Programme Specification: MSc Human Rights 1. Awarding Body professional/statutory body

Programme Specification: MSc Human Rights
1. Awarding Body
2. Details of accreditation by a
professional/statutory body
e.g. ESRC; BPS etc)
3. Name of final award
4. Programme Title
5. Duration of the Course
6. Based in the Department/Institute:
7. Relevant QAA subject benchmark
8. Application Code
9. First written/Last amended
Human Rights
Full-year programme.
Department of Sociology/Centre for the Study
of Human Rights
October 2003 / December 2012
11. The programme aims to:
provide students with the opportunity to study human rights at graduate level in a multidisciplinary way, drawing on staff with expertise in political philosophy, sociology and
international and domestic law, and also further afield across other disciplines in the School;
deliver an imaginative and interesting graduate course taught by research-active staff, who
are internationally renowned in their fields;
provide the opportunity for students to extend their knowledge and understanding in areas of
special interest related to human rights;
provide a thorough coverage of the most significant recent developments in human rights
and enable students to specialise in particular areas, developing their critical skills and
advancing their knowledge of the subject;
provide the students with the knowledge and skills to be able to make a significant
contribution to the practice of human rights in their chosen fields which might be, for
example, in international organisations, in the NGO sector, in professional practice, in
government or through further study and scholarship.
11. Programme outcomes: knowledge and understanding; skills and other attributes
At the end of the programme, students will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding
the historical, philosophical and legal background to and the development of modern human
the contributions and limits of various disciplines to the theory and practice of human rights;
key contemporary issues and actors in human rights nationally and internationally;
specialist human rights topics relevant to a student’s chosen option courses
the inter-relationship between human rights scholarship and the impact of human rights
issues in several western and non-western contexts.
human rights legal instruments, principles and case law, whether or not student has a legal
Students will additionally be able to:
Critically apply knowledge and understanding they have gained to provide in-depth analysis
and research in a focused human rights area using approaches from more than one
academic discipline;
Skills and other attributes
ability to apply intellectual reasoning and critical and analytical skills from an inter- and multidisciplinary human rights perspective to the analysis of social issues and problems
ability to demonstrate analytical and critical skills in producing and completing successfully a
sustained piece of research
ability to use a variety of relevant library databases, research tools and referencing systems;
ability to write concise academic essays on topics related to human rights (three such
essays, one examinable, required from each student taking the core course)
ability to make oral contributions in class, including demonstration of presentation skills;
For further information relating to careers.
12. Teaching, learning and assessment strategies to enable outcomes to be achieved and
Teaching and learning
Teaching on the MSc Human Rights programme combines lectures and seminars. The
seminars are designed to be participatory and employ a variety of methods of learning and
teaching, including student presentations, small group work, large class debates, analysis of
reading and documents and other associated methods. While lecture-based teaching is
largely instructional, it also provides opportunities for student input. Seminar teaching
involves a combination of teacher and student input;
Scheduled dissertation workshops provide structured and student-centered learning based
on active student participation, contributions and problem solving. Individual dissertation
supervisions and dissertation ‘clinics’ provide more detailed specialist advice and guidance.
For example, students receive assistance from an academic advisor/dissertation supervisor
in preparing their dissertations and other staff with the cross-disciplinary specialist knowledge
may be consulted as necessary. In particular, the cross-departmental Centre Advisory Board
may be called upon for additional meetings with MSc Human Rights students;
A sophisticated Virtual Learning Environment (Moodle) is used both for the core course and
for MSc Human Rights programme as a whole and this provides orientation, curriculumrelated, careers related and public event information that is regularly updated;
Students can apply to the MSc funds to conduct fieldwork (including attending relevant
events abroad) that would be beneficial to the preparation of a successful dissertation;
Students have access to the Centre’s library of specialist human rights texts and to the
Centre’s meeting room;
Additional non-compulsory ‘master classes’ and guest practitioner seminars in human rights
are also offered by the Centre across all three teaching terms. These may involve seminars,
taught courses in advocacy or practice areas and discussion events led by specialist human
rights practitioners and academics who are typically undertaking cutting-edge work in their
A wide-ranging program of high profile public events is also offered at the Centre, often
followed by receptions whereby students can meet well-known human rights figures;
A series of career related events are also organised in conjunction with the LSE Careers’
Service and with MSc Human Rights Alumni.
