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LLM Human Rights Law

An LLM Human Rights Law programme will allow you to engage with the theory and practice of a number of human rights topics relating to international legal systems and topical issues.

You will cover institutions such as the European Union and the UN; the human rights initiatives of NGOs; social justice and the rights of the individual; fundamental treaties such as the European Convention on Human Rights; and take on many comparative elements of study. This area of law will require particularly close attention to the social and political contexts relating to topics of research.

There is a heavy international focus for this particular LLM specialism. You will develop sophisticated skills in legal research of this topic and a deep understanding of principles and legislation which influence practices organisations across the world.

Core modules

Human rights law covers a vast number of topics. Students can choose to study a range of subjects, including:

  • Gender
  • Immigration law
  • International human rights law; global protection of human rights
  • Human rights policy
  • Human rights advocacy
  • Sexual and gay rights
  • Systems of human rights in countries across the world
  • International criminal law
  • European Union-related subjects, such as European human rights, immigration or rights of the child
  • International law of armed conflict
  • Third-generation rights
  • Data protection
  • Disability
  • Theory/practice of the European Convention on Human Rights
  • Minority rights
  • Islam and human rights
  • Medical law.

Course structure

The majority of LLM Human Rights programmes are in a taught degree format, i.e. they will have to complete a combination of mandatory and optional modules by attending set lectures/seminars and submitting course work for each module. Prospective students can expect to have to submit at least one essay for each module and also produce a dissertation, usually of around 12,000 words, on a topic of their choice. Some law schools may use additional forms of assessment.

In addition some courses require students to complete an overseas placement with a human rights organisation in order to gain and develop practical work experience of this area. Alternatively, some may offer this as another option as part of their programme.

There are over 25 providers of LLM Human Rights programmes across the UK, including London universities, The majority of them are full-time, year-long courses, with a few options for part-time and distance learning, for example from the University of York and Aberystwyth University.

Master of Laws human rights courses are often also offered as joint programmes with further specialist subject areas, such as human rights and the environment, human rights and terrorism or human rights and developments. There is also the potential to take on a human rights issue for an LLM by Research degree.

Entry requirements for LLM Human Rights Law

Students should have a good undergraduate degree in law or the equivalent. Some law schools may also accept non-law graduates or those with relevant experience; in these instances individuals will need to have at least some knowledge of the law.

By Jos Weale, Editor,