The LLM course based at the Transitional Justice Institute, with staff expertise across a range of areas offers an LLM degree which is designed to give students a unique lens on the study of human rights in the contemporary international moment. Using the local Northern Ireland political and legal context as a starting point the course will imbue students with a working knowledge of international norms and principles, while at the same time encouraging students to move beyond the local to reflect critically on present international law norms and their application to other situations and contexts. Students are encouraged to develop and transfer knowledge, experience and expertise of the transformative possibilities of human rights law both in respect of societies emerging from violent conflict and in relation to the local and global management of other particular societal problems. This dual focus – from the local to the global and back - is a core part of the course’s aim to equip you with the knowledge and skills base to contribute internationally as well as locally.
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The Transitional Justice Institute in Northern Ireland is uniquely placed to deliver an effective and stimulating programme of study in this area. Key highlights of the programme include:
• Opportunity to undertake an LLM programme with a specific focus on gender and transitional justice – the only LLM programme of its type in the UK or Ireland;
• Teaching is delivered by active researchers in the TJI, many of whom have received international recognition for their work;
• Gain unique insights into the differential legal protection of human rights of women and men in transitional contexts, while studying in a society currently in a process of transition;
• Take advantage of the opportunities to specialise in identified areas e.g. human rights, transitional justice, peace and conflict research in divided societies;
• Enhance the skills you need for working with gender and human rights in a range of sectors;
• Internship opportunities with a range of organizations. In previous years students have secured internships with the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, Disability Action (Centre on Human Rights), Human Rights Consortium, Law Centre (NI) and Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities (NICEM), all based in Belfast;
• Extensive events programme (TJI Seminar Series, International Conferences) and distinguished Visiting Scholars programme.
• Excellent library facilities on campus. Students also have sole access to a dedicated LLM computer suite.
Attendance is compulsory for successful completion of the LLM .Modules are delivered through weekly half-day classes or fortnightly full-day classes.
Teaching, Learning and Assessment
Teaching, learning and assessment
The content for each course is summarised on the relevant course page, along with an overview of the modules that make up the course.
Each course is approved by the University and meets the expectations of:
the requirements of any professional, regulatory, statutory and accrediting bodies.
Attendance and Independent Study
As part of your course induction, you will be provided with details of the organisation and management of the course, including attendance and assessment requirements - usually in the form of a timetable. For full-time courses, the precise timetable for each semester is not confirmed until close to the start date and may be subject to some change in the early weeks as all courses settle into their planned patterns. For part-time courses which require attendance on particular days and times, an expectation of the days and periods of attendance will be included in the letter of offer. A course handbook is also made available.
Courses comprise modules for which the notional effort involved is indicated by its credit rating. Each credit point represents 10 hours of student effort. Undergraduate courses typically contain 10, 20, or 40 credit modules (more usually 20) and postgraduate courses typically 15 or 30 credit modules.
The normal study load expectation for an undergraduate full-time course of study in the standard academic year is 120 credit points. This amounts to around 36-42 hours of expected teaching and learning per week, inclusive of attendance requirements for lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical work, fieldwork or other scheduled classes, private study, and assessment. Teaching and learning activities will be in-person and/or online depending on the nature of the course. Part-time study load is the same as full-time pro-rata, with each credit point representing 10 hours of student effort.
Postgraduate Master’s courses typically comprise 180 credits, taken in three semesters when studied full-time. A Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) comprises 60 credits and can usually be completed on a part-time basis in one year. A 120-credit Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) can usually be completed on a part-time basis in two years.
Class contact times vary by course and type of module. Typically, for a module predominantly delivered through lectures you can expect at least 3 contact hours per week (lectures/seminars/tutorials). Laboratory classes often require a greater intensity of attendance in blocks. Some modules may combine lecture and laboratory. The precise model will depend on the course you apply for and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. Prospective students will be consulted about any significant changes.
Assessment methods vary and are defined explicitly in each module. Assessment can be a combination of examination and coursework but may also be only one of these methods. Assessment is designed to assess your achievement of the module’s stated learning outcomes. You can expect to receive timely feedback on all coursework assessments. This feedback may be issued individually and/or issued to the group and you will be encouraged to act on this feedback for your own development.
Coursework can take many forms, for example: essay, report, seminar paper, test, presentation, dissertation, design, artefacts, portfolio, journal, group work. The precise form and combination of assessment will depend on the course you apply for and the module. Details will be made available in advance through induction, the course handbook, the module specification, the assessment timetable and the assessment brief. The details are subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.
Normally, a module will have 4 learning outcomes, and no more than 2 items of assessment. An item of assessment can comprise more than one task. The notional workload and the equivalence across types of assessment is standardised. The module pass mark for undergraduate courses is 40%. The module pass mark for postgraduate courses is 50%.
