Program Description

The Asia Pacific Master of Arts in Human Rights and Democratization (APMA) is a 12-month intensive, interdisciplinary graduate program jointly offered by the Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies of Mahidol University (Thailand), Ateneo de Manila University (Philippines, Kathmandu School of Law (Nepal), University of Colombo (Sri Lanka), and Universitas Gadjah Madah (Indonesia). The program reflects the inseparable links between human rights, democracy, peace, and development in the Asia Pacific region.

The program is designed for those seeking greater understanding of regional and global human rights and democratization issues. The program is suitable for human rights practitioners and activists, for those engaged in related fields, or for new students who have just completed their first degree.

By the end of the program, students will have:

1) Excellent knowledge of theory and practice of the promotion and protection of human rights and democratization.
2) Tested their ability to undertake independent scholarly research on current human rights and democratization issues in the Asia Pacific region;
3) The capacity to put their academic understanding of human rights and democratization to use in real situations.

Programme Structure

Students take up eight courses over the two semesters. These courses include:

Human Rights and Democratization Research
Human Rights and Democratization Intensive
Human Rights and Democratization Practicum
Practical Skills in Human Rights Protection and Promotion
Concepts of Human Rights and Democratization
Human Rights Norms and Mechanisms

In addition, students are required to take up an Applied Research course where they get to choose whether to conduct an internship with a human rights organization or write an applied research paper in cooperation with a human rights organization.

Students take four courses during the first semester in Mahidol University, which is August to December of the academic year. In January of the second semester, students take part in the Intensive Course, a series of lectures and field work on a particular human rights issue that changes yearly. Examples of issues include Borders, Migration, and Human Rights (AY 2018-2019), Development and Human Rights (AY 2019-2020) and Critical and Emerging Human Rights Issues (AY 2022-2023).

Students then proceed to their chosen partner university (Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines, Kathmandu School of Law in Nepal, University of Colombo in Sri Lanka, or Universitas Gadjah Madah in Indonesia), where they take their remaining courses.

Graduation requirements

-successful submission and defense of a master’s thesis.
-publication in internationally recognized academic journal OR oral presentation in an international seminar of a paper related to your thesis topic
-completion of eight courses with a Cumulative Grade Point Average of 3.0  and no grade below 3.0 for any course.


Each student is required to submit an original thesis on an approved topic. The thesis length is between 14,000-18,000 words.

The dissertation is an important part of the APMA program. Research is mostly done using primary sources or by using a fresh approach to an existing debate in human rights and democratization. The aim of the thesis is to develop the student’s skills in research and academic writing while producing an original piece of research.