Human Rights Courses

By Mariza Halliday - Last update

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What are Human Rights?

Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms that belong to every person in the world, from birth until death. These basic rights are based on shared values like dignity, fairness, equality, respect, and independence. These values are defined and protected by law.

Human rights are standards that allow all people to live with dignity, freedom, equality, justice, and peace. Every person has these rights simply because they are human beings.

Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more. Everyone is entitled to these rights, without discrimination.

What 3rd level courses are available?

Universities and colleges in Ireland are offering Human Rights courses in the following subject areas: 

  • Professional Diploma in Human Rights & Equality – Gain a better understanding of the place that human rights and equality occupy in public management and administration.
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Human Rights and Development Management – The study of Human Rights and Development Management.
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Arts in International Human Rights Law – The study of International Human Rights Law specialization.
  • LL.M. In International Human Rights Law – Gain the skills and knowledge to specialize in International Human Rights Law.
  • International Women’s Health and Human Rights – The Study of women’s health and human rights issues from infancy through old age, including information about positive interventions relating to those issues.
  • Children’s Human Rights – The study of critical issues concerning children’s rights.
  • Leading for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Higher Education – The study of leadership in higher education for a changing demographic
  • Human Rights for Open Societies – The study of the European Convention on Human Rights and its mechanisms
  • Social Work Practice: Advocating Social Justice and Change – Explore the social work profession and the different roles of social workers

Studying Human Rights in college

Many Human Rights courses take place over 1 year to 4 years depending on the course and modules selected. There are also part-time courses and night courses available so you can be sure to fit in your studies no matter what your schedule is like.

Courses will cover all theory work through lectures, assignments, tutorials, and taught modules. Assessments will take place continuously with written examinations and practical assignments combined to achieve a qualification. You could also consider work experience or consider exploring human rights scholarships, fellowships, and other volunteer positions.

Work Experience will not only allow you to obtain a deeper knowledge and understanding of the industry, but it will also give you a chance to do some essential networking with other industry professionals and gain valuable contacts for the future.

Career options

After completing a course in Human Rights you will be able to get started in a career that uses specific knowledge of Human Rights and Development.

A career in human rights is both rewarding and competitive and there are several human rights career paths for your consideration. The human rights sector offers a variety of career paths that all have unique challenges, requirements, strategies, and tools to create change. Most career paths fall within the realms of campaigning and communication, research, education, advocacy, activism, and law. 

Some examples of Career Options:

Human Rights Lawyer – Human Rights Lawyers work on include a variety of topics such as refugee rights, child rights, war crimes, discrimination law, gender equality, and more.

Human Rights Campaigner – Human Rights Campaigners are responsible for the development and delivery of human rights campaigns. They engage new audiences, mobilize supporters and raise awareness for human rights issues and on behalf of individuals and communities at risk of human rights violations.

Human Rights Educator – The goal of a Human Rights Educator is to empower and equip people with the knowledge and skills they need to claim and defend their rights.

Human Rights Researcher – Human Rights Researchers work to ensure that human rights work is based on well-established facts. They carry out human rights investigations, go on field trips to conduct interviews with victims of human rights violations, and draft reports on their findings.

Human Rights Advocacy Officer – Working in Advocacy means lobbying and influencing international bodies, governments, communities, corporations, organizations, human rights defenders, politicians, and other decision-makers to tackle current human rights challenges.

Human Rights Policy Analyst – Policy analysts evaluate and influence policies and policy changes. They typically focus on one specific area of policy such as refugee rights, child protection, or gender equality and work in non-profits, think tanks, government agencies, and even media outlets.

Human Rights Consultant – Consultants for human rights organizations typically work on short-term contracts to provide focused expertise in a specific area or topic. They generally work to provide training courses, seminars, documents, reports, etc. in a highly specialized area.

Working hours will depend greatly on the career path you choose and whether your chosen occupation means you are employed by a company with set business hours or if you are contracted to various facilities or companies.

Related jobs include:

  • Human Rights Lawyer
  • Human Rights Campaigner
  • Human Rights Educator
  • Human Rights Researcher
  • Human Rights Advocacy Officer
  • Human Rights Activism Coordinator
  • Human Rights Activist
  • Human Rights Assistant
  • Human Rights Program Officer
  • Human Rights Grant Writer
  • Human Rights Communications Officer
  • Human Rights Fundraising Specialist
  • International Lawyer
  • Statistician
  • Community Worker
  • Social Worker
  • Human Resources Officer
  • Politician
  • Policy Specialist
  • Political Affairs Officer
  • Interpreter/Translator

Further study

After completing a course in Human Rights you may choose to pursue further study in a specialist field to increase your knowledge base and skillset. Postgraduate study can also be used as a means to change career focus or to gain professional qualifications required to practice in certain career areas such as International Law or Sustainable Development.


Why are Human Rights important?

Human rights are relevant to all of us, not just those who face repression or mistreatment.

They protect you in many areas of your day-to-day life, including:

· Your right to have and express your own opinions

· Your right to an education 

· Your right to a private and family life

· Your right not to be mistreated or wrongly punished

What are some important moments in the development of Human Rights?

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights 

· The atrocities of the Second World War made the protection of human rights an international priority.

· The United Nations was founded in 1945.

· The United Nations allowed more than 50 Member States to contribute to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948.

· This was the first attempt to set out at a global level the fundamental rights and freedoms shared by all human beings.

The European Convention on Human Rights

· The Universal Declaration of Human Rights formed the basis for the European Convention on Human Rights, adopted in 1950.

· British lawyers played a key role in drafting the European Convention on Human Rights, with Winston Churchill heavily involved.

· It protects the human rights of people in countries that belong to the Council of Europe, including the UK.

The Human Rights Act 1998

· The Human Rights Act 1998 made the rights set out by the European Convention on Human Rights part of our domestic law.

· The Human Rights Act means that courts in the United Kingdom can hear human rights cases.

· Before it was passed, people had to take their complaints to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.

Where can I study Human Rights?

Explore your options here

Did You Know?

· By freeing slaves, allowing freedom of religion, and establishing racial equality, King Cyrus the Great of Persia (600-530 BCE) recognizes a basic concept of human rights.

· From 1945-1949, the Allied powers prosecute Nazi leaders for crimes against humanity. It is the first criminal trial in recorded history to prosecute individuals for their conduct during war.

· In 1948, the UN General Assembly adopts the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which establishes “fundamental and inalienable” rights for all people.

· In 1993, Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk won the Nobel Peace Prize for their work in South Africa and peacefully ending apartheid.

· In 1996, tensions between the Hutus (who made up 80% of Rwanda’s population) and Tutsis reach a boiling point. Within 100 days, 800,000 Tutsis are killed. The Rwandan genocide has since become considered one of the worst violations of human rights in modern history.

· Violence against women and children remains one of the most pressing human rights issues around the world. In many countries, domestic violence is not a crime.

· According to a 2019 report from the International Labor Organization, 152 million children are working in labor. 7 out of 10 work in agriculture, such as cocoa fields in West Africa.


Mariza Halliday

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