M.A. Vienna Master of Arts in Human Rights

University of Vienna

Application deadline: 30 March 2014
Tuition fee:
  • € 9,990 / Year (EEA)
  • € 9,990 / Year (Non-EEA)
Start date: October  2014
Credits: 120 ECTS
Languages:
  • English
Location:
Delivery mode: On Campus
Educational variant: Full-time

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Description

No philosophical idea has had a more profound impact on international relations and world politics than human rights. Within half a century since World War II and the Holocaust, human rights developed into the only universally accepted value system of our times. The recognition of states as democratic, developed and peace-loving nations today depends on their capacity and willingness to protect human rights. Long-term dictators and brutal military rulers are increasingly being ousted and held accountable for gross and systematic violations of human rights before international criminal tribunals. Even business corporations and international organisations are judged by their human rights performance. In post-conflict situations and transitions from totalitarian to democratic rule, human rights constitute an essential element of peace-building, development and good governance. Human rights open the doors to a better world for all.

The implementation of human rights in rich and poor countries, in peace operations, development projects, transition and post-conflict situations requires highly motivated and skilled human rights experts with empathy for human beings.

With our newly designed Master of Arts in Human Rights the University of Vienna offers you the unique opportunity to study human rights in an international, trans-disciplinary and practice-oriented environment.

Aims and objectivesWe aim at providing you with the scientific knowledge and the practical skills to work as a human rights expert in different professional environments.

Target groupWe welcome students with at least a bachelor degree in a broad variety of academic disciplines from all world regions, with an open mind, empathy for human beings and a strong interest to experience the fascinating world of human rights.

ModulesWe provide you with an innovative and interdisciplinary approach to human rights, with a strong emphasis on practice. Since we keep the number of students small, supervision is very personal so you get the most out of the programme. Your interests are taken very seriously - you have the opportunity to determine certain contents of your courses.

FacultyWe offer you a broad variety of courses taught by university professors and academic lecturers from various disciplines as well as human rights practitioners working in international organisations, human rights institutes, the corporate sector, development agencies and civil society organisations.

Field tripWe provide you with an enlightening and memorable field experience in the post-conflict situation in Kosovo, where the UN, the OSCE, the EU, NATO and other international organisations are jointly operating an international administration with a strong human rights mandate. The trip will last for one week where you stay with a local family and get the opportunity to have lively discussions about Kosovo's human rights issues with international actors, national human rights institutions, NGOs, media, universities and politicians.

Job opportunitiesWe will train you for a career as a human rights expert to be employed by governments, international organisations, development agencies, business corporations, research institutes and civil society organisations. You might work as an election observer, officer for human rights monitoring and capacity building in the field, diplomat, trainer, mediator, consultant, researcher etc.

Contents

This interdisciplinary and practice-oriented postgraduate programme comprises of 9 obligatory modules (88 ECTS), a Master thesis (30 ECTS) and a thesis defence (2 ECTS), adding up to 120 ECTS in total.

Overview of the Modules

a) Introduction to Human Rights from an Interdisciplinary Perspective (9 ECTS)

b) Human Rights Standards and Mechanisms of the United Nations and the Council of Europe (8 ECTS)

c) European Union, OSCE and Other Regional Human Rights Mechanisms (10 ECTS)

d) Selected Human Rights (16 ECTS)

e) Human Rights of Specific Groups (10 ECTS)

f) Human Rights in Context and New Challenges (8 ECTS)

g) Practical Human Rights Skills (4 ECTS)

h) Scientific Competence (7 ECTS)

i) The Use of New Media as a Means of Scientific Competence (16 ECTS)

Description of the Modules

a) Introduction to Human Rights from an Interdisciplinary Perspective

Aims of the module:

  • Knowledge of the concept of human rights
  • Understanding that human rights are a truly interdisciplinary matter
  • Knowledge of the basic principles, structures and approaches (and maybe overview of methods) of each discipline with regard to human rights (from a legal, historical, theological, philosophical, anthropological, psychological, sociological, political/international relations’ and media perspective)
  • Knowledge about the development of human rights
  • Ability to identify various interdisciplinary aspects of a human rights related issue and to take these into account when dealing with this issue

Courses: Introduction to Human Rights from an Interdisciplinary Perspective

  • Human Rights from an International Law Perspective
  • Human Rights from a Historical Perspective
  • Human Rights from a Theological Perspective
  • Human Rights from a Philosophical Perspective
  • Human Rights from an Anthropological Perspective
  • Human Rights from a Psychological Perspective
  • Human Rights from a Sociological Perspective
  • Human Rights from a Political/International Relations’ Perspective
  • Human Rights from a Media Perspective

b) Human Rights Standards and Mechanisms of the United Nations and the Council of Europe

