International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law

Study type:Part-time Languages: English
Local:$ 6.18 k / Year(s)  
StudyQA ranking:4136 Duration:18 months


This postgraduate program provides advanced study of the international protection of fundamental human rights. The curriculum integrates general human rights protection in times of peace and war with the special protection of basic rights in situations of armed conflict (under international humanitarian law). Such an approach is especially important as the boundary between war and peace becomes increasingly blurred.

Such a blurring of the boundary is the result from many different circumstances including: the rise of terrorism, the diversity in its cause and nature and wide scope of possible reactions to it; the often unclear boundary between situations of civil war, external aggression, guerrilla action and even domestic policing; the reliance on both official (Security Council-sanctioned) and unofficial (sometimes invited) peace-keeping forces in a broad range of conflict situations. Confusion in drawing a clear line may even emerge from humanitarian military intervention in the name of the defence of human rights itself. Responses to various forms of civil unrest (often itself provoked by alleged breaches of human rights) or states of emergency (whether of political or natural origin) including, for example, the establishment of a state of martial law, or merely reliance upon domestic or even foreign military forces to assert control or provide assistance expands the range of situations which are difficult to categorise. Beyond this, national intelligence services may conduct operations (whether at home or abroad) with (quasi-)military character but which formally, not invoke the regulatory framework of humanitarian law. Reliance on mercenary forces and other forms of military outsourcing in diverse contexts of belligerency expands this list even further.

All these examples show that a rigid and dogmatic attempt to identify situations where international humanitarian law does or does not apply and thus how it interacts with the generally applicable regime of human rights protection is at least problematic and may even be counterproductive. This program of study therefore embraces the full range of international law responses to human rights challenges and of the measures and systems for the protection of the individual in the most diverse political, social, economic, geographical and military situations.

The teaching faculty for the degree program consists of highly qualified human rights teachers and experts from many different countries and varied academic traditions.

Students of the Master of International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law (LLM) program are selected on a competitive basis considering their grades in previous courses, their practical experience and their motivation for enrolling in the program. The language of instruction is English.

This advanced degree provides a suitable basis for a career in international human rights, whether in international organizations on universal or regional level, national governmental institutions or non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The Masters course contains a significant practical component aimed at providing a bridge between academic study of human rights and later professional activity, thus allowing flexible and wide career choice. The international spread and experience of the teaching staff and their contacts to many institutions internationally provide a secure base for diverse human rights internship and career opportunities.

Category 1: Compulsory core modules

General introduction

Civil and political rights

Economic, social and cultural rights

Prohibition of discrimination

Womens and childrens rights

Rights of minorities and indigenous peoples

Refugees, internally displaced persons and migration

Individual (criminal) responsibility and state responsibility

Category 2: Elective modules (theory and skills)

Justice and (criminal) penalties and enforcement

Democracy, rule of law and administration

Global economy, employment and working conditions

Media and science

Conflict prevention/management

Fulfilment and enforcement

Representation of interests

Research and training

The compulsory and the elective modules consist of both presence and distance-learning elements. Lectures and seminars within the presence elements take place in Frankfurt (Oder) based on small-group teaching. Students are expected to prepare intensively for such lectures and seminars and carry out follow-up work through distance learning or library activity so as to consolidate the material dealt with in face-to-face teaching. The distance-learning elements are presented via an internet platform providing for an interactive study.

Category 3: Practical experience and thesis

Students enrolled in the Masters program complete a period of practical training and experience relevant to the subject matter. This internship period is conducted within institution active in the field covered by the Masters program or with a direct relation to it. Students are expected to organise their own internships. The Masters Office provides maximum assistance in arranging internships.

Students write and defend a Master's thesis on an approved topic, supervised by one or more members of the Masters Faculty or by another expert approved by the Examinations Committee. Students also have the opportunity of participating in research projects conducted by teachers and scholars affiliated with the Masters program.

* a university degree in law or an equivalent qualification * a certified copy of the degree(s) in German, English or French must be submitted with the application form * adequate aptitude in English, both spoken and written, to be able to read academic literature, write academic papers and engage competently in academic discourse English Language Requirements IELTS band: 6 CAE score: (read more) Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) is part of the Cambridge English suite and is targeted at a high level (IETLS 6.5-8.0). It is an international English language exam set at the right level for academic and professional success. Developed by Cambridge English Language Assessment - part of the University of Cambridge - it helps you stand out from the crowd as a high achiever. 75 (Grade B)

Scholarships, stipends or other forms of financial assistance may be available from external sources. Applicants in financial need are therefore very strongly advised to make their own efforts and enquiries (especially with relevant public institutions, NGOs, foundations and large private institutions in their own country). The Viadrina is willing to assist applicants to obtain financial support from external sources where it is able to do so, either by providing suggestions or through a letter of support confirming admission to the program.


Since its reestablishment in the year 1991, Viadrina has strictly adhered to its concept of bringing young people together from every corner of the world. This concept has proven to be successful: Viadrina has grown to become a lively, highly regarded member in the community of German and European universities.

The European University Viadrina remains at the forefront of student exchanges with international universities. This year the Viadrina was honored for the second time with the Erasmus Quality Seal, E-Quality, which is given by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). E-Quality is determined by a schools service and accomplishments in the field of student exchanges. The Viadrina won first place among state schools nationwide for student mobility: 52% of Viadrina spend academic time abroad. While the percentage of outgoing Viadrina students choosing the most popular host countries, Spain (20%) and France (18%), is the same as at other German universities, the high percentage of students studying in Turkey (10%) and in Poland (9%) breaks notably from national trends. The almost 20% of outgoing students who choose universities in Eastern Europe is a distinguishing feature of the Viadrina.

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