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LLM/PG Dip/PG Cert Human Rights Law

Learn about the course below
September 2024
1 year full-time
2 years part-time
£11,000 (UK) *
£17,600 (INT) *
Course leader
Dr Alessandra M. De Tommaso
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The School of Law at Middlesex University is ranked in the Top 100 globally and 2nd in the UK for Law in the ‘Times Higher Education Young University Ranking 2022’. In addition, we were ranked 6th in the UK as one of the most international universities, with 46% of our students travelling to the UK to study with us.

Middlesex is dedicated to providing students with the skills and abilities sought after by a wide range of employers, from legal firms and NGOs to domestic and international organisations. By undertaking this programme, you will gain a comprehensive knowledge of both international and regional human rights regimes as well as the ability to critically assess contemporary global challenges through the lens of rights and freedoms.

As a student at Middlesex, you will also have unique access to the experts at the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre, leaders in international litigation who have appeared before the European Court of Human Rights and UN human rights bodies.

Reasons to study the LLM/PGDip/PGCert Human Rights Law at Middlesex University 

Studying at Middlesex will enhance your professional development and horizons by refining your problem-solving skills in a transnational context through the acquisition of a critical understanding of international and regional human rights frameworks, institutions and practice, as well as the social and political context in which law operates.

The skills you will gain are transferable to a variety of professional sectors, including the legal profession, policymaking, the corporate sector, governmental bodies and academia.

You will have the opportunity to meet judges of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg on a field visit organised annually by Middlesex.

You will learn from experts who are actively engaged in the theoretical and practical application of human rights around the world:

  • William Schabas, Professor of International Law, is a world leading expert on genocide and the death penalty and has served on numerous international bodies including the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission and as the chairman of the UN Commission of Inquiry into the Gaza war.
  • Philip Leach, Professor of Human Rights Law, is the former Director of the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre and, among other public appointments, was appointed Specialist Adviser to the parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights for its inquiry into mental health and deaths in prison in 2016-2017.
  • Alice Donald, Associate Professor of Human Rights Law, is a former journalist at the BBC World Service and an expert in human rights implementation.
  • We will support you in finding internship opportunities whether they be in the UK or at international organisations such as the United Nations.
  • We bring the expertise of both the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre and the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion into the classroom, and you will have the opportunity to apply for work placements with these world leading organisations.
  • You can apply to take part in our unique International Human Rights Litigation module at the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre, bringing you into direct contact with practitioners of strategic litigation.

Find out more

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What you will study on the LLM/PGDip/PGCert Human Rights Law

Full-time LLM (1 year, 180 credits)

  • Four core plus two optional modules are completed over terms one and two, with a Dissertation period in term three.

Part-time LLM (2 years, 180 credits)

  • Four core plus two optional modules are completed over three taught terms, plus a Dissertation period.
  • Two modules in term one, two modules in term two, and two modules in the first term of the following academic year.

Full-time PG Diploma (1 year, 120 credits)

  • You will study four core modules plus two optional modules to be completed over terms one and two
  • Three modules will be taken in term one and three modules in term two

Part-time PG Diploma (2 years, 120 credits)

  • You will study four core modules plus two optional modules to be completed over three or four taught terms
  • In Year 1, you will study two modules in term one and two modules in term two
  • In Year 2, you can choose to study:
    • Two modules in term one or
    • One module in term one and one module in term two or
    • Two modules in term two.

For all pathways, attendance may be required during the day and/or evening, depending on your choice of modules.


Each module is typically worth 20 credits, except the Dissertation and Work Integrated Learning modules which are worth 60 credits each. The Work Integrated Learning module may be chosen to replace the Dissertation with prior agreement.

Additional optional modules available in international politics, criminology and sociology

In addition to the law modules listed below, students can study one of the following modules from international politics, criminology and sociology either in term one or two.

Term one: Sustainable Development and Human Rights; Environmental Law and Governance; Migration Theories and Approaches.

Term two: Politics of Globalisation.

Not all of the modules listed will be available in any one year. Module availability is dependent on staffing and the number of students wishing to take each module.

  • Core modules

    • Business and Human Rights (20 Credits) - Compulsory

      The Bophal disaster, the tragedy of the Niger Delta and the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory are all examples of what appears to be systematic corporate human rights abuses which are not being adequately prevented or remedied. This module enables students to understand how the sub-discipline business and human rights challenges State-centred architecture of international human rights law and delves into the responsibility of non-state actors such as multinational corporations in the area of human rights. It also challenges the idea that only individuals can commit international crimes such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes looking into corporate criminal and civil liability for human rights violations.

