1 year full time, 2 years part time
Starts September 2017

International Human Rights Law

Many believe that international human rights law is one of our greatest moral achievements. However, huge gaps remain between the theory and the practice of human rights implementation.

You’ll study the interconnections between international human rights law and regional and national systems of human rights protection. Studying legal texts such as treaties, declarations and case law, you’ll examine the legal context behind contemporary issues and challenges. 

Many of our staff engage in interdisciplinary human rights research, which is reflected in our teaching. This is an area of research strength at Sussex. The Sussex Centre for Human Rights Research was established in 2015.

Putting theory into practice – Poppy Ni Bhroithe-Barnett, International Human Rights Law LLM

Key facts

  • Engage with a growing team of established human rights researchers and get involved with the Sussex Centre for Human Rights Research.
  • Prepare for your future career and take advantage of the opportunities provided by the Human Rights Law Clinic.
  • Discover what interests you most – Sussex Law School provides a truly international, stimulating and engaging learning environment for you to build a rich base of knowledge in human rights.

How will I study?

You’ll learn through core modules and options in the autumn and spring terms. In the summer, you undertake supervised work on the LLM dissertation.

You will be assessed through coursework, a portfolio, essays and a 10,000-word dissertation.

Human Rights Law Clinic

When you’ve successfully completed the International Human Rights Law core module, you can apply for The Human Rights Law Clinic option.

The Clinic gives you the chance to build on law and theory through the preparation of pro bono legal opinions for real clients. You’ll gain practical insights, work on research, and formulate advice and recommendations on contemporary human rights challenges. 

Full-time and part-time study

You can choose to study this course full time or part time. Find the modules for the full-time course below. 

For details about the part-time course structure, contact us at lps@sussex.ac.uk

What will I study?

  • Module list

    Core modules

    Core modules are taken by all students on the course. They give you a solid grounding in your chosen subject and prepare you to explore the topics that interest you most.

    • Advanced Legal Research and Writing

      15 credits
      Autumn Teaching, Year 1

      Advanced Legal Research and Writing has two purposes:

      • to ground students in the conventions of advanced academic writing in law (a specialised form of discourse with many non-obvious conventions and norms)
      • to ground students in the leading traditions or approaches in academic legal research.

      The module covers modern standards for the citation of legal authorities (such as OSCOLA), as well as the justification for them. Legal traditions covered include:

      • doctrinal exposition and analysis
      • critique of doctrine, institutional design and practice
      • researching the dynamics of law.
    • Approaches to International Law

      15 credits
      Autumn Teaching, Year 1

      This module introduces you to the key theories and critiques that underpin scholarship and thinking about international law.

      It covers approaches such as positivism and socio-legal studies, as well as approaches which place particular emphasis on power and power structures (e.g. Marxism, Feminism, Critical Legal Studies, Post-Colonial Studies and Third World Approaches to International Law) and on human rights.

      You will be required to evaluate and critique different approaches, and to reflect on uses of these approaches within the field of international law.

    • International Human Rights Law

      30 credits
      Autumn Teaching, Year 1

      This core module will provide you with advanced knowledge about key approaches and issues in international human rights law. It is focused on the interplay between human rights law at the domestic, regional and international levels.

      We begin by assessing the development of the body of international legislation around human rights that started to form after World War II. You situate this within understandings of human rights that have existed for a much longer time.

      You go on to reflect upon the theoretical critiques (e.g. liberal, feminist, cultural relativist) that have been addressed to the concept of rights. We will also evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of human rights institutions charged with the adjudication and implementation of human rights.

      The aim of this module is to prepare you for the specialist options in the Spring Term, as well as for dissertation research.

    • Principles of International Law

      15 credits
      Autumn Teaching, Year 1

      Principles of International Law provides you with:

      • a guide to the history of international law
      • an introduction key institutions, sources and subjects of international law
      • an overview of principles of accountability and responsibility.

      It aims to contextualise public international law’s place in contemporary international relations, and to consider new problems and insights in this broad field.

    • Dissertation (International Human Rights)

      45 credits
      Spring & Summer Teaching, Year 1

      All LLM students design and carry out a project of research under individual supervision.

      You are encouraged to apply the theoretical and practical principles of research methodology which were addressed by the module Advanced Research for LLM Students in the production of your 10,000-word dissertation. The aim of your dissertation is to complete an extended piece of research work on a topic of your choice. This will deepen your appreciation of international human rights law and develop your research skills.




