Attend an Open Evening

International Politics and Human Rights  MA


On City's International Politics & Human Rights MA you will study the development of human rights, the way they have altered international politics and how rights influence current events.

This MA gives you a theoretically and historically informed understanding of the role of human rights in contemporary politics. You will develop a strong grasp of contemporary global issues, enabling you to view world events from an informed and knowledgeable position.

The course will prepare you for a career in human rights organisations, NGOs, government agencies, international organisations, journalism and other fields requiring a critical understanding of international politics.

Frequently asked questions

Entry Requirements:

You should have a first or upper second class honours (or equivalent) degree in politics, the social sciences, humanities or law.


Course Fees:

  • Full-time EU: £9,500
  • Part-time EU: £5,250 per year
  • Full-time Non EU: £15,000
  • Part-time Non EU: £7,500 per year

Start Date:

September 2016

How to Apply

Entry Requirements

You should have a first or upper second class honours (or equivalent) degree in politics, the social sciences, humanities or law.However, we also welcome applications from those with substantial experience in human rights organisations, NGOs, social services, journalism and other related sectors.

Other Suitable Qualifications

Postgraduate Preparatory Courses for International Students

If you do not qualify for direct entry, our partner INTO City University London offers an academic preparation programme - the Graduate Diploma in Business, Law and Social Science. The course offers a route to City University London through an excellent teaching and learning experience, located in purpose built study facilities. Successful completion of the Graduate Diploma at INTO City University London to the standard required provides guaranteed progression to this Masters degree.

English Requirements

If your first language is not English one of the following qualifications is also required:

  • IELTS: an overall score of 6.5 (with a minimum of 6.0 for each sub-test)

INTO English Language Programmes

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this course, INTO City University London offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for entry to this degree.

Please click the links below for more information:

Please note that due to changes in the UKVI's list of SELTs we are no longer able to accept TOEFL as evidence of English language for students who require a CAS as of April 2014.

Visa Requirements

If you are not from the European Economic Area / Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK you may need to apply for a visa or entry clearance to come to the UK to study.  

The way that you apply may vary depending on the length of your course; there are different rules for:

  • Students on courses of more than 6 months
  • Students on courses of less than 6 months
  • Students on a pre-sessional English Language course

Please note: If you require a Tier 4 student visa to study in the UK, you cannot undertake any City University London courses on a part-time basis.

For more information see our main Visa page.

When and Where

Start Date:
September 2016
Full-time - one year. Part-time - two years (with an additional three months to submit dissertation, if required)

Course Content

The MA places human rights in the context of a constellation of changes in international politics in the 20th and 21st centuries, and you are introduced to the historical and political controversies that human rights generate:

  • Do human rights offer universal protections, or do they provide ideological cover for neo-imperialist powers?
  • Can human rights provide protection to individuals in a way that supersedes the nation-state, or do they serve the interests of powerful states?
  • Should human rights be concerned with the minimalist needs of security and subsistence, or should they aspire to grander visions of global justice?

Course Structure

You will complete six taught modules: three compulsory core modules and three electives. You will also take part in a dissertation workshop and produce a dissertation over the summer.

Core modules

  • Human rights and the transformation of world politics

This module provides you with an advanced overview of the theory, history and practice of human rights, with a focus on how the development of human rights has changed the nature of world politics in the 20th and 21st centuries. Specifically, you will look at the key intellectual advances and political events that have shaped the idea of universal human rights, while focusing on the way in which the meaning of human rights is contested and how the idea of human rights has been shaped by existing power structures. Through a detailed study of the theory, history and practice of human rights you will explore key controversies in the field and develop critical thinking and writing skills, as well as a detailed knowledge of the place of human rights in contemporary world politics.

  • Global ethics: principles, power and politics

International Politics raises distinctive ethical concerns - of violence, hospitality and solidarity across borders - and has been seen as different from domestic politics, such that it requires its own ethics. This module seeks to introduce you to the traditions of ethical thought in International Politics by looking at pressing issues faced in today's world. The course takes the transformation of world politics in the mid-20th century as a key moment in order to critically examine both the degree to which International Politics has become more ethical and the ways that our understanding of global ethics influences our practical responses to issues like the development of human rights, new practices of humanitarian intervention, global poverty, the development of international criminal law and the creation of new forms of transnational and supranational political authority. The module aims to balance philosophical reflection on the nature of global ethics with practical engagement in contemporary political events.

  • International Politics research workshop

This module will help you to develop a research proposal for your International Politics dissertation. You will examine issues related to the 'what' and 'how' of research: what kinds of questions can we ask and how should we pursue our research? You will also explore issues such as how to design a research project and examine the role of case studies, different methods of evidence collection (interviewing, archives, surveys), and the relationship between theory and the practice of research.

  • International Politics dissertation

You are required to submit a dissertation of 15,000 words. The dissertation is worth 60 credits (one-third of your overall mark).