    • European Human Rights Law and Practice (20 Credits) - Compulsory

      This module engages you with the legal, political and philosophical perspectives of the legal frameworks, institutions and remedies available to protect fundamental rights in Europe, both under the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights.

    • International Human Rights Law (20 Credits) - Compulsory

      Provides an in-depth understanding of the international human rights law framework under the United Nation organisations and ability to assess its efficacy engaging the complementary American, African and Asian regional systems of promotion and protection of human rights worldwide.

    • Legal Research Skills (20 Credits) - Compulsory

      This module equips you with essential research skills necessary to complete a master's of law successfully, including the technical and conventional systems governing academic writing and the principles and practice followed in legal reasoning.

  • Plus one of the following:

    • Dissertation (60 Credits) - Optional

      The Dissertation module is taught in term two, and assessed by a 15,000-18,000 dissertation. Students demonstrate expert-level knowledge and advanced-level legal research skills by writing a dissertation paper, supported by a supervisor, on a topic proposed by the student and approved by the module leader, Dr Lughaidh Kerin.

      Eligible LLM students can replace this module with the Work Integrated Learning or Practicum in International Organisations module with prior approval.

    • Work Integrated Learning (typical course structure) (60 Credits) - Optional

      The module aims to enable you to apply theoretical knowledge and research to anticipate and respond to challenges in a selected workplace experience. You can undertake this workplace experience as an internship that you negotiate yourself or in your current workplace or an existing voluntary role. It also aims to help you foster sustainable long term learning by requiring that you take responsibility for your own learning, design and negotiate learning goals and make informed judgments about your performance across the programme of study. The module will ask you to engage as active subjects in the assessment process, thus enhancing your capacity for transformative learning. By selecting a topic of interest grounded in your workplace experience you’ll be expected to demonstrate reflexivity, self-regulation and self-assessment in your journey towards personal and professional development.

  • Optional modules

    • English Commercial Law (20 Credits) - Optional

      The purpose of the English Commercial Law module is to introduce you to this fascinating and richly hybridised area of law. It will encourage you to analyse contemporary issues, legal problems, and emergent changes to the legislation governing the conduct of trade, business and financial services. The module expects you to go beyond synthesis and to ask yourself what the law can and cannot do in facilitating trade, commerce, and the exchange of tangible assets in the UK and abroad, in order to create an original position on these debates in your written work and discussions with peers.

    • Foundations and Principles of International Law (20 Credits) - Optional

      This module will introduce you to the knowledge and help develop the academic skill necessary to critically evaluate the rules and structures which underpin international law, while also positioning you to provide authoritative commentary on how this body of law impacts upon both international relations as well as other contemporary concerns such as globalisation, the use of armed force, terrorism, poverty, governance and the regulation of ownership over territory.

    • International Organisations and the International Dispute Resolution (20 Credits) - Optional

      This module will provide you with advanced conceptual insights into the legal, political and structural issues that underpin dispute resolution at an international level through a thematic focus on issues such as trade, title to territory, and international peace and security. The module emphasises the rules and principles of international law and international relations in relation to the role of international organisations so as to enable you to think strategically about the different means of settlement of disputes and their applicability to existing or potential conflicts.

    • Law and Policy of the World Trade Organisation (20 Credits) - Optional

      This module has been designed to bestow you with a deeper understanding of global trade regimes by exploring world trade issues through critical legal, historical, political and economic perspectives. The goal is to provide you with the ability to critically engage with globalisation and contemporary international economic relations, the regulation of international trade by the WTO, as well as the relationship between international trade and the harmonisation of the law in relation to key trade-related issues.

    • Law of the International Sale of Goods (20 Credits) - Optional

      The Law of the International Sale of Goods builds upon your familiarity with the principles of contract law and extends this knowledge into the international arena; specifically, within the international sale of goods. The module focuses upon the English law governing trade in wet and dry commodities and contrasts this with international law, principally the United Nations Convention on the International Sale of Goods. This will enhance your ability to tackle the practical, policy and economic implications of those regimes enabling trade between parties straddling legal and geographic boundaries.