Assessment strategies
The assessment strategies are appropriate to and test the programme learning outcomes
and are based on a mixed mode of assessment that combines formative and summative
work, the latter undertaken through a combination of assessed coursework and seen or
unseen examinations (as relevant to the core course and the options selected.) It is a
requirement that students pass the MSc Human Rights taught core course (one full unit),
SO424 Approaches to Human Rights, in order to achieve a pass level for the degree. The
Department of Sociology mark frame (the assessment and grading criteria) specify the
demonstration of knowledge and understanding and the application of critical, analytical
abilities, among other skills and attributes that are to be demonstrated. The options courses
are selected by students from a carefully selected and restricted list that reflects the
interdisciplinary nature and human rights focus of the programme;
For SO424 Approaches to Human Rights, students undertake formative assessment in the
form of two written essays for which they receive structured feedback. Summative
assessment for the core course, SO424 Approaches to Human Rights, is by an assessed
essay and an unseen three hour exam. The latter paper structured in a way that tests
learning outcomes relevant to the interdisciplinary nature of the course and programme (for
example, students are required to answer at least one question related to legal and
sociological / political philosophy areas);
Formative assessment also takes place in relation to the student’s progress in developing
their dissertation: students are required to submit a dissertation proposal and attend and
submit work during dissertation workshops. They also receive feedback on their dissertation
progress during individual dissertation supervisions. The dissertation also tests the students
application of knowledge and understanding drawn from various elements of the taught core
course and other knowledge and understanding they have gained in specialist areas (such
as from options courses or their own independent;
Summative assessment for options courses is typically by a combination of coursework and
seen or unseen examinations. This mode of assessment is appropriate for the
interdisciplinary nature of the programme and is intended to demonstrate the application of
knowledge and understanding and a range of other critical and analytical skills and attributes.
13.Programme structures and requirements, levels modules and awards.
See the MSc Human Rights programme Regulations
Additional Information
14.Criteria for admission to the programme
Applicants with good first degrees in any discipline, with a considered interest in the area covered by
the MSc will be welcomed.
15.Indicators of quality
A strong indicator of quality is student demand for the programme, which has increased steadily since
inception: the programme regularly receives between 250 and 300 well-qualified international
applicants who identify this programme as their first choice course of study at the LSE. Applicants
typically would have studied previously at high or very high ranking academic institutions across the
The programme and its core course regularly receives very positive student feedback in the annual
survey of teaching quality.
Graduates from the programme are regularly accepted onto prestigious doctoral programmes at
prestigious universities in the UK, US, Europe and elsewhere.
A further indicator of quality relates to a large and lively alumni community that meets annually at the
LSE and continues to promote the programme to prospective students.
External examiners reports have been consistently positive regarding programme quality over many
years and the teaching team is highly responsive regarding external examiner recommendations.
Both the LSE and the Department of Sociology are regularly placed in very high positions in external
assessments of teaching quality and student satisfaction. For example, the 2011 Complete University
Guide placed LSE Sociology as third when universities are ranked by subject; The Guardian
University Guide 2012 placed LSE Sociology as second nationally; The Times Good University Guide
2010 placed the Sociology Department as fifth in terms of student satisfaction.
The LSE Careers Centre website provides data on career destinations of LSE graduates.
16. Methods for evaluating and improving the quality and standard of teaching and learning
Departmental-wide mechanisms include:
A Staff-Student Liaison Committee which meets termly to report on any matters relating to the
programme, issues of learning and teaching and the overall student learning environment;
Additionally, the Director of the Centre is also Programme Director and students are invited
to raise any additional or further issues regarding programme quality through this route;
The Centre holds twice-termly meetings relating to oversee and develop teaching and
Curriculum and programme review is undertaken periodically and there is a process for
continuous improvement though responsive actions and in regular scheduled discussions of
curricular matters among the teaching team;
An advisory board oversees all the activities of the Centre for the Study of Human Rights,
including MSc Human Rights teaching;
In addition to External Examiner assessments and reports, the Examinations Sub-board of
MSc Human Rights regularly reviews the quality of assessment strategies and statistical
reports related to these.
School-wide mechanisms include:
Regular liaison with the LSE’s Teaching and Learning Unit, especially with regard to modes of
teaching in the core curriculum and new approaches to learning, teaching and assessment
and the use of new technology;
Regular liaison with the Dean of Graduate Studies;
Regular staff appraisal and review;
improvements in teaching technique by the Teaching and Learning Centre through
observations, advice and further training;
induction programme and mentoring scheme for new members of staff;
support of Occasional Teachers by the lecturer responsible for a particular module plus the
Occasional Teacher Tutor;
centrally administered student satisfaction surveys by the LSE Teaching Quality Assurance
and Review Office;
an improved system for ensuring that External Examiners’ comments/recommendations are
fed through to Departments and acted upon;
the School’s Teaching Learning and Assessment Committee (TLAC) which regulates all
aspects of teaching quality;
the School’s Graduate Studies Sub-Committee which oversees all graduate programmes and
ensures that significant changes to programmes and courses pass through a sequence of
formal stages, so that curricular changes are appropriate and compatible with other