13 March 2018 Photo Stephen Collet
Interdisciplinary master programme in human rights launched at UFS
Back row (from left): Aphiwe Ntoyi and Marita van Kraayenburg, Prof Rian enter.Second row (from left): Nduvho Nesengani Davhana, Tembisa Leeuw andDonnae Sandt, Dionne Van Reenen, Marlize Ramsden, Rev Martin LaubscherFront row (from left): Dr Mwiza Nkhata,Penelope Nhlapo, Prof Loot Pretorius,Sikelela Ndlazi Ndlazi, and Ofentse Seate.

The Free State Centre for Human Rights at the University of the Free State (UFS) Faculty of Law launched a new interdisciplinary master’s degree programme in human rights in the 2018 academic year. The interdisciplinary focus of the programme is unique and it is currently the only one of its kind in the country.

Prof Jan Pretorius, Coordinator: Postgraduate Programmes and Research at the Centre, said the programme is constructed in such a way that makes it accessible to students coming from various academic disciplines, making it dynamic and attractive in modern academia. 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 includes 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).

The Centre received a large number of applications for the programme and started off with 12 selected to make up the first cohort of 2018. With the recent appointment of a new director (Prof Danie Brand) and the further expansion of the Centre’s ranks, more students will be accommodated from 2019 onwards. The students were welcomed at a first meeting on 19 February. The highlight of the occasion was a guest lecture on the African human rights system by Prof Mwiza Nkhata, from the University of Malawi, and postdoctoral fellow at the Free State Centre for Human Rights. He shared his ideas on the evolution of the system, its achievements and challenges.