Our PhD Human Rights was established to meet the demands of our students who have an established interest in human rights and wish to pursue doctoral research which goes beyond a single academic discipline but includes a distinct multi and interdisciplinary perspective.
Supervision is available across a broad range of academic interests in human rights and our research is wide-ranging and in-depth. You can search for a supervisor in an area of your choice by using our research finder tool, simply enter your research interests and browse the results for supervision opportunities. Topics include the prohibition against torture, business, freedom of religion, children in armed conflict, methods of democratic assessment, and the relationship between human rights and foreign direct investment. While our primary focus is international and comparative human rights, our research-active staff also encompass human rights and democracy in the UK.
We also offer an MPhil in this subject.
Please note, part-time research study is also available.
You will be allocated a supervisor whose role it is to guide you through the different stages of your research degree. In some cases, you may have joint supervision by two members of our staff.
The support provided by your supervisor is a key feature of your research student experience and you will have regular one-to-one meetings to discuss progress on your research. Initially, your supervisor will help you develop your research topic and plan.
Twice a year, you will have a supervisory board meeting, which provides a more formal opportunity to discuss your progress and agree your plans for the next six months.
Our Human Rights Centre has almost 50 academic staff members and 30 external fellows, we bring together some 250 scholars and practitioners across disciplines and courses, representing 50 nationalities. We organise and support a range of activities throughout the year and manage research projects on human rights, conflict prevention and promotion of democratic governance. In April 2000, along with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, we launched the Torture Reporting Handbook, which has been translated into numerous languages and is used throughout the world.
We are home to the UK member of the UN Human Rights Committee, and a member of the Government’s new Advisory Group on Human Rights. A number of our staff have also held senior positions in intergovernmental organisations and are actively involved in international practice.
Students can join the Human Rights Centre Affiliated Network, there are opportunities to network with like-minded people and it helps facilitate research collaboration. The network also runs events throughout the year.
Graduates of our Human Rights Centre go on to a variety of careers in the governmental, inter-governmental and non-governmental sectors, and undertake further research.
Our graduates now work for the Council of Europe, the United Nations, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Save the Children, Shelter, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Commission of Jurists.
You will need a good honours degree and a Masters degree, or equivalent, in a related subject. A well-developed research proposal is also essential.
You will normally be required to attend an interview/Skype interview for acceptance, and acceptance is subject to research expertise in the department.
We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.
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IELTS 7.0 (6.5 in writing, with a minimum of 5.5 remaining components)
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.
A research degree doesn't have a taught structure, giving you the chance to investigate your chosen topic in real depth and reach a profound understanding. In communicating that understanding, through a thesis or other means, you have a rare opportunity to generate knowledge. A research degree allows you to develop new high-level skills, enhance your professional development and build new networks. It can open doors to many careers.
We understand that deciding where and what to study is a very important decision for you. We’ll make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities as described on our website. However, if we need to make material changes, for example due to significant disruption, or in response to COVID-19, we’ll let our applicants and students know as soon as possible.
Components are the blocks of study that make up your course. A component may have a set module which you must study, or a number of modules from which you can choose.
Each component has a status and carries a certain number of credits towards your qualification.
|Status||What this means|
||You must take the set module for this component and you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
|Core with Options
||You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component but you must pass. No failure can be permitted.|
||You must take the set module for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.|
|Compulsory with Options
||You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
||You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.|
The modules that are available for you to choose for each component will depend on several factors, including which modules you have chosen for other components, which modules you have completed in previous years of your course, and which term the module is taught in.
Modules are the individual units of study for your course. Each module has its own set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria and also carries a certain number of credits.
In most cases you will study one module per component, but in some cases you may need to study more than one module. For example, a 30-credit component may comprise of either one 30-credit module, or two 15-credit modules, depending on the options available.
Modules may be taught at different times of the year and by a different department or school to the one your course is primarily based in. You can find this information from the module code. For example, the module code HR100-4-FY means:
The department or school the module will be taught by.
In this example, the module would be taught by the Department of History.
|The module number.||
The UK academic level of the module.
A standard undergraduate course will comprise of level 4, 5 and 6 modules - increasing as you progress through the course.
A standard postgraduate taught course will comprise of level 7 modules.
A postgraduate research degree is a level 8 qualification.
The term the module will be taught in.
Our PhD includes a number of formal study requirements and, if you have not previously studied human rights at Masters’ level, you will be required to attend the principal core module provided by our Human Rights Centre in order to develop a knowledge and understanding of multi and interdisciplinary perspectives upon the theory and application of human rights.
In addition, you will be expected to participate in our fortnightly meetings of our HRC Doctoral Affiliates’ Network, which comprises research student presentations and career development workshops. Finally, you have to demonstrate that you are progressing satisfactorily through your participation in regular progress meetings. During your second and third years, you continue your work towards your PhD.
Within our Human Rights Centre, your PhD thesis must normally be submitted for examination within four years of first registration. The maximum length for a PhD thesis by research is 80,000 words.
We hold open days for all our applicants throughout the year. Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex, and give you the chance to:
If the dates of our organised events aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.
You can apply for our postgraduate courses online. You’ll need to provide us with your academic qualifications, as well as supporting documents such as transcripts, English language qualifications and certificates. You can find a list of necessary documents online, but please note we won’t be able to process your application until we have everything we need.
There is no application deadline and we aim to respond to applications within four weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.
We encourage you to make a preliminary enquiry directly to a potential supervisor or the Graduate Administrator within your chosen Department or School. We encourage the consideration of a brief research proposal prior to the submission of a full application.
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At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.
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, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the 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 University would inform and engage with you if your course was to be discontinued, and would provide you with options, where appropriate, in line with our Compensation and Refund Policy.
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