    • Migration: Theories & Approaches (20 Credits) - Optional

      In this module you will look at the relationship between migration, politics and policies from a comparative and European perspective. This relationship is both ‘top down’, with migration becoming an object of contention amongst political parties and migration policies being largely shaped by political divisions, and ‘bottom up’, with the growing presence of NGOs campaigning for migrant rights and migrant activism. First, you will be asked to comparatively examine migration policies, their regulatory role in the attempt to manage and control migratory flows, and how they have been affected by political debates over migration.

    • Sustainable Development and Human Rights (20 Credits) - Optional

      This module will help you critically explore the interaction between the key institutions and frameworks that govern human rights at the international level, and the international policy context which promotes sustainable development. You will explore the notion of competing, contested, and co-opted rights while learning to challenge their ability to function in crisis situations. The purpose of

      this module is to prompt you to question whether the current legal approach to human rights is sufficient to bring sustainable development to marginalised groups by focusing on issues of developmental inclusion, exclusion, indigenous peoples, caste systems, and gender inequality.

    • Environmental Law and Governance (20 Credits) - Optional

      Environmental Law and Governance will provide you with an in-depth understanding of environmental governance and the central theoretical approaches on which its principles are based. The module introduces the idea of the governance spectrum ranging from a coercive mode and legal instruments to approaches that rely on the agency and knowledge of environmental resource users themselves. The learning will involve role-playing, field trips, and workshops to help you to apply governance principles to real life policy problems. The module will include case studies drawing on the tutors’ research on environmental policy, urban environmental quality, and green criminology.

    • Politics of Globalisation  (20 Credits) - Optional

      In Politics of Globalisation you will be asked to consider the implications of the forces of globalisation in international relations, looking at processes and institutions at the level of politics, economics and culture in order to critically engage with transnational politics and issues of global importance. The aim of this module is to provide you with a platform to work constructively in groups, gain leadership skills and formulate arguments and coherent debates in a diverse international environment so that you can explore the ongoing debates surrounding these issues and learn to evaluate the effectiveness of international policy.

    • Postgraduate Legal Work Experience (typical course structure) (0 Credits) - Optional

      Postgraduate Legal Work Experience is a non-credit bearing module and provides students with an opportunity to gain law-related work experience in a support role supervised by experienced legal advisors. An academic tutor and Middlesex University’s Employability Service will provide information and guidance on finding work experience, but students must also be pro-active in finding a suitable position.

    • International Human Rights Litigation (20 Credits) - Optional

      Focusing on litigation at the international level, this module will give a select number of students the opportunity to work closely with experienced practising lawyers at the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre. The Centre litigates cases from former Soviet countries, including: Russia, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. You will work on active cases at the European Court of Human Rights and other international bodies, carrying out research, and drafting correspondence as well as other case-related papers and documents.

More information about this course

See the course specification for more information about typical course content outside of the coronavirus outbreak:

If we have insufficient numbers of students interested in an optional module, or there are staffing changes which affect the teaching, it may not be offered. If an optional module will not run, we will advise you after the module selection period when numbers are confirmed, or at the earliest time that the programme team make the decision not to run the module, and help you choose an alternative module.

How you will learn on the LLM/PGDip/PGCert Human Rights Law

You will gain knowledge and understanding through a stimulating combination of lectures, seminars and presentations which are used to communicate core information, develop themes and ideas, and student participation through interactive exercises, while also providing opportunities for peer- and self-assessment. You will also be required to engage in intensive programmes of structured reading and research, and to present your findings orally and in writing.

Skills training, particularly through our Legal Research Skills module, will equip you with the intellectual tools necessary for postgraduate work, including the identification of appropriate materials, critical and analytical reading, and both writing skills and conventions.

Learning and teaching on all modules is informed by a critical approach that encompasses relevant aspects of the ethical, social, professional, historical and cultural contexts within which the law operates. Ethics are specifically embedded in some modules and you will be provided with the opportunity to understand the ethical dimensions of your own research.

Those students accepted on the Work Integrated Learning modules will engage with decision-makers in our partner organisations and develop new skills in research, writing, IT and networking.

How you will be assessed on the LLM/PGDip/PGCert Human Rights Law

In order to present students with a more authentic form of assessment, Middlesex University has elected to move away from the examination model and has adopted an approach which reproduces the skills and tasks that are performed in the workplace. This commitment to professional alignment includes a varied mix of assessment styles such as: oral presentations, coursework, peer-marking, literature reviews and, where appropriate, a dissertation or report-writing.

