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Human Rights and International Conflict - MA

Why study this course?

Human rights and international conflicts confront us with the most urgent moral and political issues of our time. This new MA explains and explores what is at issue, addressing hard questions by drawing on a diversity of theoretical approaches and practical experiences.

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Human rights and international conflicts confront us with the most urgent moral and political issues of our time. Theoretically, we are confronted with the issue of how to reconcile unconditional rights with consequentialist ethics of political responsibility and rival ideologies of social order. Practically, we are confronted with particular powers, interests and conflicts demanding judgement and action that is at once moral and pragmatic. The MA in Human Rights and International Conflict will explore such issues and attempt to cultivate such judgement. The course provides both a solid academic grounding in human rights and international relations and a wide choice of optional modules. Students are trained in research methodology, before completing a 12-15,000 word dissertation dealing in depth with a subject of their choice.

Taught by published experts in human rights, peace and conflict studies, international relations, politics, history, philosophy, women's studies and other subjects, this multidisciplinary course equips students with the kind of understanding necessary to work for peace, justice and human rights in the real world.

Assessment

Assessment is largely by coursework. Core modules also involve two assessed presentations and two unseen examinations. One third of the assessment for the MA is by dissertation.

You will be required to have:

  • at least a 2:1 at undergraduate level in a humanities or social science subject (candidates with other qualifications or relevant vocational experience may be considered)

All applicants must be able to demonstrate proficiency in the English language. Applicants who require a Tier 4 student visa may need to provide a Secure English Language Test (SELT) such as Academic IELTS. For more information about English qualifications please see our English language requirements.

The modules listed below are for the academic year 2017/18 and represent the course modules at this time. Modules and module details (including, but not limited to, location and time) are subject to change over time.

Year 1 modules include:

  • This module currently runs:
    • autumn semester - Tuesday

    This module aims to provide a sound intellectual basis for the study of human rights. It is designed in particular to unsettle and challenge the preconceptions which all students bring with them concerning human rights and their importance in the contemporary world.

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  • This module currently runs:
    • all year (September start)

    Dissertation of 12,000-15,000 words.

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  • This module currently runs:
    • spring semester - Thursday

    This module examines the theory and institutionalized practice of human rights and the significance of human rights politics for the structure of the present world order. It contextualises, analyzes, evaluates and applies various conceptions of human rights that are operative within international relations and within the study of international relations. Attention is paid to the transformation of state sovereignty by human rights discourse and practice. The relation of human rights to the international order is problematised in the context of the history and philosophy of human rights, liberalism and its critics and opponents, and institutions and systems of international governance and conflict.

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  • This module currently runs:
    • autumn semester - Monday afternoon

    This module examines the theoretical, analytical, normative and practical aspects of international conflict resolution. It draws upon concepts, theories and policy prescriptions developed by both academics and practitioners. It explores the roles and activities of a range of actors in resolving intra-state and inter-state conflicts. It also offers the opportunity to examine specific conflicts in-depth.

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  • This module currently runs:
    • autumn semester - Wednesday

    This core module is devoted to approaches in International Relations, their relation to more general social science theories and the theoretical basis of research strategies in international relations. The module also includes workshops on research methods and practical exercises in designing a piece of IR research. The module will give a broad overview of the discipline of International Relations, engaging with the scope of study, key theories and concepts, and will ground these in a historical overview of the international system. Key historical themes are highlighted to demonstrate changes in the patterns and conduct of world politics.

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  • This module currently runs:
    • spring semester - Wednesday afternoon

    This module will examine the changing, contemporary foreign policy of the United States of America in the 21st Century.

    It will explore the constitutional, institutional, and political frameworks within which contemporary foreign policy in the U.S. is formulated and executed, illustrating the complexities and difficulties faced by U.S. decision makers. In particular, attention will be paid to the changing nature of power, and whether America remains a unipolar power, as argued by Charles Krauthammer, or if it is now having to adjust to a multipolar world, and what that might mean for the U.S. in the future. This will include considering how power may be shifting in the 21st Century from the U.S., and the West, to the East, or the so-called “Rest”.

    The module begins with a survey of the American foreign policy process. Topics that we will examine include international political forces, the Presidency and Congress, the executive bureaucracy, interest groups, public opinion and the media. Subsequent sections of the module examine the nature and role of power and force in today’s world; the challenges to American power; human rights and the role of moral principles in American foreign policy; the debate surrounding multilateral and unilateral foreign policies; the response to 9/11 and new security threats; and the future of American foreign policy in the 21st century.

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  • This module currently runs:
    • spring semester - Wednesday

    Provides a historical and critical overview of ideas and arguments about citizenship and social justice.

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  • This module currently runs:
    • spring semester - Tuesday afternoon

    This module examines the development of the concept of Human Security within the discipline of International Relations. It will explore its implications for our broad understanding of security. It will then examine its application to specific problems and policy areas ranging from the environment to food and disease. Finally, it will examine the concept’s operationalisation by key international bodies, such as the UN and the EU, and by individual states.

