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MA Applied Human Rights

Learn to make voices heard through law, policy and human rights practice.

Year of entry: 2019

Length

1 year full-time,
2 years part-time

Start date

September 2019 (term dates)

Human rights defenders strive for a world in which human rights are respected, protected and fulfilled. 

Learn to bridge the gap between theory and practice by combining hands-on experience with interdisciplinary academic enquiry. Discover the theoretical frameworks and practical skills which make advances in human rights possible.

Study different aspects of human rights practice: the strategies employed and the debates, institutions and political structures that human rights defenders seek to influence. You'll learn directly from human rights defenders with first-hand experience in governmental, judicial, and grassroots roles.

Develop a range of fieldwork, advocacy and legal skills and apply these on a placement in the UK or South Africa.

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Each year we host human rights defenders at risk from around the world, providing a unique opportunity for you to learn from activists working in difficult environments.

Course content

Taught over one year, the MA will familiarise you with different aspects of activism. The Autumn Term introduces key theoretical and practical elements, cemented by applying your knowledge on a group placement with a human rights organisation.

In the Spring Term you'll explore international human rights law. You'll also choose two option modules, allowing you to focus your studies on an area aligned with your interests.

In the Summer Term, you'll start work on a dissertation of up to 12,000 words on a topic of your choice.

Fieldwork

Gaining direct experience of fieldwork is a key component of this course. You'll work with a partner organisation in Cape Town or York for several months, including a two-week placement at the end of your first term.

You and your group will forge a relationship with an organisation, to develop and deliver a project. This includes:

  • 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 Cape Town or York.
  • Follow-up: completing the project and disseminating outputs.

Projects with partners have included researching and writing human rights reports, training manuals, annual reports, funding proposals, policy briefs, and communications to the special procedures of the UN. 

Please note that the South Africa trip will only run if there are sufficient student numbers.

Modules

Core modules

Option modules

You will choose two option modules in the Spring Term.

Please note, modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.

Dissertation

Dissertation (60 credits)

During the Summer Term and over the summer vacation, you will work on a dissertation of up to 12,000 words. You can choose your own topic to investigate, but it should have a human rights focus.

Recent students' dissertations have examined:

  • Destitution and the asylum process
  • Peace, silence, and historical commemoration in Northern Ireland
  • How responsible are conservation organisations in the Democratic Republic of Congo for the discrimination and exclusion experienced by the Batwa?
  • How did the Truth and Reconciliation Commission influence the development of a human rights culture in South Africa?
  • Democratisation and human rights: The case study of Venezuela's progress and regress
  • Overcoming stigma: Applying whistleblowers' experience to human rights defenders
  • Homelessness and in/security in York, United Kingdom
  • St. Louis, Missouri: A city divided over black lives matter
  • The communication of human rights through collective art projects

Throughout the project, you will have the support of your dissertation supervisor. Where possible we'll allocate you someone who is familiar with your chosen topic. Dissertation training at the start of the Summer Term will help you to clarify your ideas and refine your methodological approach.

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. Find out more about our approach to teaching and learning.

Students who complete this course will be able to:

  • Analyse and evaluate human rights issues to develop informed, critical understanding of the ways in which social, political, economic and institutional interests shape human rights problems and responses.
  • Design 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 socio-legal data using appropriate research methods and analytical techniques to investigate complex contemporary human rights issues. 
  • 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 approaches and cultural sensitivity 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.
Having regular lectures and seminars coupled with this hands-on placement meant that our learning in the classroom was directly translated into practice. It taught me skills as varied as making participatory videos and using theatre in human rights, as well as leadership skills, team management and communication.
Jonny, MA in Applied Human Rights (2016)

Read about our students' experiences

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2019/20

Study modeUK/EUInternational
Full-time (1 year)£7,810£17,370
Part-time (2 years)
Fees for subsequent years are subject to confirmation.
£3,905
year 1 fee
£8,685
year 1 fee

Students on a Tier 4 Visa are not currently permitted to study part-time at York.

Additional costs

If you choose to undertake a placement in South Africa you will need to budget around £1,200 to £1,400, over and above MA tuition fees and living expenses. Placements in York do not incur additional costs, apart from potential limited local travel.

Fees information

UK/EU or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK/EU or international student.

Funding information

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

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

Home/EU students

International students

Centre for Applied Human Rights scholarships

We are offering one scholarship for the MA in Applied Human Rights in 2019/20. The value of the scholarship is £2,770. 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.

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. Find out more about our approach to teaching and learning.

Teaching format

You'll be taught using a variety of methods in a range of formats including:

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Directed reading
  • Simulation and role-play
  • Independent study

Our teaching staff have wide-ranging experience in both academic study and human rights practice. You'll be able to put your learning into practice on placement in South Africa or the UK.

Teaching location

The Centre for Applied Human Rights is based in the Research Centre for Social Sciences, on the west part of our campus.

You will spend two weeks on placement, either in Cape Town (South Africa) 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 through essays, group projects and reflective diaries. Your dissertation makes up a large proportion of your final mark.

We'll be looking for evidence of your ability to communicate across cultures, bearing in mind diverse cultural and political viewpoints. 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 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.

The Human Rights Defenders fellowship scheme at the Centre for Applied Human Rights has been amazing. In an academic setting we're so used to studying about issues that happen elsewhere, usually far away. The scheme brings that reality into the classroom.
Brittany, MA in Applied Human Rights (2012)

Read about our students' experiences

Careers and skills

Our graduates go on to work with NGOs, humanitarian and development organisations, policy think-tanks, national governments and UN agencies. We provide advice, networking opportunities, hands-on experience, and personalised reference letters to support you as you establish your career.

Career opportunities

Previous students have gone on to work in:

  • Government departments
    eg the Finnish Centre for Human Rights
  • Human rights organisations
    eg Freedom House, the Terrence Higgins Trust and the Afghanistan Human Rights and Democracy Organisation
  • Development and humanitarian organisations
    eg Norwegian People's Aid and Merlin
  • Inter-governmental agencies
    eg the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation in The Hague, the United Nations Development Programme in Bangladesh and the Quaker UN Office in Geneva
  • Research
    eg PhD study, think-tanks and research assistant roles
  • Business
    eg Ethical Trade Coordinator at New Look Retailers

Transferable skills

  • Intercultural communication
  • Ability to appreciate multiple points of view
  • Awareness of international current events
  • Argument and persuasion
  • Data collection and interpretation
  • Practical application of theoretical knowledge
  • Teamwork
  • Problem solving
  • Project management
  • Writing for diverse audiences

Our alumni

Find out more about our graduates' careers.

Alumni profiles

I was employed by International Alert, a peace building INGO, as a Project Senior Officer within three months of finishing my studies. My responsibilities include establishing a mechanism of mitigating tensions, in partnership with the local community in a multi-sectarian region on the border of the endless war in Syria.
Rony, MA in Applied Human Rights (2015)

Read about our students' experiences

Entry requirements

Qualification Typical offer
Degree

You should have, or be about to complete, an undergraduate degree at 2:1 (or equivalent). We will also consider a 2:2 with at least three years' relevant work experience.

English language

If English is not your first language, you may need to provide evidence of your ability. We accept the following qualifications:

  • IELTS: 6.5, with no less than 6.0 in each component
  • PTE: 61, with no less than 55 in each component
  • CAE and CPE (from January 2015): 176, with no less than 169 in each component
  • TOEFL: 87, with a minimum of 21 in each component
  • Trinity ISE: level 3 with Merit in all requirements

International applicants language requirements

Applying

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.

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Next steps

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Centre for Applied Human Rights

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