of interest.

Option modules

You will also study two option modules. In previous years, options have covered topics such as:

The options available to you will be confirmed after you begin your course. For further information please get in touch.

Our modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff, and in line with Department/School academic planning.


During the Summer Terms, you will work on a dissertation of up to 12,000 words on a topic of your choice.

You will receive specific dissertation training and will be guided through your dissertation journey by an academic supervisor. The dissertation is due for submission in mid-September.

The dissertation is a substantive piece of academic work and the culmination of your studies. It's often possible to align your dissertation with an organisation you've worked with, ensuring it has immediate relevance and impact. As part of their dissertation research, many of our students choose to undertake fieldwork and collect primary data, drawing on the theoretical knowledge and practical skills which they have developed on the LLM. The dissertation can be the springboard to progressing to PhD studies.

Previous students' dissertations have investigated:

  • The Universal Periodic Review and interstate shaming, providing an analysis of the impact of relational politics on Bahrain’s UPR outcomes.
  • Female genital mutilation in exile: attitudes towards FGM among the Somali diaspora in Leeds.
  • Guarantees of non-recurrence and gender-based violence: a case study of Tunisia.
  • Lawyering for change: a case-study of advancing refugee protection in Thailand.
  • Internet activism and the strife for environmental rights, examining citizens’ collective action on social media when facing air pollution problems in China.
  • Art as a means to improve the social construction of disability and the realisation of disability rights' in the UK.

York Law School and CAHR recognise the hard work and celebrate the academic achievements of our students by offering a Best Written Dissertation Award and Best Overall Student Prize.


You and your group will forge a relationship with an organisation to develop and deliver a project. The experience mirrors a classic human rights mission, requiring the following elements:

  • Preparation: extensive background research on country context, the host organisation and relevant thematic issues to scope and define the project.
  • Fieldwork: two weeks intensive fieldwork that may involve qualitative or quantitative data-collection in York, abroad (Colombia or South Africa) or online.
  • Writing and follow-up: writing up the analysis, completing the output and participating in dissemination.

Past projects have included:

  • Drafting a legal brief for women’s groups to obtain standing in proceedings affecting women’s rights in Malaysian courts;
  • The Use of Technology in Facilitating and Preventing Contemporary Forms of Slavery;
  • The Blue Badge Test in York: Can the realisation of disabled people’s rights and the prevention of terrorism be reconciled?;
  • Developing human rights indicators for the York: Human Rights City;
  • Designing a user-friendly version of the thematic report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders from York.

Every year, CAHR presents the Sam Pegram Human Rights Placement Award to the group which produced an output that best demonstrates a commitment to reflexive human rights practice and which seeks to centre the needs and voices of those involved in the struggle for human rights.

The fieldwork trips abroad will only run if there are sufficient student numbers.


The York approach

Every course at York is built on a distinctive set of learning outcomes. These will give you a clear understanding of what you will be able to accomplish at the end of the course and help you explain what you can offer employers. Our academics identify the knowledge, skills, and experiences you'll need upon graduation and then design the course to get you there.

Students who complete this course will be able to:

  • Analyse and evaluate human rights law to develop informed, critical understanding of the ways in which social, political, economic and institutional interests shape human rights.
  • Design legal human rights advocacy to enhance the implementation of human rights practice by drawing on an understanding of UN, regional, and state policy-making processes.
  • Retrieve and critically assess legal texts and socio-legal data using appropriate research methods and analytical techniques to investigate complex contemporary human rights.
  • Engage with debates at global, national, and local levels, communicating ideas effectively and in different formats to peers, policy actors, lawyers and human rights defenders across a range of professional settings.
  • Apply the values of collaborative, participatory and cultural sensitivity approaches to problem-solving and the shaping of human rights interventions.
  • Engage in continual reflective practice by exploring different approaches and theories to particular challenges and critically reflecting on their value and effectiveness in diverse contexts.
I cannot overestimate the value of the placement; my experiences were immensely rewarding and incredibly interesting. Throughout the entirety of the process, I have continued to expand my understanding of human rights and their practice in a wide variety of contexts.
Alice, LLM International Human Rights Law and Practice

Read about our students' experiences

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2024/25

Study modeUK (home)International and EU
Full-time (1 year) £10,590£23,900
Part-time (2 years)
This is the year 1 fee. Fees for future years are subject to confirmation.

Students on a Student Visa are not currently permitted to study part-time at York.

For courses which are longer than one year, the tuition fees quoted are for the first year of study.

  • UK (home) fees may increase in subsequent years (up to a maximum of 2%).
  • International fees may increase in subsequent years in line with the prevailing Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation rate (up to a maximum of 10%).

Fees information

UK (home) or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK (home) or international student. Check your fee status.

Find out more information about tuition fees and how to pay them.

Additional costs

If you choose to undertake a placement in Colombia or South Africa you will need to budget around £1,400 to £1,600, over and above tuition fees and living expenses. Placements in York do not incur additional costs, apart from potential limited local travel.

Funding information

Discover your funding options to help with tuition fees and living costs.

We'll confirm more funding opportunities for students joining us in 2024/25 throughout the year.

If you've successfully completed an undergraduate degree at York you could be eligible for a 10% Masters fee discount.