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  • This module currently runs:
    • spring semester - Wednesday

    This core module introduces students to the systematic study of International Law in an international relations context.

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  • This module currently runs:
    • autumn semester - Tuesday

    Examines role of religion in international relations, especially since the end of the Cold War, the deepening of globalisation and the impact of 9/11

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  • This module currently runs:
    • autumn semester - Tuesday afternoon

    Defining security remains a difficult academic task and it is this ambiguous nature of the concept which forms the basis for this core unit. Security Studies is one of the most important sub-disciplines within the overarching field of International Relations (IR) and its close association to the theories of IR ensures a rich and vast array of subject matter. At the same time, however, it remains distinct in terms of its central objectives, theories and approaches despite being able to draw on International Relations for support.

    Security Studies begins by addressing a number of fundamental issues, the most important of which is perhaps defining what we actually mean by the concept. This pursuit is dominated by debates between a variety of discourses: namely, those who seek to retain the discipline's focus purely on military conflict and those who argue that in a globalised world Security Studies needs to be expanded to a consideration of economic, environmental as well as social issues. This Module will seek to address these debates in the context of both national as well as international security issues. At the same time this Module will show that the debates between the traditionalists and the advocates of "new thinking" are having a profound impact on the discipline as both military and non-military issues begin to compete for the attention of academics and policy elites.

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  • This module currently runs:
    • summer studies

    This module runs in block format

    In 2015-16:
    5th, 6th, 19th and 20th May
    9th and 10th June

    This course focuses on sexual exploitation of children and young people in UK and global contexts. Sessions cover definitions and framings, including feminist debates on the sex industry, researching sexual exploitation, evidence and prevalence, abusers and coercers, policy and legislative approaches, and promising practices in intervention, protection and prevention. Specific forms of exploitation will be explored, such as trafficking, sex tourism, abusive images of children (including 'sexting'), and online grooming.

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  • This module currently runs:
    • autumn semester - Thursday

    The module starts from the proposition that the study of social policy includes much more than the study of western welfare states. It examines critically the ways in which societies and communities from the local to the transnational, not just governments, address (or fail to address) basic needs. The module uses a selection of policy examples which aim to address a range of basic needs such as access to paid employment, healthcare, schooling, citizenship, family benefits, in and out of work benefits, pensions, affordable housing, adult care, early childhood education and care. It will look at aspects of these through various analytic lenses, including the impact of policies on social divisions, and the roles of neoliberalism, globalisation, social investment, human development, social development, antiracist and feminist perspectives. The module includes a ‘regional’ approach, covering some of the following: the European Union; Latin America; North America; sub-Saharan Africa; East Asia; the Indian sub-continent. The most prominent approaches to comparative social policy are pervasive, namely: regime analysis, path dependency/institutionalism, and convergent functionalism.

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  • This module currently runs:
    • spring semester - Monday morning

    Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism. This module is in the overall context of Safety and Security, and is an advanced course in terrorism and counter-terrorism.

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  • This module currently runs:
    • autumn semester - Tuesday afternoon

    This module examines Europe's relations with the rest of the world since 1989. International relations theory is used to explain the processes involved in the construction of a New World Order

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  • This module currently runs:
    • autumn semester

    This module runs in block mode.

    In 2014-15 it should run in Autumn Semester - 9, 10, 23, 24 October
    20 and 21 November

    This module introduces students to the range of forms of violence against women, their prevalence and consequences: intimate partner violence, rape and sexual assault, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, FGM and crimes in the name of honour. We will address explanatory frameworks and perspectives, including human rights, and critically assess current policy approaches.

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  • This module currently runs:
    • autumn semester afternoon
    • spring semester afternoon

    This is an option which enables students to both gain experience working for an organisation in the field of international relations and to engage in a piece of research relevant to that organisation's work. The module aims to help students understand how organisations try to influence international events and/or how organisations in one country seek to influence internal developments in another country. By having or acquiring a placement with a relevant organisation, students will be able to enhance their understanding of the practice of an organisation seeking to shape some aspect of international or transnational relations. Students should note that although staff can assist in the search for a work placement, we cannot guarantee a suitable placement.

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The compulsory 20-credit modules are in Human Rights and the International Order, International Conflict Resolution, and History and Theory of Human Rights, together with a fourth equipping students with the research skills to undertake a 60-credit dissertation exploring their particular interests in human rights and international conflict. Students will also choose two from a range of modules on international relations, on human rights and on human and sexual security. There is also the possibility of doing a placement module and an elective module from elsewhere in the University.

Students will be trained in the kind of research and analytical skills that will qualify them to take a wide range of opportunities for both further study and for employment in the private, public and third sectors. Most especially, an academic training in human rights and conflict management will qualify its recipients to take opportunities in a range of exciting, international non-governmental organizations. Graduates of our previous courses in human rights or international security have gone on to work in such organizations.

How to apply

Use the apply online button to begin your application.

When to apply

You are advised to apply as early as possible as applications will only be considered if there are places available on the course.

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