Calculation of the Final Award
The class of Honours awarded in Bachelor’s degrees is usually determined by calculation of an aggregate mark based on performance across the modules at Levels 5 and 6, (which correspond to the second and third year of full-time attendance).
Level 6 modules contribute 70% of the aggregate mark and Level 5 contributes 30% to the calculation of the class of the award. Classification of integrated Master’s degrees with Honours include a Level 7 component. The calculation in this case is: 50% Level 7, 30% Level 6, 20% Level 5. At least half the Level 5 modules must be studied at the University for Level 5 to be included in the calculation of the class.
All other qualifications have an overall grade determined by results in modules from the final level of study. In Master’s degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.
Figures correct for academic year 2022-2023.
The University employs over 1,000 suitably qualified and experienced academic staff - 60% have PhDs in their subject field and many have professional body recognition.
Courses are taught by staff who are Professors (19%), Readers, Senior Lecturers (22%) or Lecturers (57%).
We require most academic staff to be qualified to teach in higher education: 82% hold either Postgraduate Certificates in Higher Education Practice or higher. Most academic and learning support staff (85%) are recognised as fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) by Advance HE - the university sector professional body for teaching and learning. Many academic and technical staff hold other professional body designations related to their subject or scholarly practice.
The profiles of many academic staff can be found on the University’s departmental websites and give a detailed insight into the range of staffing and expertise. The precise staffing for a course will depend on the department(s) involved and the availability and management of staff. This is subject to change annually and is confirmed in the timetable issued at the start of the course.
Occasionally, teaching may be supplemented by suitably qualified part-time staff (usually qualified researchers) and specialist guest lecturers. In these cases, all staff are inducted, mostly through our staff development programme ‘First Steps to Teaching’. In some cases, usually for provision in one of our out-centres, Recognised University Teachers are involved, supported by the University in suitable professional development for teaching.
Figures correct for academic year 2022-2023.
Belfast Campus Location
The Belfast campus is situated in the artistic and cultural centre of the city, the Cathedral Quarter.
Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.
Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.
This module will examine the role of documentary film in advocacy and activism; the range of films that have been used human rights research and advocacy; and the practical challenges of using film to raise awareness of the need for a human rights investigation or policy change, including ethical considerations, managing expectations, the campaigning process, and budgeting.
Gender, Conflict and Transition
This module is optional
This module provides an introduction to issues of gender in transitional justice. The module focuses on the evolving legal treatment of harms against women in situations of conflict under international law. In addition, non-prosecutorial responses to such harms, such as truth commissions and reparations programmes, are considered.
Memory, Transition and Conflict
This module is optional
`Memory, Conflict and Transition' is an optional module which seeks to encourage socio-legal and social science analyses surrounding the out-workings of political violence in transitional societies with the emphasis on divided societies. Key issues will include the legitimisation of political violence, the construction of victim hierarchies, theories of social memory, collective memory and conflict resolution and political transformation, and the interplay between memory, identity and conflict in transitional societies. The module will also advance knowledge in a developing pillar of transitional justice policy making and academic analysis, the use of commemoration and memorialisation.
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
This module is optional
Day 1. ESCRs: Nature, Concepts and Measurement
Session one: On the Nature of ESCRs
Session two: Progressive Realization of ESCRs: Concept and Measurement
Day 2. Domestic and Regional Protection of ESCRs
Session one: ESCRs in Domestic Legal Systems
Session two: ESCRs in Regional Human Rights Systems
Day 3. Selected Substantive ESCRs
Session one: The Right to Health
Session two: The Right to Work and Education
This module is optional
This module introduces the students to core principles of equality law, with a focus upon the law of Northern Ireland but in the context of British, European, comparative constitutional and international law. It examines a spectrum of non-discrimination and equality law concepts and their enforcement over the key grounds and considers the future development of equality law.
International Humanitarian Law in Transitional Justice Contexts
This module is optional
This module considers the international law rules which govern whether and when States are entitled to use armed force, including the prohibition of the use of force contained in the UN Charter as well as the exceptions to that prohibition. In particular, we will examine the arguments on the legitimacy of humanitarian intervention and the responsibility to protect doctrine. The main part of the course examines the law that applies during an armed conflict. We begin by considering the distinction between the law applicable to international armed conflicts and that applicable to non-international armed conflicts. In this part of the module, we will gain an overview of the "Geneva law" relating to the humanitarian protection of victims of armed conflict and the "Hague law" relating to the means and methods of warfare. In particular, we will examine the distinction between combatants and civilians and the obligation to protect civilians.
Foundations of Transitional Justice
This module aims to equip students to critically engage with the emerging field of transitional justice. Students will relate the dilemmas of societies in transition from violent conflict and/or from authoritarian regimes to the imperatives of international human rights law and international humanitarian law. Students will gain a critical understanding of the political and legal dilemmas that confront societies emerging from conflict and authoritarianism, and will critically reflect upon a wide range of transitional justice mechanisms. They will be invited to apply that legal and structural knowledge to contemporary situations of armed conflict and transition.
