Human Rights Law LLM



Fact file

LLM Human Rights Law
1 year full-time, 2 years part-time
Entry requirements
2.1 (or international equivalent) in law, humanities or social sciences
Other requirements
7.0 (with no less than 7.0 in writing, 6.5 in reading and 6.0 in speaking and listening)

If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available
Start date
University Park
Tuition fees
You can find fee information on our fees table.


This course, which boasts cutting edge and innovative module options, exposes students to the most exciting ideas and developments in human rights law.
Read full overview

The modules at the heart of the LLM Human Rights Law provide a thorough grounding in human rights law, and many of the more specialised topics are cutting edge and innovative, such as 'Business and Human Rights', 'Economic and Social Rights' and 'Rights, Humans and Other Animals'.

The school has a particular strength in human rights law. Many staff are internationally recognised for their research in the area. They have advised governments, collaborated with various international organisations including the United Nations and the Council of Europe, and joined forces with NGOs in their human rights advocacy work. This blend of academic endeavour and practical work is often brought to the classroom, so that you can see how human rights law can have an impact on the ground.

The school is also home to the Human Rights Law Centre, one of the world's most respected academic human rights institutions. It carries out its work through research, training, publications and capacity building, collaborating with governments, inter-governmental organisations, academics, students and civil society; alongside implementing programmes in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The Centre is a focal point for student activity in human rights. It hosts an annual international student conference and a human rights film series, and, internship bursaries and research assistance opportunities.

Having completed the LLM Human Rights, many of our students obtain jobs with the United Nations or other international organisations, governments and non-governmental organisations.

Key facts

  • The School of Law was ranked 41st best law school in the world, and 9th in the UK, by the QS World Rankings by Subject 2016
  • Since its introduction in 1987, our LLM programme has continued to grow in popularity and prestige and now attracts some 140 to 160 students each year, from more than 50 countries, confirming its status as one of the leading LLM programmes available
  • Research-led teaching means that you will be exposed to current issues, advanced debate, and innovative thinking and regular guest seminars and lectures, delivered by distinguished scholars and practitioners complement teaching in the school
  • Dedicated resources for students in the school, including a Legal Skills Advisor who delivers workshops and one-to-one sessions, a Law School computer room, and a Law Reading Room in the Hallward Library, contribute to a unique and positive learning experience
  • The school enjoys professional relationships with international institutions, leading UK law firms, private industry and consultancies, government departments, both foreign and domestic, and non-governmental organisations

Course details

You must complete at least 90 credits worth of modules from the qualifying specialist module options for the Human Rights Law LLM. The remaining 30 credits required to complete the taught stage of the degree can be chosen from the full suite of modules offered across all of our LLM programmes.

In addition, you must choose a dissertation topic which falls within the field of human rights law. Guidance and support on deciding a dissertation topic and designing your project will be provided through bespoke workshops and one-to-one support.


The LLM programme operates small group seminar teaching wherever possible, allowing for an integrative and interactive learning experience. You are encouraged and expected to prepare for, and participate in, seminars so that you get the maximum benefit from these teaching sessions.

Modular assessments

All taught courses are assessed by examination or essay, or a combination of both. All assessments take place at the end of the spring term.

Practice assignments, workshops on issues such as exam technique and time management, as well as one-to-one sessions with the Legal Skills Advisor are offered throughout the academic year to prepare you for these assessments.



Qualifying module options

Business and Human Rights

This module considers how business increasingly conducts its operations with responsibility to its stakeholders and to society at large. It examines the emergence of the business and human rights regime, which forms the basis for addressing both legal developments and voluntary initiatives across a spectrum of business and industry sectors and different types of firms operating both globally and locally.

The module content is diverse and wide-ranging, and draws on case studies in order to foster knowledge about the impacts of business on human rights protection. It considers key issues in the current business and human rights regime, including states' obligation to protect human rights, the corporate responsibility to respect human rights, human rights due diligence and access to remedy for human rights violations by corporations and other business entities.

Contemporary Issues in Criminal Justice

This module explores a number of contemporary issues which have given rise to controversy within criminal justice processes with reference to different comparative models. A comparative method is employed to examine how these issues are treated across a range of different criminal justice systems.

Detention and Imprisonment in the International Criminal Justice System

From the history of detention and imprisonment at the post-World War II International Military Tribunals, the course will progress to look at the penal regimes of the contemporary international criminal courts and tribunals, including the ICTY, ICTR, MICT, SCSL and ICC. 

