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Human Rights and Cultural Diversity

Course overview

(MA) Master of Arts
Human Rights and Cultural Diversity
University of Essex
University of Essex
Human Rights Centre
Colchester Campus
Full-time or part-time
MA M90124

Admission to the MA requires the possession of the minimum of a high 2.2 undergraduate degree. We accept undergraduate degrees from across a range of social and political sciences, law and degrees in any of the recognised humanities subjects. Students with undergraduate degrees in the natural sciences, engineering or medicine may be also be admitted subject to their ability to demonstrate a commitment to human rights through professional or voluntary work or activity.

IELTS 6.5 overall with a minimum component score of 5.5 except for 6.0 in writing

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

Additional Notes

The University uses academic selection criteria to determine an applicant’s ability to successfully complete a course at the University of Essex. Where appropriate, we may ask for specific information relating to previous modules studied or work experience.

Please refer to the full time version of this course for information on Core and Compulsory modules.

External Examiners

Dr Thomas Pegram
University College London
Associate Professor

External Examiners provide an independent overview of our courses, offering their expertise and help towards our continual improvement of course content, teaching, learning, and assessment. External Examiners are normally academics from other higher education institutions, but may be from the industry, business or the profession as appropriate for the course. They comment on how well courses align with national standards, and on how well the teaching, learning and assessment methods allow students to develop and demonstrate the relevant knowledge and skills needed to achieve their awards. External Examiners who are responsible for awards are key members of Boards of Examiners. These boards make decisions about student progression within their course and about whether students can receive their final award.

eNROL, the module enrolment system, is now open until Monday 21 October 2019 8:59AM, for students wishing to make changes to their module options.


Core You must take this module You must pass this module. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options You can choose which module to study
Compulsory You must take this module There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.
Compulsory with Options You can choose which module to study
Optional You can choose which module to study

Year 1 - 2019/20

Exit Award Status
Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Credits PG Diploma PG Certificate
01 HU901-7-FY Human Rights: Theories and Applications Core 30 Core Core
02 Options year 1 Optional 30 Optional Optional

Year 2 - 2020/21

Exit Award Status
Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Credits PG Diploma PG Certificate
01 HU983-7-FY Dissertation: Ma Human Rights and Cultural Diversity Core 60
02 Options year 2 Core with Options 0 Optional Optional

Exit awards

A module is given one of the following statuses: 'core' – meaning it must be taken and passed; 'compulsory' – meaning it must be taken; or 'optional' – meaning that students can choose the module from a designated list. The rules of assessment may allow for limited condonement of fails in 'compulsory' or 'optional' modules, but 'core' modules cannot be failed. The status of the module may be different in any exit awards which are available for the course. Exam Boards will consider students' eligibility for an exit award if they fail the main award or do not complete their studies.

Programme aims

The programme aims to: give students the opportunities to study current theoretical and practical problems in the recognition and protection of human rights.

These problems are legal, social, political and philosophical, and the programme reflects this in its multidisciplinary approach.

In contrast to the other existing PG human rights courses offered at Essex, the MA in Human Rights and Cultural Diversity will examine human rights specifically in relation to cultural diversity.

This MA enables students who have a particular interest in this specialised area of study and expertise to develop a deeper and broader knowledge and understanding of central issues and debates surrounding the application and justification of human rights within a culturally complex and diverse world.

Prepare students for such careers as e.g. officials in the United Nations system, activists in humanitarian and policy-making non-governmental bodies in the UK and abroad, as journalists, or trade unionists, policy analysts and researchers.

The course aims to prepare students for further independent research in the field of Human Rights

Learning outcomes and learning, teaching and assessment methods

On successful completion of the programme a graduate should demonstrate knowledge and skills as follows:

A: Knowledge and understanding

A1 Achieve a knowledge and understanding of issues concerning the application of human rights within Asia and/or Africa. Students will particularly learn to analyse and evaluate political conflict associated with the defence of human rights in these regions
A2 Achieve a knowledge and understanding of global and regional human rights institutions. These include intergovernmental, governmental and civil society institutions
A3 Examines the influence of cultural conditions in the justification, promotion and critique of human rights. Students will engage with fundamental debates and issues. They will learn to assess and evaluate different perspectives upon the relationship between human rights and culture
A4 Students will learn the historical development of so-called Third Generation rights and evaluate the issues they raise for the defence of human rights in a globally complex environment
A5 Students will learn the historical development of so-called Third Generation rights and evaluate the issues they raise for the defence of human rights in a globally complex environment
A6 Students will achieve a knowledge and understanding of the source of controversial issues raised by different disciplinary perspectives upon human rights. They will learn to assess these
A7 Achieve a knowledge and understanding of different perspectives upon jurisprudential issues in relation to social differences
A8 Students will learn to identify and evaluate central and recurring problems in the promotion of human rights within a culturally diverse context
A9 Assess and evaluate the role of religion in the development of human rights
Learning Methods: Learning methods Skills 1-9 will be developed through lecture, class and seminar sessions.

HU901 addresses each of these skills.

Core courses focus upon particular aspects of the skills.
Assessment Methods: Assessment methods Skills 1-9 will be formally assessed through coursework essays, take-home exam papers and, end-of- year examinations.

B: Intellectual and cognitive skills

B1 Develop a clear and coherent understanding of politically and legally complex issues, even when information is incomplete
B2 communicate their conclusions clearly
B3 demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and in collecting and commenting on complex information
B4 demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and in collecting and commenting on complex information
Learning Methods: Skill 1 is developed in all courses, but especially in HU901:

Colloquium by means of e.g.
Discussion of different country case studies, or discussions of draft clauses of human rights documents or declarations for some of the 3rd generation rights Skill 2 is developed in all courses and in HU901: Colloquium by means of seminar discussion, role-play exercises, assigned oral presentations or all three

Skills 3 and 4 are developed through the exercise of selecting and pursuing a dissertation topic that addresses both the theoretical and practical aspects of human rights in a particular country or region, or in a particular sector of human rights activity, such as election monitoring or peace-keeping.

The Scheme Director is present during all of the Colloquium classes and most of the remaining courses include class and discussion groups overseen by the relevant tutors.

Class and seminar discussions are facilitated by these means.
Assessment Methods: Skills 1 and 2 are formally assessed through essay and dissertation marking.

Skills 3 and 4 are formally assessed through the marking of dissertations, and informally assessed in supervisory sessions during the preparation of dissertations.

C: Practical skills

C1 retrieve, evaluate and select for relevance and credibility, information from a range of international sources.
C2 plan, undertake and report a bibliographically based piece of research
C3 develop techniques for assessing theoretical proposals as well as practical procedures, whether legal or customary
Learning Methods: All graduates receive training from a trained Subject Librarian in the use of legal and other databases relevant to human rights, as well as the resources of a research library.

All graduates learn how to use these databases unaided, and how to incorporate results in essay and dissertation material.

Sessions are held in the Colloquium during the Spring and Summer terms devoted to training in the preparation of dissertations in the core course disciplines and criteria for the selection of dissertation topics.

Some sessions of the Colloquium allow students to present their ideas for dissertations to the others taking the MA Skills 1, 2, and 3 are developed through formal supervision and marking of dissertations, as well as comments and marking of coursework essays
Assessment Methods: Assessment consists of essay and dissertation marking

D: Key skills

D1 communicate effectively at the appropriate level with appropriate audiences
D2 (i) apply the techniques of several different bodies of theory and practice to the same cases and practical situations and (ii) recognise some of the marks of successful and failed decision-making in complex conflict situations
D3 N/A
D4 exercise initiative and learn independently
D5 Class and seminar-based activities require collaborative exercises and problem-solving
Learning Methods: Skill 1: All courses require students to participate actively in discussion, and to co-operate with colleagues in arriving at shared results on exercises.

All core courses require students to work independently on essays, and there is a dissertation component.

Skill 4: Students cannot graduate from the MA in only a single discipline.

The exposure to more than one discipline enables them to enter into different systematic approaches to a single problem.

Skill 4 (i) There is an emphasis in the Colloquium and in most of the core courses on case studies that illustrate the practical and political realities of human rights work.
Assessment Methods: Skills 1 and 4 are assessed through class-based work and discussion Skill 6 is assessed through course work and dissertation marking, and in feedback on class-based work in the Colloquium


The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.

Should you have any questions about programme specifications, please contact Course Records, Quality and Academic Development; email: