This is the only Human Rights and Diplomacy programme in the world taught in partnership with the leading training body of the United Nations: the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). During this one-year Master’s, you will be taught both by top human rights researchers using academic work they have published, and by experienced human rights practitioners from the UN.
Rare opportunity to apply, with UNITAR’s tailored support and guidance, for highly desirable, hard-to-get internships in the UN Agencies.
There will be a similar opportunity to establish and secure a placement directly with a local or national human rights body such as a national human rights institution or NGO engaged in the Human Rights Research Knowledge Exchange Network based in the University of Stirling. Students can choose to pursue a human rights related project with such an organisation or undertake a traditional academic dissertation as a potential pathway to pursuing a PhD programme.
Course Directors Dr Katie Boyle and Professor Rowan Cruft are widely-published in the areas of human rights and diplomacy.
Dr Boyle’s monograph on Economic and Social Rights: Justiciability and Principles of Adjudication will be published with Routledge in 2019. She has published widely on economic, social and cultural rights, incorporation, justiciability and models of constitutionalisation including in the International Journal of Human Rights. Her research has been adopted by national human rights institutions and has featured in UN Committee level proceedings. Katie recently published a report with the Scottish Human Rights Commission on Models of Incorporation and Justiciability for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. She qualified as a solicitor with the Government Legal Service and was appointed to advise the First Minister on the FM Advisory Group on Human Rights Leadership in 2018.
Professor Rowan Cruft was co-editor of Oxford University Press’s 2015 volume, Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights, and his monograph, Human Rights, Ownership, and the Individual will be published by Oxford University Press in 2019.
A minimum of a second class honours degree or equivalent. Applicants without these formal qualifications but with significant appropriate/relevant work/life experience are encouraged to apply.
If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:
In order to be considered for the internship applicants will need English language skills of IELTS 7.0 (6.5 in each band). Students will be expected to negotiate and communicate at the highest level, and therefore this level of language proficiency is required for the internship.
If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this course, our partner INTO University of Stirling offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for entry to this degree.
Find out more about our pre-sessional English language courses.
The programme offers a unique combination of theory and practice: alongside modules introducing students to human rights law and politics, the UN human rights institutions, their history and their philosophical foundations, students will be given practical training from experienced UN personnel in transferrable diplomacy skills such as negotiating, drafting documents, and learning how to make a difference.
The module details given below are subject to change as the University regularly revises and refreshes the curriculum of our taught programmes. The modules outlined below represent those offered in 2019/20 on this course of study.
For the legal, political and philosophical parts of the programme, your teachers will be top academic researchers: in pursuing their modules, you will be encouraged both to learn the latest legal, political and philosophical positions, and to develop your own analyses. The optional modules allow you to explore human rights and diplomacy within broader settings. For the practical training, your teachers will be experienced UN practitioners who will use simulation exercises, role play and case studies to help you gain negotiating skills. All teaching will involve a mixture of group work, with the exception of the one-to-one discussions and training used to help students decide whether (and where) to apply for an internship, and the similar focused discussions for those who opt for the academic dissertation.
Students taking the internship or professional project will have both a Stirling and a UNITAR mentor. Detailed preparation and guidance – including assistance applying, and preparation for interviews – will be offered in advance of the internships and projects, as part of the Preparation for Independent Work module. Students taking the dissertation will have a primary supervisor with expertise in the student’s chosen specialism.
The Approaches to Human Rights module will introduce students to a very wide range of approaches to human rights, and will also involve sessions aimed at allowing students to share their own varied human rights and/or academic experiences, including allowing students from a professional background to compare their views with those of recent graduates.
The Geneva Study Trip will provide the opportunity for a first-hand professional immersion within the United Nations and Geneva’s multilateral working environments. Students will learn more about the main decision makers and will have a unique opportunity to meet practitioners from the major institutions, including from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Human Rights Council as well as other institutions, enabling them to strengthen their knowledge of the UN System and other international organizations working on Human Rights matters. The content of the study visit will be customized to meet the needs of the student and can include meetings with senior officials from the UN agencies situated in Geneva in the fields of peace, security and disarmament; trade, economic and labour affairs; environment and sustainable development; health, intellectual property, science and telecommunication; and humanitarian law, human rights and migration.