You will learn about the systems for and conditions in international remand detention and analyse the complaints and disciplinary procedures and oversight mechanisms operating within these international facilities.

Seminars will be devoted to discussions about the various penalties international criminal courts can impose, and the reasons international judges give for their imposition. You will also learn about life for international prisoners post-conviction, through an exploration of the various systems used to enforce international sentences of imprisonment.

Seminars will look at the degree of control international courts retain over these sentences and their responsibility for international prisoners while they are housed in national prisons. This module will also look at the remedies that should be and are available for international prisoners whose human rights have been violated, and address the question of whether it is necessary, feasible or desirable to create an international prison system.

Economic and Social Rights

This module will open with a consideration of the historical origins and philosophical underpinnings of economic and social rights (ESR). Key themes that will be developed throughout the course include perceptions of the nature of such rights and the related question of the extent to which such rights are, and should be, justiciable. You will evaluate the different ways in which ESR are protected and implemented, both domestically and internationally (eg by considering international and regional ESR frameworks, the role of NHRI, tribunals and other mechanisms by which ESR are given effect to).

The module will consider litigation and judicial enforcement of ESR in jurisdictions such as South Africa, Argentina, Colombia, India, Ireland, Germany, South Africa, the UK and the United States, as appropriate. Specific substantive ESR will be addressed in dedicated module sessions (for instance, the rights to adequate housing and health). Ultimately, the module will equip you with the knowledge and understanding necessary to engage in, and critically analyse, the debates surrounding ESR that exist both amongst legal commentators and at a broader societal level.

The European Convention on Human Rights

The module covers articles 2, 3, 5, 6, 8 and 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), together with the procedural provisions of the ECHR.

International and Comparative Penal Law and Human Rights

This module covers:

  • the development of international human rights law applicable to punishment
  • sentencing principlies and international standards
  • human rights as sentencing principles
  • corporal punishment
  • the death penalty
  • life imprisonment
  • indeterminate sentences
  • community sanctions
  • victims of crime and the penal process
  • sentencing and punishment in international courts and tribunals
International Criminal Evidence

This module explores the strengths and weaknesses of different models of proof in both domesticand international criminal justice systems and the extent to which an international consensus is emerging around the principles of evidence and proof.

International Criminal Law

An introduction to international criminal law issues, with particular emphasis on institutions (such as Nuremberg and Tokyo IMTs, the ad hoc Tribunals and the International Criminal Court) as well as substantive and procedural aspects of international criminal law.

The module focuses on the institutional developments in international criminal law as well as the definition and application of the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and aggression. Principles of liability, defences and elements of international criminal procedure will also be covered.

International Human Rights Law

This module will introduce you to the law and practice related to international human rights. You will be encouraged to explore the foundations of international human rights law. The global, regional and national mechanisms of human rights protection will be introduced and evaluated. A selection of substantive human rights will be examined and contemporary challenges to human rights protection will be discussed.

International Humanitarian Law

This module examines the legal constraints of international and national warfare. It traces the historical and contextual development of the law and focuses upon the principles which govern warfare. During the module, you will also study the mechanisms for the enforcement and the implementation of international humanitarian law.

Law, Development and the International Community

This module examines some of the relationships between law and development. After examining both the notion of development per se and the right to development as a human right, the module moves on to cover a number of individual issues where the relationship between law, development and human rights can be explored.

Subjects covered include:

  • the concept of development and the role of international law in promoting "development"
  • the regulation of aid
  • the WTO and developing countries
  • intellectual property and access to medication
  • the protection of traditional knowledge
  • agriculture
  • food aid and food security
  • sustainable development
  • gender and development
Mental Disability and International Human Rights

This module will examine the application of international human rights law, including both relevant UN conventions and the European Convention on Human Rights and its jurisprudence, to persons with mental disabilities.

Minorities and International Human Rights

The module aims to provide a thorough grounding in the application of international law standards to minorities and indigenous peoples. There is a strong focus on the decisions of international and European courts and international human rights bodies.

Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights and Criminal Justice

A broadly-based introduction to the philosophical foundations of human rights and criminal justice, emphasising the moral and political underpinnings of legal rules, doctrines and principles.

The module first tackles perennial conceptual and methodological issues relating to the nature of "philosophical" inquiry and the challenges of scepticism. Thereafter, the model reconsiders key issues and questions in contemporary debates surrounding human rights and criminal justice through the contrasting lenses of two rival philosophical perspectives, utilitarianism and liberal deontology.

