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What our LLM students say

Rebecca Graham

Studying at the Transitional Justice Institute has been a touchstone decision for me. I have been deeply enriched personally, and professionally by my student experiences.

The small classes, and one-on-one supervision, allow you to connect with teachers and peers proving endless opportunities for deeper understanding of the material.

The abundant and consistent activities relating to your discipline in the larger Northern Ireland community allow you to access diverse approaches to the discipline beyond the classroom.Off-site access to research and reading material is incredibly extensive and supplemented by a dedicated and wonderful library staff who are well versed in your discipline and the resources available to you.

Despite their academic significance, TJI faculty and staff are warm, open, approachable, and supportive of your goals. They are leaders in legal research disciplines and respected experts often engaged by regional, and international legal bodies to provide authoritative insight into the practical application of human rights and transitional justice mechanisms. Students are learning directly from scholars who understand the difference between theory and practice, and are continually working in the wider world to align both successfully. They are inspirational individuals and educators. TJI’s programmes are second to none, offering a 1st class international education to any student who wishes to have a greater understanding of Human Rights Law, global legal mechanisms and Transitional Justice. I highly recommend this programme and study in general at the University of Ulster.

Sakura Atsumi

My experience at the Transitional Justice Institute this year can only be expressed as absolutely wonderful. Having worked for almost 20 years, mainly in the field, with the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, initially I was concerned about taking a year out and coming back to studies. However, I was not “the oldest one!” and was positively surprised by the students’ diversity, both of experience and of background.

The year was tough in terms of getting back into academic reading and studies, but at the same time, it was a wonderful experience to explore so much of the different perspectives related to human rights law, gender and transitional justice. I never had the pleasure and luxury to be intellectually stimulated by so many remarkable professors and lecturers, who are frontline academic practitioners. They were passionate about their subject matter and liberal in sharing their knowledge and experiences. There were also some distinguished external speakers coming in to have a frank discussion about their views and experiences. The small tutorials were brilliant opportunity to exchange ideas, to ask plenty of questions, and to test out thoughts in a safe environment.

Overall, I had the most amazing year and opportunities which I will cherish and draw upon as I go back to work. I am also very grateful to my classmates from whom I learnt so much. For sure, I will continue to be in touch with them wherever in the world we may all be in!

Siobhan Curran

I would highly recommend the LLM in Human Rights Law and Transitional Justice to anybody seeking to develop their knowledge and to work in these fields.  Developing and discussing feminist and critical perspectives were an integral component of this course.  This was a major opportunity to discuss and examine complex human rights issues with lecturers with huge expertise and engaged in cutting edge research.

Courses covered key areas of human rights law and transitional justice including foundations of international human rights law; gender and transition; conflict resolution; economic, social and cultural rights and equality law.  I found the approaches to the courses, the topics examined and discussions prompted in class to be extremely engaging and space was given for nuanced and complex discussions.  Class sizes are kept small and allow for in depth discussion and debates and very open access to lecturers.  Also, of crucial importance was the linking of academia with other sectors and the fact that alongside course work the institute provided access to academic and NGO seminars and conferences on key human rights issues.

While completing the course I worked with Amnesty International Ireland and the learning from the course on gender, conflict resolution and peace-building hugely enhanced my analysis and thus advocacy skills in relation to these issues.

Since completing the course I now work with a national Traveller and Roma rights organisation with a significant human rights component in my work.  This has allowed me to work on developing human rights submissions to UN and European bodies and to travel to Geneva for human rights hearings.  The skills I learnt at the Transitional Justice Institute have been integral to this.

Wendy Isaack

I highly recommend this course to all prospective transitional justice scholars and human rights advocates interested in gaining insight into the complex world of conflict resolution and peace-building. As a South African-based attorney, I was very pleased to have had the incredible opportunity during the 2005/6 academic year to do the LLM in Human Rights Law and Transitional Justice at the Transitional Justice Institute, Jordanstown campus. The TJI academic staff is in my view the most highly regarded scholars in the transitional justice field. The course gave me an opportunity to really understand and appreciate the complexity of the conflict resolution and negotiation process followed in my own country, South Africa.

Significantly, while writing my dissertation, I was able to travel to Europe through support provided by the TJI supported and complete a 1month internship programme in Geneva where I worked with other scholars in monitoring and analyzing the official reports of the Human Rights Council. Having graduated with distinction, I thereafter spent three years at the United Nations in New York working with human rights experts to develop guidance for UN Member States regarding the protection of women in times of armed conflict and in particular, ensuring that transitional justice mechanisms are responsive to women’s concerns and interests. I truly believe that the programme gave me the sound theoretical grounding to be able to do this work at the UN level.

As I head off to the Harvard Kennedy School of Government for the 2014/15 academic year, I am taking with me the knowledge and skills, academic rigor and commitment to social justice that was further reinforced during the time I spent at the TJI.

Sean Molloy

Having completed a LLB Law at Queen’s University Belfast, I opted to continue my studies through the LLM Human Rights Law and Transitional Justice at the Transitional Justice Institute. From the offset I found the whole experience and setting to be immensely conducive to individual and personal development.

The course introduces you to new and exciting concepts in relation to various aspects of law, and enables the development of ideas and views in relation to human rights, international criminal law and international humanitarian law. Unique to this course is the opportunity to test and explore these concepts in societies emerging from conflict or undemocratic rule.

The staff at the TJI are also immensely helpful and encourage you to form and harness your own views. The interactive nature of this course ensures that you are given the opportunity to express your positions and learn from those of your peers. Equally unique to this course is the opportunity to engage with guest lecturers, and undertake internships specific to the course.