Dissertation Research Methods
This module provides a full range of skills which students need to be able to produce rigorous pieces of research as part of their dissertation, and prepare for professional stages and a career in human rights law and/or transitional justice. It attempts to bridge the gap between academic and practical law. The understanding of sources of public international law and study techniques including transferable skills in areas such as performing UN- research and time-management is a fundamentally skill. This understanding can then be applied to help support a practical approach to learning.
Foundations of International Human Rights Law
The module will enable the student to master the complex and specialised area of international human rights law. Students will be encouraged to develop an in-depth critical understanding of both the content of international human rights standards and the various means by which they are enforced. It will act as a foundational basis which will enable learners to study issues in greater detail in subsequent modules. These have been developed in response to the growth of new areas of interest in international human rights law. The aim will be to provide students with a degree that reflects contemporary international human rights law and enables them to make good use of the expertise of staff.
This module allows students to apply the research skills acquired and explore the issues broached in the taught modules, by conducting an effective critical investigation of an area of concern or interest in human rights law and transitional justice, and to write a report on that investigation.
Transitions from Conflict: Law and Politics
This module is optional
This module explores the ways law is politicised and the rule of law is (re)introduced to political life during transitions from conflict. It analyses the often competing political factors that influence international and national post-conflict law formation, in the forms of UN Security Council resolutions, international conventions, peace agreements and transitional constitutions to deal with legacies of mass violence. In addition, the module considers the extent to which legal actors, such as legislators, judges and lawyers, are influenced by political factors. This course complements the core Foundations of Transitional Justice module.
Transitional Justice in Comparative and Regional Perspectives
This module is optional
This module gives students the chance to explore how the myriad conceptual, legal, social and political challenges of truth, justice, reparations, reconciliation and memory interact and play out 'on the ground' in a particular region or set of countries around the world. Techniques of comparative and case study methodology drawn from social science as well as law are explored and then applied, to allow development of critical insight alongside in-depth specialist knowledge of one region or set of cases. The differences between post-authoritarian, post-conflict and ongoing conflict transitional challenges, the relationship between global and local TJ dynamics, the articulation of regional with national and international legal and political institutions, the bottom-up, civil society-driven nature of much transitional justice change, and the importance of contextual knowledge and historical, including post-colonial, sensibility for today's transitional justice scholar and practitioner will all be emphasised. This module will focus, in any given year, on one of: Latin America/ Africa/ Europe/ the Middle East
A second class Honours degree or above or equivalent recognised qualification in Law, Social Sciences, Humanities or a cognate discipline. Allowance may be made for special qualifications, experience and background, and students with other academic backgrounds will be considered, where applicants can demonstrate their ability to undertake the programme through the accreditation of prior experiential learning (APEL) or accreditation of prior learning (APL).
English Language Requirements
English language requirements for international applicants The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.
Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.
Previous graduates have gone onto positions in the local human rights sector and public sector in Northern Ireland, to legal practice in areas related to the LLM and to PhD research. Further, previous graduates have secured work in the United Nations and in international non-governmental organisations.
Work placement / study abroad
The Transitional Justice Institute works closely with a range of human rights organisations that regularly offer internship opportunities to our LLM students – including the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, Human Rights Consortium, Law Centre (NI) and Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities (NICEM).
Fees and funding
Our postgraduate fees are subject to annual increase and are currently under review.
Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission Dissertation Prize
Transitional Justice Institute Scholarship (£1,000)
Additional mandatory costs
It is important to remember that costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges) and normal living will need to be covered in addition to tuition fees.
Where a course has additional mandatory expenses (in addition to tuition fees) we make every effort to highlight them above. We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals, as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free Wi-Fi are also available on each of the campuses.
There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.
Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as a part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs, as well as tuition fees.
Although reasonable steps are taken to provide the programmes and services described, the University cannot guarantee the provision of any course or facility and the University may make variations to the contents or methods of delivery of courses, discontinue, merge or combine courses and introduce new courses if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Such circumstances include (but are not limited to) industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key staff, changes in legislation or government policy including changes, if any, resulting from the UK departing the European Union, withdrawal or reduction of funding or other circumstances beyond the University’s reasonable control.
If the University discontinues any courses, it will use its best endeavours to provide a suitable alternative course. In addition, courses may change during the course of study and in such circumstances the University will normally undertake a consultation process prior to any such changes being introduced and seek to ensure that no student is unreasonably prejudiced as a consequence of any such change.
The University does not accept responsibility (other than through the negligence of the University, its staff or agents), for the consequences of any modification or cancellation of any course, or part of a course, offered by the University but will take into consideration the effects on individual students and seek to minimise the impact of such effects where reasonably practicable.
The University cannot accept any liability for disruption to its provision of educational or other services caused by circumstances beyond its control, but the University will take all reasonable steps to minimise the resultant disruption to such services.