Principles of Public International Law

The module is primarily concerned with those customary and treaty rules governing relations between States. This module aims to give candidates a thorough grounding in the principles of PIL. The basic topics include: nature of international law, sources, actors in the international legal system, jurisdiction and state responsibility.

The Protection of Refugees and Displaced Persons in International Law

Following a review of the history of international refugee law, the course focuses on the legal context of forced displacement today, including the rights and obligations of States and the rights of individuals. The 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees are reviewed, with due regard also to human rights protection. Who is a refugee, and how decisions are made, are examined with reference to key terms, such as persecution, race, religion, political opinion and social group, and in light of selected contemporary issues, such as conscientious objection to military service, women refugees, flight from conflict, security, terrorism, and 'exclusion'.

The course also considers the legal standing of currently contested issues, such as the right to seek asylum, the principle of non-refoulement, procedural standards, the responsibility to determine asylum claims, and extra-territorial measures of interception. Examples from different jurisdictions and the practice of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees are used to focus attention on the adequacy of existing international mechanisms, particularly in the face of the challenges presented by migration, human smuggling, trafficking, internal displacement, complex emergencies (including protracted conflict) and humanitarian assistance.

Regional Human Rights Law

This module will expose you to how human rights are protected in regional human rights law. In doing so, it will focus on the standards and mechanisms related to the Inter-American, African, ASEAN and Council of Europe (excluding the ECHR) regional human rights systems. Having addressed the evolution of the specific systems, as well as their key institutions, the course will focus on a number of substantive rights areas from a critical comparative perspective. These will include migrant rights, children's rights and limitations on rights within the different systems.

The module will cover both the 'theory' and the 'practice' of regional human rights protection. In addition to looking at standards and mechanisms, you will consider the challenges posed in the different regions to the effective realisation of (some or all) human rights. This will include an examination of issues such as regional social and cultural attitudes, as well as logistical issues such as the limited enforcement powers and poor resourcing of some regional human rights systems.

Religion and International Human Rights

The module aims to provide a thorough grounding in the application of international law standards to religion. There is a strong focus on the decisions of international and European courts and international human rights bodies.

Rights, Humans and Other Animals

This module covers:

  • the changing perspectives on the status and treatment of animals
  • developments in the field of protection of the human person
  • philosophical foundations of human rights and applicability to other species
  • the current regime governing the protection of animals under international law
  • the notion of rights and implications of its extension to other species


The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. This list is an example of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.



The School of Law advertises a variety of funding opportunities each year, please see the funding opportunities webpage for further information.

There is also funding information on the Graduate School website.

International and EU students

The University of Nottingham offers a range of masters scholarships for international and EU students from a wide variety of countries and areas of study.

Applicants must receive an offer of study before applying for our scholarships. Applications for 2017 entry scholarships will open in late 2016. Please note the closing dates of any scholarships you are interested in and make sure you submit your masters course application in good time so that you have the opportunity to apply for them.

The International Office also provides information and advice for international and EU students on financing your degree, living costs, external sources of funding and working during your studies.

Find out more on our scholarships, fees and finance webpages for international applicants.



Our postgraduate students move into an extraordinarily wide range of careers. Many graduates either go into the legal profession or return to their previous legal careers with their experience and prospects enhanced by their experiences on the course. A large number also work with NGOs, or return to their countries with the relevant skills to help add to the future development of that country.

A selection of graduates progress onto our PhD programme each year, in order to progress their academic career. These students often choose to stay at The University of Nottingham beyond their doctorate, with a number of our current academics having completed both the LLM or Masters and PhD programmes with us before becoming members of staff.

Average starting salary and career progression

In 2015, 93% of postgraduates in the School of Law who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £27,031 with the highest being £40,800.*

* Known destinations of full-time home higher degree postgraduates 2014/15. Salaries are calculated based on those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Career prospects and employability

The acquisition of a masters degree demonstrates a high level of knowledge in a specific field. Whether you are using it to enhance your employability, as preparation for further academic research or as a means of vocational training, you may benefit from careers advice as to how you can use your new found skills to their full potential.

Our Careers and Employability Service will help you do this, working with you to explore your options and inviting you to attend recruitment events where you can meet potential employers, as well as suggesting further development opportunities, such as relevant work experience placements and skills workshops.

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