The MA in Human Rights Program combines social science, policy-based approach with legal science and it aims to provide theoretical and practical training in human rights for students who do not have a legal background. The problem-focused curriculum and the strong interdisciplinary and comparative approach offer students ample opportunities to understand the theoretical and legal foundations of human rights and engage with the challenges of human rights protection in the age of skepticism and populism. The MA Program in Human Rights – as all programs at the Department of Legal Studies – is committed to research-based teaching. Areas of research and teaching cover – among others – international mechanisms for the protection of human rights in all international and regional human rights regimes, freedom of expression and freedom of religion, human rights and criminal justice, political rights, non-discrimination, minority protection, human rights and development politics, human rights in Africa, and the constitutional protection of rights on a basic level. Courses by our part-time (visiting) faculty build on the core content taught by permanent faculty and permit us to introduce courses on contemporary human rights challenges as they arise. The program also benefits from close cooperation with other master’s programs of the Department via optional thematic specializations.
Teaching has a strong practical orientation and includes experiential learning and skill-building components in order to develop skills indispensable for successful human rights practitioners (such as negotiation, drafting, advocacy and presentation skills). Rigorous and closely monitored coursework provides the tools of analysis, critical reading and writing skills to enable students to make a significant and lasting contribution to the protection of rights in their home countries and to the enforcement of human rights at large. Courses prepare students to explore human rights issues across legal systems, to engage in advanced critical thinking and refine their arguments in oral interactions and group work. Classes are highly interactive, enabling students to benefit from the international composition of the student body; in-class discussions allow insight into contemporary developments as they evolve and enable critical engagement with these developments in a manner that is sensitive to the multi-cultural composition of our academic community at all times. Individual research skills are developed through comparative problem-driven papers written for various courses, as well as in the final thesis or capstone thesis. Several courses offer first-hand experience for students in human rights advocacy and immersions to the work of civil society organizations, which remain unique assets of the Program. Students are encouraged to address practical human rights problems through comparative analysis, using a theoretic framework informed by inter-disciplinary insight. As a result, our graduates are capable to respond to challenging human rights problems with advanced analytical skills drawing on critical comparative inter-disciplinary analysis in a policy-relevant manner.