Aims of the module:

  • Knowledge of the various UN human rights standards, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the two Covenants and other UN human rights treaties and its specialised agencies (e.g. ILO)
  • Knowledge of human rights institutions/mechanisms of the UN system, such as the treaty monitoring bodies and procedures and the Charter based mechanisms (Human Rights Council, General Assembly, Security Council etc.)
  • Knowledge of the various human rights standards of the Council of Europe, such as the European Convention on Human Rights, the European Social Charter and the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture
  • Knowledge of the human rights mechanisms of the Council of Europe, such as the European Court of Human Rights, the European Social Committee, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, and the European Commissioner for Human Rights
  • Knowledge of practical strengths and weaknesses of these systems from an interdisciplinary point of view
  • Understanding how the human rights systems of the UN and Council of Europe work in practice
  • Ability to critically assess the advantages and difficulties of these systems
  • Ability to apply the acquired knowledge to specific cases and situations

Courses: Human Rights Standards and Mechanisms of the United Nations and the Council of Europe

  • The UN System and Human Rights
  • The Council of Europe and Human Rights

c) European Union, OSCE and Other Regional Human Rights Mechanisms

Aims of the module:

  • Knowledge of the EU human rights standards, such as the Lisbon Treaty and the European Charter of Fundamental Rights
  • Knowledge of human rights institutions/mechanisms of the EU, such as the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, the European Court of Justice, the COHOM-Working Party on Human Rights, as well as the role of human rights in the Common Foreign and Security Policy and in the Development Cooperation Policy of the EU
  • Knowledge of the human rights standards and mechanisms of the OSCE, such as the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the High Commissioner on National Minorities, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, and the OSCE Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings
  • Knowledge of other regional human rights mechanisms in the context of the Organization of American States, the African Union, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and the League of Arab States
  • Comparative knowledge of practical strengths and weaknesses of regional human rights standards and mechanisms from an interdisciplinary point of view
  • Understanding how these human rights systems work in practice

Courses: European Union, OSCE and Other Regional Human Rights Mechanisms

  • European Union Human Rights Mechanisms
  • OSCE Human Rights Mechanisms
  • Other Regional Human Rights Regimes

d) Selected Human Rights

Aims of the module:

  • Knowledge of specific civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights
  • Understanding equality, diversity and the principle of non-discrimination
  • Understanding the different State obligations to respect, fulfil and protect all human rights
  • Understanding the universality, indivisibility and interdependence of human rights
  • Knowledge of certain legal principles relating to human rights, such as the scope of application, legitimate restrictions and limitations, the principle of proportionality etc.
  • Ability to apply international human rights law to specific practical cases and situations
  • Ability to identify practical problems and good practices in the implementation of specific human rights

In this module the participants will choose the rights they want to deal with for the course Civil, Political and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights II in the first semester in order to take into account their special interests.

Courses: Selected Human Rights

  • Human Rights Theory and Civil, Political and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights I
  • Civil, Political and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights II

e) Human Rights of Specific Groups

Aims of the module:

  • Knowledge of human rights of specific groups
  • Ability to apply international human rights law to specific practical cases and situations with regards to human rights of specific groups
  • Ability to identify practical problems and good practices in the implementation of human rights of specific groups
  • Ability to prepare and present a case and argue for a certain position in the setting of court proceedings (Moot Court)

In this module in the first semester the participants will choose the specific group rights they want to deal with for the course Human Rights of Specific Groups II in order to take into account their special interests.

This module also contains a Moot Court. It simulates the proceedings of a human rights case before an international court where students deliver written and oral pleadings. This enables them to apply the acquired knowledge and skills in a practice-oriented setting.

Courses: Human Rights of Specific Groups

  • Human Rights of Specific Groups I
  • Human Rights of Specific Groups II
  • Moot Court

f) Human Rights in Context and New Challenges

Aims of the module:

  • Understanding the relationship between State sovereignty and international human rights protection
  • Understanding the relationship between human rights and peace
  • Understanding the relationship between human rights and development
  • Understanding the relationship between human rights and democracy
  • Knowledge of approaches on how to tackle human rights challenges in specific difficult settings, such as human rights in conflict, human rights and terrorism, human rights and poverty
  • Ability to understand and apply a human rights based approach to development, poverty reduction and other issues
  • Knowledge of specific newly emerging human rights issues, such as human rights and business, human rights and environment, human rights and climate change, as well as transcultural human rights
  • Ability to identify practical problems and good practices in the implementation of these new human rights from an interdisciplinary point of view
  • Knowledge of approaches to tackle these new human rights issues
  • Ability to identify human rights challenges in specific difficult/emerging settings
  • Ability to apply this knowledge in concrete cases and situations

In this module the participants will choose the topics they want to deal with for the course Human Rights in Context II in the first semester in order to take into account their special interests.