    Alongside your core modules, you can choose options to broaden your horizons and tailor your course to your interests.

    • Culture and Identity Rights

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      The aim of this module is to explore the development of rights to culture, religion and language from an international and comparative perspective. The idea is to link rights based discussions to contemporary debates involving cultural issues and conflicts (for example on Shari'a law, on religious dress and symbols and on language rights in post-conflict reconciliation). In particular, the module seeks to explore the accommodation of such rights and the balancing of competing interests.

      The module will be divided into three parts. The first part of the module will introduce relevant legal frameworks and different theoretical perspectives required for a study of legal approaches to culture, religion and language. Specifically, this part will consider what we mean conceptually by culture, religion and language and consider how competing values and interests are reconciled within the international human rights framework. 

      The second part will consider in more depth the development of (both individual and collective) rights to culture, religion and language at the international level and consider the wider implications of the recognition of such rights with a particular focus on specific country situations. This part of the module will consider the extent to which such rights are increasingly being marginalised. It will also consider the impact of contemporary challenges, such as the current economic climate on the accommodation of such rights as well as new opportunities in a post-multicultural era. 

      The final part of the module will involve oral presentation of research plans on a case-study of your choice.

    • Fair Trial and Detention in International Law

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      This module will explore international, and where appropriate regional, law and standards applicable to fair trial and detention. It will consider this from both a rights-holder’s perspective as well as from the perspective of the responsibilities of States pertaining to the promotion, non-interference with and protection of applicable human rights. Consideration will also be given, where appropriate, to intersecting international humanitarian law and standards.

      The module will be divided into three parts. The first will focus on fair trial rights and standards, commencing with a foundation lecture on the applicable legal framework and then followed by discussion seminars, each based on pre-assigned readings, on key issues and contemporary challenges pertaining to the right to a fair trial, such as the role and jurisdiction of military courts and the non-disclosure of information on grounds of national security.

      The second part of this module will consider the rights triggered by the deprivation of a person’s liberty, also commencing with a foundation lecture and followed by discussion seminars. Seminars will focus on key issues and challenges such as habeas corpus, administrative and secret detention and the prevention of torture and other forms or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

      The final part of the module will involve oral presentations of research plans on case studies of each student's choice.

    • Global Security and Human Rights

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      This module looks at the often problematic relationship between ‘security’ and the global ‘public good’ within international law. In the module we examine the historical development of international law in relation to colonialism and globalisation and go on to consider the possibilities and limitations of new modes of global governance. We will look at how international law has ordered and shaped global space in relation to property, economic organisation and the use of force and we will investigate the various legal, moral and political arguments that lie behind these changes. The module combines international law scholarship, critical theory and case studies to assess the global significance of the idea of ‘security’ today.

    • Human Rights Law Clinic

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      You can build on law and theory learnt at degree level through the preparation of pro bono legal opinions for real clients, applying research and writing skills to the analysis of facts in real situations. You will also develop spoken presentation skills.

      Under supervision, you'll work on specific legal questions related to international human rights law from clients such as international organisations or government bodies.

      Depending on the complexity of the advice, you will work individually or as part of a small group to produce memoranda for clients, following a process of consultation, close supervision, oversight and review, work-in-progress discussion and draft presentations to clients.

      Although the module aims to boost your ability to tailor advice to clients, it will ultimately train you in the practice and application of international human rights law.

    • International Business and Human Rights

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      The module considers the legal and regulatory framework governing the financial and securities markets. With US, UK and EU law the primary focus, the module also looks at civil law systems, in particular, when cross-border issues arise and where corporate assets and liabilities are located in multiple jurisdictions. The module examines legal structures of cutting edge transactions as well as the underlying policy objectives that shape the financial law and regulation. In the post-financial crisis legal environment, the most challenging issues are identified and explored, with a particular regard to the recent trend of public and private law enforcement. Specifically, the module addresses financial accounting, disclosure, corporate finance, securities litigation, mergers and acquisitions (M&As), corporate criminal liability and cross-border insolvency in the global financial markets. The theory of fraud-on-the-market will also be highlighted along with the recent landmark cases by the US Supreme Court.

    • International Crimes

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      This module will focus on the four core crimes in international law, including genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression. In each case we will highlight their development, application in international and domestic courts and matters of controversy in relation thereto, before examining other so-called quasi-international crimes including torture, hijacking, and terrorism.

