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Essex Human Rights Summer School

Summer School 2016

Photo's from last years summer school are available via our Facebook page

The Human Rights Centre will be offering its five day summer school in Human Rights Research Methods from 2 – 6 July 2018.

We are currently putting together an exciting teaching team of some of the leading Essex and external human rights academics and practitioners, all with extensive experience of researching and working on human rights issues in a wide range of contexts. The summer school is ideal for human rights professionals working in NGOs, government and international organisations; lawyers; academics and postgraduate students.

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We hope to see you at Essex in the summer!

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Contact us

For more information about the Essex Human Rights Summer School, please email

2018 Human Rights Summer School programme

Human Rights Research Methods

  • Overview

    We are delighted to announce the 2018 programme for the Human Rights Centre’s pioneering summer school on Human Rights Research Methods. Since the launch of the summer school in 2014, there has been growing recognition of the importance of paying attention to methodology in human rights research, especially with the increasing emphasis on evidence and on assessing and enhancing the impact of human rights. While academics, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and intergovernmental organisations such as the United Nations carry out vast amounts of research, very little attention has traditionally been paid to methodology in human rights. However, the strength, persuasiveness and legitimacy of research findings and, in turn, the ability of such findings to influence policy and practice will be greatly enhanced by methodological rigor. Run over 5 days, the Research Methods summer school provides the core methods and skills needed to carry out human rights research whether for academic scholarship, bids for large research projects or reports for NGOs, governments and international organisations. Participants will learn how to design research projects and carry them out both in a headquarters environment or while working in the field. They will learn about the range of tools and methodologies for human rights research (whether academic or practical) and when, why and how to employ particular research methods in specific research contexts. The summer school not only focuses on documenting human rights violations using qualitative and quantitative research methods but it also addresses questions of how to measure the impact and effectiveness of policies and practices based on human rights. It is an essential course for postgraduate students, academics, lawyers and human rights professionals working in NGOs, government and international organisations. Participants in previous years have expressed strong satisfaction with the content and the delivery of the programme and the demand for places has remained high.

    "These are exactly the types of skills needed by researchers in NGOs and in the UN and other international organisations. Knowing the Human Rights Centre, I am confident that it will deliver a summer school that is not only strong in academic content but very relevant and applicable to practical contexts."
    Ian Martin, former Secretary General of Amnesty International and head of UN human rights missions and peace operations in Rwanda, East Timor, Nepal and Libya

  • Learning outcomes

    Taught by an international faculty of experts in the field, all sessions will focus on research design, methodology and impact and will examine relevant examples and case-studies. The programme also includes dedicated sessions on particular projects to develop the themes of research design, methodology and impact in greater depth. As an interactive summer school, it will afford participants many opportunities to apply the theory they have learned, including through dedicated sessions in which participants will be given a problem ahead of the session and asked to prepare the research questions, methodology and impact strategy. Participants will have the opportunity to receive feedback on existing research plans in one-on-one clinics throughout the school.

    In taking this course, participants will:

    • acquire a strong understanding of the key methods used in human rights research and the way in which they can be used on their own or in combination (mixed methods);
    • learn to design research projects with a strong methodology, including for grant applications and to have optimal impact on policy and practice;
    • attain a strong understanding of how to ensure that the research meets ethical standards including in NGOs without ethics committees;
    • gain a strong appreciation of qualitative interviewing techniques including issues involved with interviewing victims and affected communities and carrying out research on sensitive human rights topics;
    • learn how to interpret data gained through interviews;
    • become ‘literate’ in carrying out quantitative research and collecting, processing and using data;
    • understand how to do research in different countries and researching in closed and challenging societies;
    • learn how to design and carry out comparative country research
    • learn about emerging methods such as experiments and the use of social media; and
    • understand how to measure the impact of policies and practices based on human rights

  • Teaching team

    The summer school will be taught by a combination of Essex and external human rights academics and practitioners. The team includes:

    • Judith Bueno de Mesquita, School of Law & Deputy Director, Human Rights Centre Clinic.
    • Dr Richard Carver, Senior Lecturer in Human Rights and Governance, CENDEP, Oxford Brookes University (tbc)
    • Barbora Cernusakova, Researcher at Amnesty International and University of Manchester
    • Dr Cosette Creamer, Benjamin E. Lippincott Chair in Political Economy & Assistant Professor of Political Science, Department of Political Science and School of Law, University of Minnesota.
    • Sam Dubberly, Human Rights, Big Data and Technology Project, University of Essex
    • Dr Carla Ferstman,Senior Lecturer, School of Law, Former Director of REDRESS.
    • Dr Lisa Handley, Visiting Research Academic, CENDEP, Oxford Brookes University
    • Professor Paul Hunt,Human Rights Centre and School of Law, University of Essex and former Senior Human Rights Advisor to the World Health Organization Assistant Director-General; UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health and Rapporteur of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
    • Dr Patrick Lown,EssexLab, Department of Government, University of Essex.
    • Esther Major, Consultant for WHO & former Researcher/Adviser at Amnesty International
    • Professor Lorna McGregor, School of Law, Director Human Rights Centre & Co-Director, Human Rights, Big Data and Technology Project. Member, Equality and Human Rights Commission.
    • Dr Róisín Ryan-Flood, Department of Sociology, University of Essex
    • Professor Clara Sandoval, Human Rights Centre, Director, Essex Transitional Justice Network, School of Law, University of Essex.
    • Dr Ahmed Shaheed, Human Rights Centre & School of Law, University of Essex. UN Special Rapporteur on the Freedom of Religion or Belief (2016-19)
    • Dr Gary Williams, Research Development Manager, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Essex.

  • Teaching sessions

    The sessions for the 2018 Summer School will be confirmed shortly.

Fees and booking

  • Fees and booking

    The fees for the 2018 summer school is as follows:

    • University of Essex students, staff and alumni: £820 (£738 with early bird discount)
    • External participants: £950 (£855.00 with early bird discount)

    Early bird discount (10%) will be available until Sunday, 20 May 2018

    Also included within the course fee, is tea and coffee/lunch refreshments during breaks each day of the course, and a welcome dinner on the first evening (Monday).

    Please book your place via the online booking facility.

    Please note that accommodation is not included in this fee. Please see below for more information.

    Any questions, please contact

  • Accommodation

    Colchester Campus accommodation for our Summer School will need to be booked separately at a fee of £55 per night, bed & breakfast.

    To book accommodation, please go to and type in the promotional code HRC2018 to ensure you receive the discounted rate applicable to Human Rights Summer School participants.

  • Cancellation policy

    Please Note Conditions of Booking: If you can no longer attend and need to cancel your place, please do so as soon as possible, so that it can be offered to someone else.

    Attendees who cancel a previously booked place on the Essex Human Rights Summer School after 20 May 2018 will be liable for 100% of the course fees.

    The Human Rights Centre reserves the right to withdraw sessions due to staff absence or low enrolment numbers.

How to get here and campus access

The Essex Human Rights Summer School takes place at our University's Colchester campus. Colchester is an hour away from London by train. See our information pages for further details of how to get here.


There may be a University photographer present at our events, please let us know if you would not like to appear in any pictures by making yourself known at the beginning of the event. Any general crowd photos may be used for marketing purposes.