How the LLM/PGDip/PGCert Human Rights Law combines the best of in-person and online learning

We as a university have reviewed our approach to teaching and learning for this year’s entry and beyond. We have learned a lot since 2020 about how to give you a quality education - we aim to combine the best of our in-person teaching and materials with our digital and online learning resources, putting you in charge of when and how you learn. We are dedicated to using technology to enhance your experience and will provide you with the digital support and online resources you will need to succeed.

In addition to your time spent in face-to-face learning, you’ll be expected to do independent study where you read, listen and reflect on your learning activities. You may be doing this by yourself or with your course mates, depending on your module selection. In a year, you will typically be expected to commit 1,200 hours to your course across both formal and self-directed study. If you are taking a placement, you might have some additional hours.

How you will be supported when studying the LLM/PGDip/PGCert Human Rights Law

You will have a strong support network available to you to make sure you develop all the necessary academic skills you need to achieve your full potential on your course.

You will have access to both one-to-one and group sessions for personal learning and academic support from our Library, Learning Enhancement and IT teams. In addition, our Welfare teams are also able to offer financial advice, and personal wellbeing, mental health and disability support.

  1. Standard entry requirements
  2. International
  3. How to apply
  1. UK
  2. International
  3. Additional costs
  4. Scholarships and bursaries

How the LLM/PGDip/PGCert Human Rights Law will support your career

In-depth knowledge of human rights law equips students with skills across several legal disciplines and opens career possibilities in public and private bodies working in sectors concerning public law, family law, discrimination, immigration, housing, actions against the police, employment or business law. This programme is particularly aimed at students who are interested in human rights-related work and/or who wish to influence policies to ensure the enjoyment of human rights at national, regional and international level. Many have also continued their higher education studies via a PhD.

As well as access to the University's Employability Service, you will be offered specialist advice by the Programme Leader and other contributors to the programme, including guidance on how to enter and pass recruitment processes for national and international organisations. You will have access to the support services offered by the Clinical Legal Education programme and be invited to attend career-focused workshops, skills sessions and events.

Our team of world-renowned lecturers will provide the latest thinking and practice on legal issues. Our students benefit from their considerable network of contacts and connections within their sectors, notably for internship opportunities within international and domestic organisations, such as the United Nations, our on-campus litigation centre, the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre, and a range of local companies providing professional legal services.

Dr Alessandra M. De Tommaso
Lecturer in Law

Dr Alessandra M. De Tommaso joined Middlesex University in 2021 as a Lecturer in Law and is a qualified lawyer and a member of the Italian Bar Association. Alessandra’s research interests are in corporate criminal liability, international criminal law and business and human rights and she is currently focussing on the feasibility of holding corporations accountable for their involvement in international crimes and human rights abuses.

  • Matteo Zamboni

    LLM Human Rights Law

    I chose to study an LLM at Middlesex in order to expand my capacity to work internationally. I have been working at an Italian human rights law firm for the past six years working mainly on cases for the European Court of Human Rights and UN treaty bodies. At Middlesex I have had the opportunity to study human rights mechanisms other than the European regional system and the UN and have been able to enrich my network of human rights lawyers.

    A benefit of studying at Middlesex is being in direct contact with renown human rights scholars and practitioners such as Philip Leach and William Schabas, in addition to meeting other foreign human rights lawyers (eg Wolfgang Kaleck, ECCHR) who have been invited to conferences and events. I already knew these people by name, often studied their books and articles and perhaps exchanged some emails with them, but it was very interesting to be able to meet and talk to them in person.

    I have chosen to do the Work Integrated Learning Module and have taken up an internship at Minority Rights Group International. The internship is giving me the opportunity to explore the professional area where I would like to work – public interest litigation in an NGO legal team. It is also giving me a more precise understanding of the skills and the abilities needed to be part of such a team as well as of the final purpose of a strategic litigation program. Not least, the internship is giving me network opportunities to pursue the next step in my career.

We’ll carefully manage any future changes to courses, or the support and other services available to you, if these are necessary because of things like changes to government health and safety advice, or any changes to the law.

Any decisions will be taken in line with both external advice and the University’s Regulations which include information on this.

Our priority will always be to maintain academic standards and quality so that your learning outcomes are not affected by any adjustments that we may have to make.

At all times we’ll aim to keep you well informed of how we may need to respond to changing circumstances, and about support that we’ll provide to you.

Other courses

LLM/PGDip/PGCert Law (General)

Start: September 2024

Duration: 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time

Code: PGM302

LLM/PGDip/PGCert International Law

Start: September 2024

Duration: 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time

Code: PGM195

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