    • International Environmental Law

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      This module begins with an introduction to the policies and principles surrounding international environmental law including an examination of the historical development of the subject area; the sources and participants found within international environmental law; and issues surrounding compliance and enforcement. Following this, the module will examine a range of substantive issues of contemporary global importance including climate change; the conservation of biological diversity; the law of impact assessment; liability; international economic institutions and environmental protection; international trade, development & the environment; and the relationship between human rights and the environment.

    • Migration, Rights and Governance

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      The seductive term "crisis" describes the state of international migration today. This crisis demands action on the part of experts and it demands study so as to understand the legal and political processes these experts use to manage migration.

      This module explores migration management – or governance – as well as its legal, political and ethical connotations.

      You will look at global migration governance and rights, international migration trends, and at how the international community responds to refugees and displaced people using a rights-based approach. The course focuses on the use of rights language in migration management.

      A large part of this module will focus on Europe – a key destinations for migrants  – and the so-called ‘migrant crisis’. You will examine the broad themes of migration governance, rights, security, solidarity and mobility, and consider them through topics such as trafficking, immigration detention, relocation, deportation and criminal conviction.

      You will be asked to contribute your own knowledge, experience and personal interest in the area through a case study-style assessment that will rotate throughout the term.

    • Propaganda and the Law

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

    • The International Legal Regulation of Armed Conflict

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      This module subjects the international law of armed conflict to critical examination. Since 1945 states, international and regional organisations have used armed force in circumstances and for purposes unforeseen by the drafters of the United Nations Charter. This practice is evidence of the tension between the need for the international community to respond to new threats to international peace and security and the requirement that the use of armed force is limited by international legal controls. You will explore this practice and examine international legal rules relating to the conduct of armed force and international humanitarian law.

    • Women and Human Rights

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      This module is divided into two halves. The first half consists of core topics providing a theoretical framework for the study of women's human rights. You will draw on feminist legal theory, human rights theory, anthropological and historical materials and international and national rights instruments and documentation. The second half focuses on the conception, implementation, adherence and breach of a specific right or related rights. 

Find out about LLM degrees at the University of Sussex

Entry requirements

An upper second-class (2.1) undergraduate honours degree or above in law or a relevant subject (such as economics, finance, international relations, political science, history, criminology, criminal justice or sociology) but applicants from other backgrounds may be considered

English language requirements

Standard level (IELTS 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each section)

Find out about other English language qualifications we accept.

English language support

Don’t have the English language level for your course? Find out more about our pre-sessional courses.

Additional information for international students

We welcome applications from all over the world. Find out about international qualifications suitable for our Masters courses.

Pre-Masters in Law

Need to boost your academic skills for your taught course? Find out more about our Pre-Masters in Law.

Visas and immigration

Find out how to apply for a student visa

Fees and scholarships

How much does it cost?


Home: £7,700 per year

EU: £7,700 per year

Channel Islands and Isle of Man: £7,700 per year

Overseas: £15,100 per year

Note that your fees may be subject to an increase on an annual basis.

How can I fund my course?

Postgraduate Masters loans

Borrow up to £10,280 to contribute to your postgraduate study.

Find out more about Postgraduate Masters Loans


Our aim is to ensure that every student who wants to study with us is able to despite financial barriers, so that we continue to attract talented and unique individuals.

Chancellor’s Masters Scholarship (2017)

Open to students with a 1st class from a UK university or excellent grades from an EU university and offered a F/T place on a Sussex Masters in 2017

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Chancellor’s Masters Scholarship

Lady Monica Cockfield Scholarship (2017)

Two full UK/EU fee waivers for students who hold an offer of a place on the MA in European Governance and Policy.

Application deadline:

31 July 2017

Find out more about the Lady Monica Cockfield Scholarship

Sussex Graduate Scholarship (2017)

Open to Sussex students who graduate with a first or upper second-class degree and offered a full-time place on a Sussex Masters course in 2017

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex Graduate Scholarship

Sussex India Scholarships (2017)

Sussex India Scholarships are worth £3,500 and are for overseas fee paying students from India commencing Masters study in September 2017.

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex India Scholarships

Sussex Malaysia Scholarships (2017)

Sussex Malaysia Scholarships are worth £3,500 and are for overseas fee paying students from Malaysia commencing Masters study in September 2017.

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex Malaysia Scholarships

Sussex Nigeria Scholarships (2017)

Sussex Nigeria Scholarships are worth £3,500 or £5,000 and are for overseas fee paying students from Nigeria commencing a Masters in September 2017.