You will start work on the project in the second term, with a Research Workshop which will help you develop the necessary skills for undertaking independent research. In the summer term, you will work full time on completing the final dissertation, which will be due by the end of September. The dissertation offers you the opportunity to reflect on and communicate knowledge gained through research and allows you to complement your module work by writing on a topic relevant to your specific interests.

Elective modules

Choose four from:

Modules taught by International Politics

  • Understanding security in the 21st century
  • International organisations in global politics
  • Theories of international politics
  • Development and international politics
  • Religion in Global Politics
  • Global political economy
  • Political economy of global finance
  • The politics of forced displacement and resettlement
  • Global civil society
  • Governing global politics
  • International politics of the Middle East
  • Global transformations
  • International financial institutions
  • Strategy, diplomacy and decision-making
  • US foreign policy
  • Foreign policy analysis
  • Economic diplomacy

Modules taught by Law

  • International human rights in law & practice

Please note:The above-listed modules may be subject to change before or during the course of your studies. The modules on offer may vary from year to year depending on staff availability and student demand.

Read the full 2015 programme specification.

Teaching and Assessment


You will be taught through a mixture of lectures, seminars, student presentations and practical workshops. Teaching is supported by a personal tutorial and supervision system and a general lecture series with outside speakers (both professional and academic).

You will complete 120 credits of taught modules, made up of a mixture of compulsory core and elective options. You will also take part in a dissertation workshop and produce your dissertation over the summer period.


Each taught module is assessed by an essay, either a 5,000-word essay for 30 credit modules or a 3,000-word essay for 15 credit modules. There are no examinations. Your final MA marks are derived from a combination of your essay and dissertation grades.

You are required to submit a dissertation of 15,000 words in an area linked to the MA degree. Your dissertation topic will be agreed with your personal tutor/supervisor.

Teaching staff

All our academic staff are actively involved in postgraduate teaching. Find out more about them (including Course Director Dr Joe Hoover) by reading their individual staff profiles.

Sample course materials

If you are new to the subject, you might like to look at:

  • Brooke Ackerly, Universal Human Rights in a World of Difference (Cambridge University Press, 2008)
  • Tim Dunne and Nicholas J. Wheeler (eds.), Human Rights in Global Politics (Cambridge University Press, 1999)
  • Mark Goodale and Sally Merry Engle (eds.), The Practice of Human Rights: Tracking Law Between the Global and the Local (Cambridge University Press, 2007)
  • Paul Gordon Lauren, The Evolution of International Human Rights: Visions Seen (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003)
  • Samuel Moyn, The Last Utopia (Harvard University Press, 2010)
  • Makau Mutua, Human Rights: A Political and Cultural Critique (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002).

Further online resources that might be of interest:

Read the full 2015 programme specification.


  • Full-time EU: £9,500
  • Part-time EU: £5,250 per year
  • Full-time Non EU: £15,000
  • Part-time Non EU: £7,500 per year


For up-to-date information about tuition fees, living costs and financial support, visit Postgraduate Fees and Finance.

Future Finance Loans

Future Finance offers students loans of between £2,500 and £40,000 to help cover tuition fees and living expenses. All students and courses are considered. All loans are subject to credit checks and approval for further details please visit the City Finance website.


Career Prospects

The skills of International Politics graduates are of direct relevance to a wide range of professions:

  • Research,
  • Civil service,
  • Teaching,
  • Media communications,
  • Journalism,
  • International organisations,
  • Non-governmental organisations,
  • International finance and the private sector.

80% of City's 2011 International Politics graduates were in employment or further study 6 months after graduation. Employers included UNESCO, the Open Rights Group, the Grass Roots Group, and the United Nations.

International Politics Career Day

During your MA year you can attend the Department's 'International Politics Careers Day' which explores career opportunities with International Politics degrees and provides:

  • talks by speakers within the field (including City alumni). Previous speakers have included staff from the Department for International Development, the Ministry of Justice, UNESCO, the EU Commission and the UN Peacebuilding Support  Office (PBSO).
  • talks by careers consultants and volunteering coordinators
  • CV, applications and volunteering drop-in sessions with careers professionals.

You can also make use of the University's Career & Skills Development Service.

Read about how careers advice and volunteering helped one of our graduates land her current job.

Application Deadline

There is no fixed application deadline. Applications will close when the course is full, so you are encouraged to apply early.

MA International Politics and Human Rights

Please submit:

  • A completed application form (either electronically or by post)
  • A certified copy of your undergraduate academic results and degree certificate
  • Proof of English proficiency (if you are not a native English speaker, or someone who has not been taught in English for their first degree subject)

Academic references are not required when you submit your application. However, the admissions tutor may request them at a later date to help make a decision on your application.

You are encouraged to apply online and either upload or email scanned copies of their supporting documents for convenience.

The application form and reference form can also be downloaded via the following link:

Return the completed form to:
Amber Jones
City University London
Northampton Square
United Kingdom
Telephone: +44(0)20 7040 4567