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LLM International Human Rights Law and Practice

Put the law to work in defence of human rights

Year of entry: 2022 (September)


1 year full-time,
2 years part-time

Start date

September 2022 (term dates)

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 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 whose research informs teaching and shapes international policy.
Watch video on YouTube
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.
Watch video on YouTube
Martin Jones discusses some of the challenges we are reflecting upon as scholars and practitioners of human rights law.
As an academic and practitioner (at the UN) in human rights, I can only congratulate the course team for putting together such an attractive package of learning and practice. It strikes me as very much a 'leading edge' programme in its area.
Patrick Thornberry CMG, Professor of International Law, Keele University, and Member, UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

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.

They give you flexibility to undertake research on issues you're passionate about. You'll have opportunities to write essays, produce presentations, develop advocacy campaigns and to undertake a human rights placement with an organisation that works on a topic of interest.

Option modules

Our range of option modules gives you the opportunity to tailor your programme and to explore areas where rights are being used in innovative ways. You'll choose option modules from a list that may include:

Our modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.
Our course structures are changing in September 2023. Find out more about how this course may be affected.


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

Your Research Skills for Dissertation Writing module will give you the specific training you need to succeed, and you'll also be guided 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 identify and define a project.
  • Fieldwork: two weeks intensive work in Kuala Lumpur or York.
  • Follow-up: completing the project and disseminating outputs.

Past projects have included:

  • Drafting a legal brief for women’s groups to obtain standing in proceedings affecting women’s rights in Malaysian courts;
  • Developing a policy framework and standard procedure for Malaysian local governments to combat trafficking;
  • Assessing whether a York-based international development organisation should resume its operations in Mali after conflict had subsided;
  • 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.

The Malaysia trip will only run if there are sufficient student numbers and will be reviewed in light of the COVID-19 pandemic .

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:

  • Apply a comprehensive understanding of the diverse ways in which social, political, economic and institutional interests shape human rights problems and responses, through the critical evaluation of human rights law
  • Retrieve and critically assess legal instruments, texts and socio-legal data using appropriate research methods and analytical techniques to investigate complex contemporary human rights issues
  • Design specialised legal advocacy to enhance the implementation of human rights by applying an advanced knowledge of UN, regional and domestic law and policy-making processes
  • Engage with debates at global, regional, national, and local levels, communicating ideas effectively and in different formats to peers, policy actors, scholars, lawyers and human rights defenders across a range of professional settings
  • Apply collaborative, participatory and culturally sensitive approaches to problem-solving in complex and unpredictable circumstances and to the shaping of human rights interventions
  • Critically reflect on theoretical approaches to complex challenges in diverse contexts, evaluating their value and effectiveness for human rights promotion and protection
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. I thoroughly enjoyed the modules and would recommend the course as a whole to anyone looking to study human rights.
Alice, LLM International Human Rights Law and Practice

Read about our students' experiences

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2022/23

Study modeUK (home)International and EU
Full-time (1 year) £9,290£19,950
Part-time (2 years)
This is the year 1 fee. Fees for future years are subject to confirmation.

Students on a Student Visa (formerly Tier 4 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. Fees for subsequent years are subject to increase (no more than 2% each year).

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 Malaysia you will need to budget around £1,200 to £1,400, 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 2022/23 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

We expect to be able to offer one scholarship for the LLM International Human Rights Law and Practice in 2021/22. The scholarship is only open to UK/EU applicants 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.

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.

The Centre for Applied Human Rights and North Yorkshire Police are partner organisations in furthering the cause behind the York Human Rights City project. What could be more rewarding for a police officer than to have a placement with another police force abroad. This exposure has stimulated me to appreciate how human rights are embedded into day to day affairs of policing in the UK.
Kashif, LLM International Human Rights Law and Practice

Read about our students' experiences

University of the Year shortlisted

“York is everything an outstanding university should be”

Find out how we made the shortlist for University of the Year in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022.

Our University of the Year nomination

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 or Kuala Lumpur
  • Simulation and role-play
  • Independent study and group work

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 Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) 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.

All the professors were really helpful, and really ready to share all their knowledge and experience. The Centre for Applied Human Rights provides a spirit and energy that motivates you to think more passionately about human rights.
Marina, LLM International Human Rights Law and Practice

Read about our students' experiences

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

I was a solicitor in the UK, litigating social welfare and other human rights issues, and wanted to transition into international human rights work. The Centre's LLM was my first choice because of its 'applied' focus and the opportunity to do field-based research with a Malaysian NGO. The LLM equipped me with the skills and confidence needed to refocus my career.
John, LLM International Human Rights Law and Practice

Read about our students' experiences

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 7.0, minimum 7.0 in Writing and 6.5 in all other components
C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency 185, minimum 185 in Writing and 176 in all other components
Duolingo 120, minimum 120 in Production and 110 in all other components
LanguageCert C1 Expert High Pass with 33/50 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've not 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 electronically through our online system. You don’t need to complete your application all at once: you can start it, save it and finish it later.

Apply for this course

Next steps

Contact us

Get in touch if you have any questions

Dr Ioana Cismas <br> (Co-programme Leader)
Melanie Race-Mellin <br> Postgraduate Administrator, York Law School

Learn more

Centre for Applied Human Rights, York Law School

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