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Birkbeck, University of London: Human Rights

Institution Birkbeck, University of London View institution profile
Department Law
Telephone 0203 907 0700
Study type Taught


What are ‘human rights’ and where do they come from? Are human rights effectively protected by national and international reporting and judicial mechanisms? Are human rights NGOs and campaigners accountable and legitimate? These are just some of the questions you will consider on our LLM/MA Human Rights.

This LLM/MA Human Rights course focuses on your critical engagement with the theory and practice of human rights, as a highly contested ideology and as an increasingly complex set of national and international laws and institutional mechanisms.

You will study human rights in their legal, political, sociological, anthropological and philosophical contexts. You will explore topics including:

  • the historical and philosophical development of modern human rights

  • theoretical and practical critiques of the human rights system

  • the relationship between human rights and equality law

  • the relationship between race, migration and colonialism

  • gender violence

  • the global war on drugs

  • contemporary issues in asylum and other public international law areas.

You will also have the opportunity to work on a live case at the European Court of Human Rights, including drafting exercises, with a leading NGO through one of our optional modules.

We take pride in offering you this exciting and innovative degree, which is one of the leading master’s programmes on human rights in the UK. Our graduates go on to work successfully in NGOs, in European and other institutions worldwide, and in government and legal practice. You will be taught by specialists in their fields including in legal anthropology, legal practice, feminist legal theory, critical race theory, Marxist approaches, and psychoanalytical approaches to the study of human rights.


  • This LLM/MA Human Rights is ideal if you are a legal practitioner wishing to change your career path, or develop your knowledge further, as well as for those working in NGOs and in campaigning. It is also ideal for those wishing to critically engage with the history and philosophy of human rights with a view to progressing on to a research degree.

  • This course has close ties to a number of leading human rights NGOs and is informed by critical engagement with, and analysis of, human rights practice. The award of an LLM or an MA allows you to choose a qualification that best suits your existing and future career. The final award will be determined following completion of the course.

  • The school is the home of Birkbeck Law Press and publishes Law and Critique: The International Journal of Critical Legal Thought and the Birkbeck Law Review. You can also take advantage of the rich research collections nearby, including those of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Senate House Library, the British Library of Political and Economic Science (LSE Library) and the British Library.

  • Candidates with an outstanding academic record who demonstrate high potential for strong performance on one of our master's degrees can apply for School of Law Postgraduate Fee Awards.



Birkbeck, University of London



Birkbeck, part of the University of London, offers nearly 300 taught and research postgraduate programmes across arts and humanities, business and economics, law, science and social science. As an evening teaching specialist, Birkbeck offers its taught postgraduate courses between 6-9pm, with some courses available through distance learning. As with undergraduate courses, postgraduates can study full-time or part-time.

Home to 44 research and specialist institutes, Birkbeck is the sixth largest provider of taught postgrad courses for UK and EU students - some 44% of its 11,000-plus students are on postgrad programmes. Around 90% of its academics …

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