Courses: Human Rights in Context and New Challenges

  • Human Rights in Context I
  • Human Rights in Context II

g) Practical Human Rights Skills

Aims of the module:

  • Knowledge of practical skills required in everyday work with human rights, such as advocacy, monitoring, fact finding, reporting, human rights work in the field etc.
  • Ability to deal with practical challenges in the field of human rights
  • Ability to apply this knowledge in concrete cases that might occur in the field
  • Ability to work in an international, inter-cultural environment
  • Ability to reflect thought patterns critically against the background of other traditions and cultures
  • Ability to set up, manage and implement human rights projects

Courses: Practical Human Rights Skills

  • Practical Human Rights Skills I
  • Practical Human Rights Skills II

h) Scientific Competence

Aims of the module:

  • Knowledge of working methods to write different types of human rights papers/contributions in various disciplines
  • Ability to acquire knowledge of and to critically assess the current state of research and controversies regarding a specific human rights topic
  • Ability to conduct professional human rights research in various disciplines
  • Ability to evaluate specialist literature
  • Ability to write a well-structured, well-reasoned thesis about an innovative human rights topic
  • Ability to present a human rights paper and to discuss it using academic arguments
  • Ability to reflect critically one’s own academic paper

The seminar „Presentation and Discussion of Theses“ facilitates the writing process for the master thesis by presenting and discussing the draft theses of the students.

Courses: Scientific Competence

  • Scientific Methods and Theories
  • Presentation and Discussion of Theses

i) The Use of New Media as a Means of Scientific Competence

Aims of the module:

  • Ability to use new media in order to examine and present current human rights topics
  • Ability to follow news coverage about international politics and to identify relevant and current developments and incidents in the field of human rights
  • Ability to write analyses and documentation about these developments/incidents and to discuss these interactively within a moderated online platform and to present these on the CampusRadio (web radio of the University of Vienna)
  • Ability to reflect the students’ experiences during their internship/semester abroad in weekly written/audio reports published on the website of CampusRadio and to discuss these online

Courses: The Use of New Media as a Means of Scientific Competence

  • Human Rights Online Platform
  • Reflections of Internship/Exchange Semester

Requirements

The number of places on the course is limited. Admission to the course is based on availability, timely application, qualifications of the applicant and is also subject to the general admission requirements of the University of Vienna. After successful admission to the course, students must enrol at the University of Vienna within the scheduled dates.

In addition to these formal admission requirements ranking is based on candidates meeting the following criteria:

  1. Candidates must hold at least a bachelor degree (180 ECTS) of any discipline. Persons without any academic degree need to prove five years of working experience in a field related to human rights.
  2. Those who do not have English as their first language or who did not graduate from an English language programme must include evidence of English language proficiency (e.g. TOEFL or IELTS – see below).
  3. Experience in the human rights field is not compulsory, but an asset

Language Proficiency

All classes will be taught in English.
All non-native speakers must demonstrate their English proficiency with:

    1. A test result in the International English Testing System (IELTS, 6.5 pt minimum)

OR

    1. A Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), internet based test 100pt minimum, with the following minimum section requirements:
      Reading: 20, Listening: 20
      Speaking: 20, Writing: 20

  1. Students with a first or second degree with the English language as a medium of instruction do not have to submit a TOEFL or IELTS test report, but need a statement from their university that their education language was in English.

English Language Requirements

IELTS band: 6.5
CAE score: 80 (Grade A)
TOEFL iBT® test: 100

Work Experience

At least 5 year(s) of work experience are required.

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Accreditation

The number of places on the course is limited. Admission to the course is based on availability, timely application, qualifications of the applicant and is also subject to the general admission requirements of the University of Vienna. After successful admission to the course, students must enrol at the University of Vienna within the scheduled dates.

In addition to these formal admission requirements ranking is based on candidates meeting the following criteria:

1. Candidates must hold at least a bachelor degree (180 ECTS) of any discipline. Persons without any academic degree need to prove five years of working experience in a field related to human rights.

2. Those who do not have English as their first language or who did not graduate from an English language programme must include evidence of English language proficiency (e.g. TOEFL , IELTS).

3. Experience in the human rights field is not compulsory, but an asset

For further information visit our website on http: // humanrights.univie.ac.at

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