Masters of Science in Human Rights and Diplomacy

In this master's, students will learn about the practice and theory of human rights laws and politics as well as the history and philosophy behind the UN human rights institutions. Students will be taught by leading experts and will be given practical training from experienced UN personnel.


SDG4: Quality education
SDG16: Peace, justice and strong institutions
Human Rights and Diplomacy
human rights

In this master’s programme, you will learn about the practice and theory of human rights laws and politics, the UN human rights institutions, their history, and their philosophical foundations. You will be taught by top human rights researchers and will be given practical training in negotiating draft documents and learning how to make a difference from experienced UN personnel.

This MSc degree includes a study visit to Geneva for all students to observe the Human Rights Council in session. In the final three months of the programme, students may choose between seeking a highly desirable internship, pursuing projects with human rights organisations, or tackling a traditional dissertation. Conducted in partnership with the leading training body of the United Nations, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), this is the only Human Rights and Diplomacy programme in the world.

For the legal, political, and philosophical parts of the degree, your teachers will be top academic researchers. In pursuing their modules, you will be encouraged to learn about the latest legal, political, and philosophical positions as well as 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, apart from the one-to-one discussions and training used to help students decide whether (and where) to apply for an on-the-job placement, and the similar focused discussions for those who opt for the academic dissertation.

Students taking the on-the-job placement 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 on-the-job placement 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 specialty.

The Approaches to Human Rights module will introduce students to a wide range of approaches to human rights. This module will include 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.

A minimum of a second class honours degree (2.1 preferred) or equivalent is normally required. Applicants without these formal qualifications but with significant relevant 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:

  • IELTS 6.5 with 6.0 in reading and writing and 5.5 in speaking and listening;
  • Cambridge C1 Advanced (CAE) 176 overall with a minimum of 169 in reading and writing and with 162 in speaking and listening;
  • Cambridge C2 Proficiency (CPE) 180 overall with a minimum of 169 in reading and writing and 162 in speaking and listening;
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic) 60 overall with a minimum of 56 in reading and writing and 51 in speaking and listening;
  • IBT TOEFL 80 overall with a minimum of 17 in listening, 20 in speaking, 18 in reading and 23 in writing;
  • Trinity ISE II Pass overall with a minimum of Merit in all sub-skills, Trinity III Pass overall and in all sub-skills, ISEIV Pass overall and in all sub-skills;
  • Aptis (4 skills) CEFR B2 overall and B2 in all sub-skills.
Download Syllabus

Target Audience

Undergrad Students.

Learning Objectives

  • Explain, analyse and apply international human rights law in both theory and practice
  • Engage in the theoretical framework of diplomacy, its history and the development of international relations
  • Engage and debate critiques of human rights
  • Draft documents and possess the skills needed to negotiate their progress in a range of human rights institutions
  • Find your way within the United Nations Institutions working on human rights matters and local NGOs
  • Apply a wide range of theoretical and practical methods to human rights research, activism and politics