Academic modules will be assessed by coursework and some graded groupwork. Modules focused on practice and skills will similarly be assessed by reflective coursework and practical assessment. A range of assessments will be used and will measure achievement of learning outcomes. The assessment criteria will be set out in advance of each assignment. The internship and academic project will be assessed partly by means of a post-project self-reflective report written by the student, and partly by reports on the student’s performance offered by the internship/project provider.
You will receive feedback on coursework within three weeks of completion of the assessment. Feedback is usually provided electronically on formal coursework. Feedback and guidance sessions with teaching staff are available on all modules. These provide regular opportunities to discuss feedback further. See more information about feedback on assessment.
Dr Katie Boyle is an expert in international human rights law, and in particular economic social and cultural rights. Dr Boyle’s monograph on Economic and Social Rights: Justiciability and Principles of Adjudication will be published with Routledge in 2019. She has published widely on economic, social and cultural rights, incorporation, justiciability and models of constitutionalisation including in the International Journal of Human Rights. Her research has been adopted by national human rights institutions and has featured in UN Committee level proceedings. Katie recently published a report with the Scottish Human Rights Commission on Models of Incorporation and Justiciability for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Scotland. She qualified as a solicitor with the Government Legal Service and was appointed to advise the First Minister on the FM Advisory Group on Human Rights Leadership in 2018.
Professor Rowan Cruft is an expert in Ethics, Human Rights, Rights: Justification of and Public sphere and participation. He was co-editor of Oxford University Press’s 2015 volume, Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights, and his monograph, Human Rights, Ownership, and the Individual will be published by Oxford University Press in 2019.
Fees shown are for full-time, one-year Masters course*
If you’re domiciled in Scotland, you may be eligible to apply to the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS) for a loan of up to £10,000 to cover your tuition fees and associated living costs. Students domiciled in the EU can also apply for tuition fee support, although may not be eligible to receive funding to support living costs.
If you're domiciled in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, you should be eligible to apply for a loan from your regional body.
English students apply for a loan of up to £10,609 per year as part of the UK Postgraduate Loan Scheme, Welsh students can apply for a non-means tested loan of up to £13,000 from the Welsh Government and Northern Irish students are eligible to apply for support of up to £5,500.
*Fees for students who apply for a Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate will be paid on a pro-rata basis.
If the course is taken over two years then the fee will be split evenly over the two years. Fees are not pro-rated for students who enrol on a Masters course and decide to exit with a Postgraduate Diploma – the full fee is charged.
Fees shown are for full-time, one-year Masters course. Fees for students who apply for a Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate will be paid on a pro-rata basis.
If the course is taken over two years then the fee will be split evenly over the two years. Fees are not pro-rated for students who enrol on a Masters course and decide to exit with a Postgraduate Diploma - the full fee is charged.
Please note: The fees detailed above include the travel and accommodation for the study trip to Geneva.
There are some instances where additional fees may apply. Depending on your chosen course, you may need to pay additional costs, for example for field trips. Learn more about additional fees.
If you’re domiciled in the UK, you can typically apply to your relevant funding body for help with living costs. This usually takes the form of student loans, grants or bursaries, and the amount awarded depends upon your personal circumstances and household income.
EU and overseas students won’t normally be able to claim living support through SAAS or other UK public funding bodies. You should contact the relevant authority in your country to find out if you’re eligible to receive support.
We aim to be as flexible as possible, and offer a wide range of payment methods - including the option to pay fees by instalments. Learn more about how to pay
Our MSc Human Rights and Diplomacy course has a strong focus on employability.
Students who successfully undertake an internship or professional project will gain hands-on experience of human rights diplomacy, backed up by the academic theoretical and legal knowledge developed in the spring and summer modules. Students will also be well placed to pursue an academic career by continuing onto PhD or commensurate research career possibilities, a route that will be further supported by undertaking the traditional academic dissertation.
Work in the UN institutions or in NGOs are clear options for graduates of this course, and the networked development of the internship or professional project you apply for will be coordinated by UNITAR and Stirling staff together as a strong route into such employment. Likewise, graduates of the programme will be well placed for employment in the private sector. There is an increasing focus on business and human rights and companies seeking to align with international best practice, including compliance with the Sustainable Development Goals and international human rights obligations. Graduates in both human rights and diplomacy will be best placed as future leaders in terms of emerging best practice.
Through this programme, you will become reflective practitioners with an in-depth knowledge of current issues and developments within human rights. You will display the attributes necessary to thrive in the work place, with highly developed communication, team-working and problem-solving skills gained through practical work informed by critical analysis and in-depth specialist knowledge.