Funding opportunities

Centre for Applied Human Rights scholarship

Every year CAHR offers one scholarship for the LLM in International Human Rights Law and Practice. The scholarship is only open to students who qualify for UK (home) fees who have received a conditional or unconditional offer for full-time study.

Chevening Scholarships

Awarded by British embassies and high commissions, Chevening Scholarships provide one year of fully-funded postgraduate study in the UK. They are offered to early and mid-career professionals with the potential to become future leaders. We have hosted 34 Chevening Scholars in the past five years and welcome further enquiries and applications.

Sam Pegram Scholarship

The Sam Pegram Scholarship provides full tuition fee waiver, travel, accommodation and living costs for a student studying International Human Rights Law and Practice with a specific interest in migration issues.

Living costs

You can use our living costs guide to help plan your budget. It covers additional costs that are not included in your tuition fee such as expenses for accommodation and study materials.

Teaching and assessment

You’ll work with world‐leading academics who’ll challenge you to think independently and excel in all that you do. Our approach to teaching will provide you with the knowledge, opportunities, and support you need to grow and succeed in a global workplace.

Teaching format

You will be taught by academics and experienced practitioners in a range of innovative and interactive formats, including:

  • Lectures and guest lectures by renowned practitioners
  • Interactive seminars and workshops
  • Directed reading
  • Fieldwork in York, Bogotá (Colombia) or Cape Town (South Africa)
  • Simulation and role-play
  • Independent study and group work
  • Human rights clinical activities, including advocacy interventions and submissions to international human rights bodies.

Teaching location

Most of the teaching activities will take place at the Centre for Applied Human Rights and York Law School. The Centre is based in the Research Centre for Social Sciences on Campus West and York Law School is located in the Law and Management Building on Campus East. In addition, you will spend two weeks undertaking fieldwork, either in Bogotá (Colombia), in Cape Town (South Africa), online or in and around York (UK).

About our campus

Our beautiful green campus offers a student-friendly setting in which to live and study, within easy reach of the action in the city centre. It's easy to get around campus - everything is within walking or pedalling distance, or you can always use the fast and frequent bus service.

Assessment and feedback

You'll be assessed on work including essays, moot written submissions, legal advocacy campaigns, reflective diaries, presentations and your dissertation.

We'll be looking for evidence of your ability to interpret international human rights law and use compelling socio-legal arguments to identify and challenge human rights violations. You should be able to speak knowledgeably about unfolding international events to a range of audiences, and collect and interpret qualitative data to support your arguments.

As well as your assessed work you'll be given formative assignments which don't count towards your final grade. The feedback you receive for this work will help you develop your skills and identify areas for improvement.

Careers and skills

We provide career advice, networking opportunities, hands-on experience and personalised reference letters to help you find good jobs with human rights NGOs, humanitarian and development organisations, policy think-tanks, national governments, and UN agencies.

Career opportunities

  • Community engagement manager
  • Associate for an NGO
  • Civil Servant for the Diplomatic Service 
  • Legal researcher
  • Solicitor 
  • Rule of law adviser 

Transferable skills

  • Communication: Argumentation and persuasion skills; Advocacy skills.
  • Collaboration: Teamwork; Project management
  • Analysis: Awareness of international current events; Data collection and interpretation; Practical application of theoretical knowledge; Critical thinking; Problem solving
  • Reflection and self-reflection: Ability to appreciate multiple points of view; Analysis and thought about the self and the social, political and economic environment

Find out more about our graduates' careers:

Alumni profiles

Entry requirements

Typical offer
Undergraduate degree 2:1 or equivalent. We will also consider a 2:2 with at least three years' relevant work experience. Some academic study or practical experience of law is desirable, but not required.
International pre-masters programme Pre-masters from our International Pathway College
Other international qualifications Equivalent qualifications from your country

English language

If English isn't your first language you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability. We accept the following qualifications:

Minimum requirement
IELTS (Academic and Indicator) 7.0, minimum 7.0 in Writing and 6.5 in all other components
Cambridge CEFR C1 Advanced: 185, with a minimum of 185 in Writing and no less than 176 in all other components
Oxford ELLT 8, minimum of 8 in writing and no less than 7 in all other components
Duolingo 130, minimum 130 in Production and 120 in all other components
LanguageCert SELT C1 with 33/50 in each component
LanguageCert Academic 75 with a minimum of 75 in Writing and no less than 70 in all other components
KITE 495-526, with 495-526 in writing and 459-494 in all other components
Skills for English C1: Pass overall, with Pass in each component
PTE Academic 67, minimum 67 in Writing and 61 in all other components
TOEFL 96 minimum 24 in Writing and 23 in all other components
Trinity ISE III Distinction in all components

For more information see our postgraduate English language requirements.

If you haven't met our English language requirements

You may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English language courses. These courses will provide you with the level of English needed to meet the conditions of your offer.

The length of course you need to take depends on your current English language test scores and how much you need to improve to reach our English language requirements.

After you've accepted your offer to study at York, we'll confirm which pre-sessional course you should apply to via You@York.


You can apply and send all your documentation online. You don’t need to complete your application all at once: you can start it, save it and finish it later.

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Next steps

Contact us

Get in touch if you have any questions

Dr Piergiuseppe Parisi (Joint Programme Leader)
Dr Mattia Pinto (Joint Programme Leader)

Learn more

Centre for Applied Human Rights, York Law School

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