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex Nigeria Scholarships

Sussex Pakistan Scholarships (2017)

Sussex Pakistan Scholarships are worth £3,500 and are for overseas fee paying students from Pakistan commencing Masters study in September 2017.

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex Pakistan Scholarships

How Masters scholarships make studying more affordable

Living costs

Find out typical living costs for studying at Sussex.


The Sussex Centre for Human Rights Research was established to foster a vibrant research culture for human rights researchers within the Sussex Law School.

Our work has a global as well as national focus and we adopt a range of different approaches to human rights research, for example:

  • doctrinal
  • critical
  • theoretical
  • practical
  • interdisciplinary.

We hold regular research seminars, workshops and debates, which all students are welcome to attend. Listed below are faculty with particular expertise in human rights. 

  • Faculty profiles

    Dr Stephanie Berry
    Lecturer in Public Law

    Research interests: Freedom of Religion, International human rights, Minority Rights, Public international law, The European convention on human rights

    View profile

    Dr Kimberley Brayson
    Lecturer in Law

    Research interests: Critical Legal Theory, Feminist Legal Studies, Jurisprudence/Philosophy Of Law, The European convention on human rights

    View profile

    Dr Alex Conte
    Reader in Human Rights Law

    Research interests: Counter-terrorism, detention, fair trial, global security, International human rights, international humanitarian law, Public international law

    View profile

    Dr Elizabeth Craig
    Senior Lecturer

    Research interests: Bills of Rights, Constitutional Law, Culture, Identity, International human rights, Language rights, Minority Rights

    View profile

    Dr Gianluca Gentili
    Lecturer In Law

    Research interests: American Constitutional Law, Applied Constitutional Theory, Canadian Constitutional Law, Comparative Constitutional Law, Comparative Law, International human rights, Law and Society, Public international law, Rights of LGBTI People, Sub-national constitutionalism, UK constitutional law

    View profile

    Dr Sabrina Gilani
    Lecturer in Canadian Law

    Research interests: aboriginal rights, Critical Legal Theory, digital embodiment, Digital Humanities, legal geography, legal pluralism, Minority Rights, Postcolonial/Decolonial theory, posthumanism, Socio-legal theory, sociology of law, sociology of the body

    View profile

    Dr Alexander Latham
    Lecturer in Welfare Law

    Research interests: Constitutional Law, democracy, housing law, legal theory, political theory, Public Law, The European convention on human rights

    View profile

    Prof Susan Millns
    Professor of Law

    Research interests: citizenship, Comparative Law, Constitutional Law, European Union Law, Feminist Legal Studies, Human Rights

    View profile

    Dr Maria Moscati
    Lecturer in Family Law

    Research interests: Access to justice, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Cause Lawyering, Children's rights, Comparative Family Law, Comparative Law, Family Law, Law in Context, Rights of LGBTI People, Sexuality and the law

    View profile

    Dr Verona Ni Drisceoil
    Lecturer in Law

    Research interests: Culture and Identity Rights, FGM, Language Legislation, Language rights, law and culture, Minority Rights

    View profile

    Dr Aisling O'Sullivan
    Lecturer in Law

    Research interests: Critical approaches to international criminal law, History of International Criminal Law, Immunity of State Officials in International Criminal law, Universal Jurisdiction in International Law

    View profile

    Dr Amir Paz-Fuchs
    Senior Lecturer

    Research interests: Employment Law, legal theory, Privatisation and outsourcing, Social rights and social justice, Socio Legal Studies

    View profile

    Dr Charlotte Skeet
    Lecturer in Law

    Research interests: Post-colonial legal theory

    View profile


Graduate destinations

97% of students from Sussex Law School were in work or further study six months after graduating. Our graduates have gone on to jobs including:

  • associate lawyer, White and Case LLP
  • forensic assistant, International Criminal Court
  • parliamentary assistant, European Union.

(HESA EPI, Destinations of Post Graduate Leavers from Higher Education Survey 2015)

Your future career

This LLM is ideal if you wish to achieve a law-oriented postgraduate qualification in human rights and want to go on to a career in law or human rights advocacy.

The international and comparative nature of this course means that you will be well placed to seek employment in the UK and overseas in organisations such as:

  • international law firms
  • governments
  • international organisations
  • NGOs.

Working while you study

Our Careers and Employability Centre can help you find part-time work while you study. Find out more about career development and part-time work