Following completion of the LLM I worked as a research assistant for a human rights solicitor before undertaking a PhD in Law at the University of Edinburgh: opportunities that I would simply not have had without undertaking LLM. I would whole heartedly recommend this course as an almost necessary prerequisite for a career in human rights or transitional justice.

Ivanley Noisette (Mitchell Scholar)

The Human Rights Law and Transitional Justice, LLM program together with the Transitional Justice Institute (TJI) at the University of Ulster (UU) provides a comprehensive overview of the historical evolution of international human rights law and international humanitarian law.

Students explore the major human rights issues in transitional societies and the legal frameworks of international and regional systems of justice. The course boasts an impressive seminar series featuring speakers at the forefront of human rights work from around the world.

Unlike other post-graduate human rights programs, UU prefers small, seminar-style modules that provide the in-depth analyses and erudite discussions that students need to fully appreciate the nuance and interconnectedness of major themes.

The program also administers a superlative internship placement program with organizations such as: the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, and the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities.

With faculty and staff at the cutting edge of human rights scholarship and advocacy, both the academic program and TJI are recognized as pioneers in the field of human rights in the transitional context. Finally, what distinguishes this program from other human rights programs is its location in Northern Ireland- -currently one of the most important transitional justice case studies in the world.

Daniel McChrystal

I attended the LLM programme at the Magee campus after finishing an undergraduate Law degree at QUB and couldn’t have asked for a better place or course to study. The subjects are definitely challenging but incredibly interesting as well as unique to Northern Ireland. The teaching staff was helpful with understanding complex topics and their experience offer a unique, hands on insight into some of the topics being studied and the reality of human rights law in practice.

The course also offers a wide range of seminars, intern and work opportunities for students in order to expand beyond the classes and provide opportunities for forwarding your career. The staff encourage students to research new topics not yet examined by the course in order to contribute to the work of TJI. I was allowed to focus my dissertation on United Nations Peacekeeping and Human Rights Law, something I had not studied in the modules and was awarded a Distinction. Due to the wide range of topics that can be studied and the freedom to explore areas of personal interest the course opens up a lot of doors.

As a direct result of completing the course I am now working as a researcher for the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. I would recommend this course to anyone.

Kevin Hearty

Having taken 2 years out of full time academic study prior to commencing the LLM in Human Rights Law and Transitional Justice at the Transitional Justice Institute, I was initially unsure whether I had made the right decision to take the plunge back into full time academic study.

Within the first few minutes of the first class that doubt was emphatically dispelled. I found that the LLM programme on offer at the TJI offers a unique insight into the transition of post-conflict states, and enables students to compare and contrast the transitional process in Northern Ireland with other similar processes around the globe. Most helpful is the fact that rather than take the traditional ‘lecture’ style format the LLM is structured around seminar style delivery, with expert lectures and students engaging in thought provoking and stimulating exchanges on many issues.

The strength of the programme, from my experience, was the sheer breadth of the programme with modules addressing gender equality, memory studies, human rights law and ‘dealing with the past’ all being delivered by expert researchers with a clear passion for their field. One particular strength that I noted was the ability of TJI staff to ask the ‘difficult questions’ in terms of human rights compliance and of the transition in Northern Ireland.

In addition to expert researchers the TJI seminar series involving members of NGO’s, policy makers, learned academics from outside the TJI also proved invaluable in gaining an insight into wider issues of interest. The course not only offers prospective students an opportunity to galvanise their existing interest in human rights law and transitional justice but also presents an opportunity to embark further on a career in the field.

Indeed the enthusiasm showing by the teaching staff during my time on the LLM course convinced me to pursue PhD studies at the TJI. In the course of this further study I have found that my knowledge of key areas is not only being increased immeasurably by the groundbreaking research of TJI colleagues but that my own personal interest in many areas of transitional justice and human rights has been newly aroused. It is for these exact reasons that I would wholeheartedly encourage anyone with an interest in human rights law and transitional justice to enrol on the brilliant LLM course offered by the TJI.

Sharlene McGee

Committed to a career in social justice and women’s rights consciousness-raising, the innovative Gender, Conflict and Human Rights LLM has provided me with a greater insight of the gendered power dynamics of the international human rights regime. My understanding of world issues has broadened as a result of the LLM programme, facilitating a comprehensive, globalised analysis of access to justice for women.

The programme’s intensive, seminar-based teaching establishes a singular academic experience. Independent reading that informs each seminar allows the students to engage fully in collaborative sessions with tutors - experts in their fields - that are both challenging and rewarding. The LLM programme has left me equipped with a command of the theoretical concepts at play, and it has enabled me to harness a fresh and meaningful perspective that will assert accountability in activating access to justice.

The TJI’s collaborative atmosphere has granted me the sense of being part of a dynamic academic community that is at the forefront of its field. Visiting speakers with specialities that span a wide range of human rights issues bolster the energies of the TJI and provide for the intellectual stimulation of the students, as issues of the day are tackled from different academic perspectives. Hosting a Northern Ireland Human Rights Festival event that brought together key local human rights advocates, and the opportunity help organise a symposium that gathered together international gender and human rights experts were two of the year’s highlights.

The opportunities for internships with highly respected local organisations who are engaged in the pursuit of social justice is an invaluable asset to the LLM programme. I worked with the Law Centre on their human trafficking policy-drafting project. Being able to apply the knowledge I had garnered through the year’s teaching in the practical context of a fast moving, contemporary policy-making setting was both gratifying and inspiring. Along with the year’s teaching, the chance to see the application of theoretical approaches up close has motivated me to pursue further research in this important field of study in the next stage of my career.