Course Outline

The MA Human Rights course spreads across 2 full semesters of classes, with a research project beginning during the second semester. Most students complete the course within 12 – 18 months. The course is full time with 12 hours of classes each week along with assigned reading and coursework. The course is designed to prepare students with the theoretical knowledge and practical skills for working in the field of human rights, and to develop the students’ abilities to conduct academic research.

Students’ progress is assessed using coursework spread over the 2 semesters, rather than exams. The use of coursework allows students to apply their knowledge to areas of human rights relevant to their interests and experience. See below for more information about the classes.

The 3rd semester focuses on the thesis element. A thesis is an important part of graduate study, as it allows students to apply their new research skills and to gain a detailed understanding of the fields which interest them.



You can download the syllabuses for some of our courses here:


Human Rights Theory / Democratisation Syllabus (Download)

Human Rights Theory / Democratisation Syllabus (Read Online)



“The MA Human Rights courses are designed to offer students a genuinely inter-disciplinary social science approach to the study of Human Rights. The courses draw on the rich and diverse research expertise of the lecturers and reflect the MA program’s commitment to educating students in critical-minded, Asia-based perspectives on human rights laws, human rights practices and human rights scholarship.” – Coeli Barry, Chair of MA Human Rights Program

Semester 1 

International Human Rights Norms:

“This is one of the foundational classes because you get an understanding of what human rights are, not only in the international treaties, declarations and principles, but what they are in terms of a philosophy. This class tries to unpack not only what human rights are, but why all humans have those rights. Understanding the why question is as crucial as understanding the what. It is one thing to know what your human rights are, but it is another thing to be able to defend them as an idea and as a legal entitlement that we all have.” – Matt Mullen, Lecturer

Protection Mechanisms:

“This course examines how human rights are protected. Just because a human right exist on paper means little unless there is some kind of mechanism to protect it. The course examines these mechanisms, from the big large international ones like the UN to smaller ones like national courts or local NGOs.” – Mike Hayes, Lecturer

Human Rights Theory:

“Theory is vital to being able to think in creative and new ways and the study of the region of Asia presents endless opportunities and challenges to understand modernity and post-modernity. This course provides an introduction to major disciplinary approaches to human rights, namely philosophical, social scientific and legal approaches, it also considers an interdisciplinary approach to the development of theories and concepts of human rights from western and non-western perspectives and performs a critical analysis of contemporary debates on human rights.” – Coeli Barry, Lecturer

Elective Course x1:


Semester 2

Human Rights and International Relations:

‘”This course looks at how international actors, such as countries and international organizations, work with human rights. This includes the formulation and implementation of foreign policy, the structures around issues like migration, and the skills of diplomacy.” – Mike Hayes, Lecturer

Research Methods:

“Research Methods course introduces essential academic skills, including searching for academic reading documents, reading, analyzing and writing academic papers like scholars. This course could help students to create scholarly papers that can educate global community.” – Naparat Kranrattanasuit, Lecturer

Human Rights of Marginalised Groups:

“Human Rights of Marginalized Groups course encourages students to explore human rights violation against vulnerable groups of people including persons with disabilities, human trafficking victims, asylum seeker and refugees, stateless, ethnic groups, etc. This course could persuade students to present human rights violations, to apply concepts/theories/norms to case studies, to voice their interdisciplinary views/opinions on behalf of specific vulnerable groups. ” – Naparat Kranrattanasuit, Lecturer



For the thesis element, students can focus on the field of their choice. Faculty at IHRP help guide students to find innovative, original, and useful research questions within their field. With regular support from an assigned supervisor (which expertise in the field of the research), the students do extensive background reading followed by field research and first hand data collection. The final written thesis must be defended to a committee of internal and external academics before completion. The MA Human Rights program provides students with ample time to study their research topic in depth, leading to a detailed understanding of the field and findings which are of practical use in the pursuit of human rights.

Here are some examples of thesis topics by previous students:

  • Pre-trial detention and human rights in Sri Lanka
  • The right to work: Dutch policies and practices concerning refugees right to work when claiming asylum
  • Exploring the need of human rights education in Pakistani schools
  • Participation of women in free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) process of the UN-REDD program in Vietnam
  • The road to recognition of the hill tribes as indigenous peoples in Thailand
  • Understanding the mental health impacts of human rights violations: Case study of labour trafficking in Thailand
  • Western Sahara dispute: From the political legacy of decolonization to autonomy
  • Neither lady nor boy: Interrogating the case for the third gender in Thailand
  • Anti-immigration rhetoric in the United States: Immigration, citizenship and human rights


Week Outline

Normally students on the MA Human Rights program will study 4 classes each semester, with the option of attending an academic skills class and open clinic for advice on essay writing, presentations, research, and how to get the most out of your time at IHRP.

All classes are 3 hours long, so you will spend 12 hours a week in class, and then additional time (approximately how long – maybe quotes from students) working on assignments, group projects and reading to support your studies. You can take a look at the 2016/17 time table below, to get an idea of the weekly schedule. The class schedule may be changed for the 2017/18 academic year, but we try our best to leave Fridays free so our students can have time to travel around Thailand. Occasionally class times may be adjusted for one week, so that our students can have the opportunity to attend some of the workshops, guest lectures and events which take place at IHRP.