Goldsmiths, University of London

Course Introduction

In this course we take seriously the complexity of constructions of human rights. The course will help students to understand what is behind a range of contemporary issues concerning justice in a globalising world. Students will learn how to conceptualise and to study the possibilities of human rights, going beyond legal formulations to look at the conditions in which human rights claims are made and the range of actors involved in making them. In order to do so students will learn about how human rights are constructed, exploring framings of human rights through case studies; and students will begin to practice some of the methodologies and methods that are currently used in NGOs and grassroots activist networks trying to remedy global injustices.

Course Modules

In the first part of the course students will take the core course, constructing human rights, in which they will be introduced to debates over the possibilities of human rights, different ways of conceiving culture and the role that is played by a diverse range of organisations involved in challenging injustices connected to globalisation. Students will also consider practical attempts to realise human rights. Students will also take two short, skills'based courses, organising justice (and) methodologies for organising, in which they will be introduced to methods and skills (eg evaluating user engagement, team'building and decision'making through role play, tracing the media impact of a campaign) that will be of direct practical use in working for NGOs. In the second term you will make use of some of the skills you have learned in a placement with an NGO or grassroots activist network. Assessment of this practical work will involve writing up a project that you will have carried out during the placement. (You may choose an alternative assessment in discussion with the course convenor.) You will also choose an option course. While the core modules of the programme are taught by lecturers in sociology, you may choose your option course from those that are run in sociology or elsewhere in college, including in the departments of politics, media and communications, and anthropology. Finally you will write a dissertation based on research you will carry out, possibly related to the NGO or network you have worked in, and making use of a range of concepts and methods taught in the department. You will be supervised by someone with expertise and interest in the topic you are studying and the methodologies and methods you plan to use.

Course Additional Entry

An undergraduate degree of at least 2nd Class standard in a relevant/related subject.

Duration & Attendance Qualification Tuition fees
1 year
Full Time
MA (Postgraduate)
2 years
Part Time
MA (Postgraduate)