The MA in Human Rights Law provides a specialisation in a constantly evolving area of law that covers a range of issues at the heart of major contemporary developments and debates.
This programme offers a wide range of distinctive modules that combine a focus on core subjects in the field alongside a critical inquiry into the theory and practice of human rights law and related fields, particularly as they relate to the global South.
Options include core international modules on international human rights law, international criminal law, international refugee and migration law, international humanitarian law, and justice, reconciliation and reconstruction in post conflict societies.
The degree also offers singular modules on specific legal approaches, settings, and cross-cutting themes such as Human Rights and Islamic Law; Law, Rights & Social Change; Law, Human Rights and Peace-building: the Israeli-Palestinian case; Darfur: Anatomy of a Human Rights Emergency; and Human Rights of Women.
Teaching and learning environment
SOAS provides a unique environment and opportunity to engage with relevant issues taught by our expert staff who bring with them a wealth of knowledge and experience of working and teaching in the field. This includes posts such as United Nations Independent Expert on human rights in the Sudan, acting as advisors to national, regional and international bodies, and in multiple roles and affiliations with civil society organisations and actors.
The MA in Human Rights Law uses a range of teaching methods and approaches, which draw on the wider, global community of academics, legal practitioners and NGOs, to foster an engaged, critical learning environment. The International Human Rights Clinic is a particularly popular example of this approach.
The area of human rights, conflict and justice occupies an important place in the SOAS School of Law, which is home to the SOAS Centre for Human Rights Law. The Centre provides a focal point for research activities and regular events, and an opportunity for postgraduate students to become involved and engage with the SOAS research community and actors in the field.
The programme is ideal for legal professionals as well as students without a law degree, with an interest in the theory and practice of human rights law and related fields, particularly as they relate to the global south.
You will join an international alumni of graduates from SOAS, many of whom are now working at the UN, in NGOs, in government, private practice, policy work or academia.
Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings
Start of programme: September intake only
Mode of Attendance: Full-time or Part-time
- Minimum second class honours preferably in a related discipline
- One calendar year (full-time);
Two or three years (part-time, daytime only)
- UK/EU fees:
- Overseas fees:
Fees for 2020/21 entrants. This is a Band 5 fee. The fees are per academic year. Please note that fees go up each year. Further details can be found in the Fees and Funding tab on this page or in the Registry Postgraduate Tuition Fees page
To facilitate the study of law, all MA students are required to attend a two-week Preliminary Law, Legal Reasoning and Legal Methods in the September before beginning the MA programme.
Students must take modules to a total value of 180, consisting of a dissertation (60 credits) and 120 credits of taught modules. Taught modules are worth either 15 or 30 credits.
Students who wish to graduate with a specialised MA are required to take at least 60 credits associated with his or her specialised MA, a further 30 credits within the School of Law (General Law Postgraduate Taught Module List), and a final 30 unit which can either be taken within the School of Law or from the Language Open Options or Non-Language Open Options pages with the MA Programme Convenor’s permission. The dissertation topic will be undertaken within the MA specialisation.
Please note: Not all modules listed will be available every year. Please see the individual module page for information.
Students must complete a Dissertation (12,000 words) in Law, which should be on a topic relating to their chosen MA specialism.
Choose modules from the List A below to the value of 60 credits
Choose a module(s) from the List A or General Law Options below to the value of 30 credits
Choose a module(s) from the List of General Law Options below or from Postgraduate Open Options to the value of 30 credits
List of Modules (subject to availability)
General Law Options
Open Options Note
Open options from cross-Faculty list will need approval of deputy PG programme convenor (LLM or MA)
The information on the programme page reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session. If you are a current student you can find structure information on the previous year link at the top of the page or through your Department. Please read the important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules.
Teaching & Learning
All Masters programmes consist of 180 credits, made up of taught modules of 30 or 15 credits, taught over 10 or 20 weeks, and a dissertation of 60 credits. The programme structure shows which modules are compulsory and which optional.
As a rough guide, 1 credit equals approximately 10 hours of work. Most of this will be independent study, including reading and research, preparing coursework, revising for examinations and so on. It will also include class time, which may include lectures, seminars and other classes. Some subjects, such as learning a language, have more class time than others. At SOAS, most postgraduate modules have a one hour lecture and a one hour seminar every week, but this does vary.
More information is on the page for each module.
Knowledge & Understanding
- Students will acquire specialist knowledge of human rights law internationally.
- This includes, but is not necessarily limited to, knowledge and understanding of the following:
- the theoretical and practical underpinnings of human rights law internationally;
- the context in which law is made, interpreted, adjudicated, and amended;
- the role played bylaw,particularly human rights law indifferent situations at the national, regional and international level;
- the role and function of legal institutions in dealing with human rights;
- the weight and significance of different sources and methodologies.
- Students will develop knowledge of how to locate relevant materials and assess their relevance and/or importance.
Intellectual (thinking) Skills
- Students should develop rigor in analysis and assessment of legal arguments.
- Students should develop the ability to understand, summarise and critically assess differing perspectives on theoretical debates.
- Students should develop independence of thought and the confidence to challenge the accepted wisdom.
- Students should learn to identify issues and formulate questions for further research through independent work.
- Students will be encouraged to bring to bear their own previous experience and knowledge in addressing legal issues in an interdisciplinary manner.
Subject-based Practical Skills
The programme will help students develop the ability to:
- Write clear research essays and dissertations.
- Research in a variety of specialized research libraries and institutes and online,and retrieve, sift and select information from a variety of sources.
- Present seminar papers and defend the arguments therein.
- Discuss ideas introduced during seminars.
- Develop essay and dissertation research questions.
- Read legal source materials rapidly and critically.
- Present legal arguments in moots and debates.
The programme will enable students to:
- Communicate effectively in writing.
- Structure and communicate ideas and arguments effectively both orally and in writing.
- Read and comprehend significant quantities of reading rapidly and effectively and develop critical faculties.
- Find and use a variety of written and digital materials, especially legal materials, in libraries and research institutes.
- Present (non – assessed)material orally.
- Develop teamwork skills.
Full details of postgraduate tuition fees can be found on the Registry's Postgraduate Tuition Fees page.
This is a Band 5 tuition fee.
Fees for 2020/21 entrants. The fees below are per academic year. Fees go up each year, therefore, your tuition fee in your second & subsequent years of study will be higher. Our continuing students, on the same degree programme, are protected from annual increases higher than 5%.
||Part-time 2 Years
||Part-time 3 Years
||LLM only 4 Years
For further details and information on external scholarships visit the Scholarships section