MSc Human Rights

Graduate Taught (level 9 nfq, credits 90)

The MSc in Human Rights is a one-year intensive course that prepares you for a career in human rights research, policy or advocacy in international organisations, governmental and non-governmental bodies, or academia. There is also a two-year part time option.

  • You will explore the theory, politics and law of human rights and examine the mechanisms and limitations of national and international action to protect human rights.
  • You will either complete a research dissertation or undertake a monitored internship.

Careers & Employability

Graduates work with international private-sector employers, government agencies and NGOs as:

Human Rights Specialist
Field Officer
Human Rights Consultant
Child Protection Adviser
Public Information Officer

Recent graduates of MSc in Human Rights now work in:

Front Line Defenders
United Nations, New York and Geneva
Amnesty International
Médecins sans Frontières
PLAN Ireland
Irish Aid

Curricular information is subject to change

Full Time option suitable for:

Domestic(EEA) applicants: Yes
International (Non EEA) applicants currently residing outside of the EEA Region. Yes

Part Time option suitable for:

Domestic(EEA) applicants: Yes
International (Non EEA) applicants currently residing outside of the EEA Region. No

  • You will explore the theory, politics and law of human rights and examine the mechanisms and limitations of national and international action to protect human rights.
  • You will either complete a research dissertation or undertake a monitored internship.

The progressive realisation of human rights represents perhaps the most challenging political issue of our times.  This programme aspires to develop and nurture the skills in studnets that would allow them meet that challenge and controbute constructively to both policy and practice in the field of human rights.

  • To thoroughly familiarise students with cutting edge issues in the broad area of human rights
  • allow students participate constructively in topical debates on human rights
  • develop methodological research expertise
  • develop oral presentation skills
  • develop student's research/writing skills
  • enhance group work skills
  • facilitate students' professional development to work in HR policy

View All Modules Here

The MSc in Human Rights is a 90-credit programme, including 60 credits of modules taught by staff in the School of Politics and International Relations and the School of Law.  Full time students must take three 10-credit modules in the autumn trimester, and three 10-credit modules in the spring trimester. Students must also submit a thesis worth 30-credits or pursue an Internship instead in the summer trimester. 

SPIRe part time programmes run for 2 years and students normally do 1 -2 modules per semester. The final 30-credit module is completed during the second year of the programme. PT students should complete the research design module in year 2.

Please note that our part-time programmes run during the day and are not timetabled in the evenings or at weekends.

Core and Option Modules for MSc Human Rights 

These are the current modules for 2024/25 but are subject to change. Each of the following modules carries 10 credits unless otherwise specified. 

Autumn Trimester Core

Autumn Trimester Option

  • ​LAW40780 Law of the ECHR
  • POL40050 Theories of International Relations
  • POL40140 Theories of Global Justice
  • POL40160 Comparative Public Policy
  • POL40540 Comparative European Politics
  • POL41510 Politics and Change in the Middle East and North Africa
  • POL41980 Peace & Conflict Studies
  • POL42040 Gender & the Political System
  • POL42070 Politics of (mis-)information
  • POL42530 The Politics of International Trade and Investment (NEW)
  • POL42540 Applied Data Wrangling and Visualisation (5-Credits) (NEW)
  • POL42550 Feminist Theory (NEW)
  • POL42570 Connected_Politics 1 (5-Credits) (NEW)

Spring Trimester Core

Spring Trimester Option

  • DEV40020 Gender and Development
  • ​LAW42130 UN Human Rights Practice
  • LAW42290 Gender, Conflict Harm and Transitional Justice
  • POL40100 Politics of Development
  • POL40370 International Political Economy
  • POL40610 EU Foreign, Security, and Defence Policy
  • POL40970 Politics of European Governance
  • POL41720 Gender, Peace, and Security
  • POL41860 Governance, Politics and Development
  • POL41910 Political Violence (NEW)
  • POL42050 Quantitative Text Analysis
  • POL42060 International Security
  • POL42430 IR Theory: Conflict and Identity (NEW)
  • POL42500 Politics of Authoritarianism
  • POL42560 AI and Large Language Models (NEW)

Summer Trimester

POL42300 SPIRe Internship (30 credits)
POL42310 Thesis (30 credits)

Important - POL42570 & POL42540 must be taken together. 

MSc Human Rights (W035) Full Time
EU          fee per year - € 10100
nonEU    fee per year - € 22600

MSc Human Rights (W110) Part Time
EU          fee per year - € 6420
nonEU    fee per year - € 11300

***Fees are subject to change

Tuition fee information is available on the UCD Fees website. Please note that UCD offers a number of graduate scholarships for full-time, self-funding international students, holding an offer of a place on a UCD graduate degree programme. For further information please see International Scholarships.

SPIRe operates a Graduate Scholarship programme, which opens on May 1st. To access details, see SPIRe Graduate Scholarship Scheme. Please note that not all programmes are eligible for this Scholarship, please check the T&C's carefully when they become available.


The UCD School of Politics and International Relations (SPIRe) has established an internship programme for graduate students undertaking MA programmes in Politics, International Relations, International Political Economy, International Development, Peace and Conflict, MEconSc European Public Affairs and Law, MSc Human Rights and MSc Politics and Data Science. You can either opt for a Masters thesis, or an internship of at least 480 hours, typically undertaken from June to August. 

See this page for more information 

  • A primary degree with at least Second Class Honours Grade 1 (2H1). 2H1 is equivalent to 60 per cent, B minus or 3.08 GPA - in American system: B or 3.00 GPA.

  • Your application will be considered on its individual merits and relevant professional experience will also be taken into account.
  • English language requirements: applicants whose first language is not English should have met TOEFL, IELTs, or computer-based TOEFL requirements (600, 6.5, or 250 respectively), or the Cambridge English Test (Certificate in Advanced English at a minimum of Grade B, or Certificate of Proficiency in English at Grade C). Applicants who obtained a previous degree from an English-speaking university may be exempted from this requirement. Click here for further info.
  • Students meeting the programme’s academic entry requirements but not the  English language requirements, may enter the programme upon  successful completion of UCD’s Pre-Sessional or International Pre-Master’s Pathway programmes. Please see the following link for further information 
  • These are the minimum entry requirements – additional criteria may be requested for some programmes

Ellen Ince

As someone with a passion and interest in learning about different cultures, it was important that my Masters featured an international outlook. This course appealed to me because Human Rights is such a broad field and I was able make the course my own by choosing the areas I wanted to focus on - combining law, political theory, sociology and social justice studies. I had the opportunity to study a range of topics including asylum and refugee law, the origins of human rights, how human rights norms spread and what effects they have on state behaviour, the procedures of United Nations human rights bodies, as well as the functions and limitations of human rights law in achieving equality. 

The course was fast-paced and interactive; consisting of class debates on challenging political issues with students from all around the world, as well as group projects and presentations. I greatly appreciated their expertise, kindness and dedication to making the learning experience as enjoyable as possible. Having the option to join classes remotely supported me hugely in balancing college work with my other commitments. Thanks to the MSc Human Rights course, I now have the confidence, skills and motivation to succeed with a strong educational foundation behind me. I would recommend this course to anyone interested in working cross-culturally and looking to pursue a global career in a diverse field. 

The following entry routes are available:

MSc Human Rights FT (W035)
1 Years
Full Time
MSc Human Rights PT (W110)
2 Years
Part Time

* Courses will remain open until such time as all places have been filled, therefore early application is advised

A comphrensive FAQ can be found here