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New Programme: Interdisciplinary Master’s Degree in Human Rights

Interdisciplinary Master’s Degree in Human Rights

Presented by the UFS Centre for Human Rights

From 2018, the centre will offer an interdisciplinary coursework master’s programme in Human Rights.

Why an interdisciplinary Human Rights master’s degree?

As the dominant moral language of our times, human rights occupies centre stage in influencing human relations in and across all social contexts, between nations and peoples, governments and citizens, minorities and majorities, individuals and groups, business and society, people and their environment, etc. Human rights has become the most prominent idiom in which claims of a common humanity and the basic conditions for a dignified existence are voiced. It is the bedrock of South Africa’s constitutional democracy and the reference point for conflicting aspirations regarding resources, rights, and protections. As such, it has permeated most disciplines; not just Law, but also the Health Sciences, Social Sciences, Economic and Management Sciences, Theology, the Humanities, and Education.

For whom?

Given the wide reach of human rights concerns, an advanced knowledge of human rights standards, decision making, violations, and methods of enforcement is not only of vital importance for legal professionals, but will enrich most professions, in both the public and private sector. The promotion and protection of human rights feature – as a constitutional imperative – in the planning, policy formulation, decision making, and public interaction of all public sector institutions, and increasingly occupy a focal point of business and commercial social responsibility agendas. In addition, a coursework master’s degree in Human Rights will be of great benefit to students who wish to pursue a career in one of the numerous human rights-related non-governmental organisations.  

The programme

Postgraduate study of human rights calls for a scholarly approach that accommodates and integrates the many different intellectual spaces in which human rights challenges are currently being posed. This recognition underlies the unique interdisciplinary character of our master’s degree in Human Rights. 

The programme is constructed in a way that makes it accessible to students coming from various academic disciplines. After acquiring a general orientation in the theoretical foundations of human rights and contemporary human rights critiques (module 1), the international human rights systems and important interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary perspectives on human rights (module 2), students can choose from a number of elective courses that best suit their individual preferences (module 3). The latter include human rights in domestic and international law, human rights and education, human rights and politics, environmental management and human rights, health and human rights, religion and human rights, human rights and development, and gender and human rights. A module in research methodology (module 4) prepares students for completing the mini dissertation (module 5).

Admission requirements

Students must:

(a)        be in possession of an honours degree (NQF exit level 8); or an equivalent qualification that will be found to be appropriate to pursue the proposed Master of Human Rights, e.g. a Bachelor of Laws; and

(b)       have obtained a weighted average of at least 60%.

Contact Information

Prof JL Pretorius


+27 51 401 2821


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