Course description

The MA programme in Human Rights and Multi-level Governance is a contribution to developing a universal culture of human rights such as highlighted by Unesco and the United Nations. Accordingly, it has a strong policy- and action-oriented approach. This master's degree is in full continuity with previous post-graduate programmes in human rights, taught in Italian, that the University of Padua has been delivering since 1988.

The MA aims at developing ad-hoc knowledge and skills to promote and fulfil human rights within the broader context of legal and political processes and multi-level policies. Human rights law, multi-level governance framework, and the concepts of “human development” and “human security” are the paradigm of reference throughout the course.

The multi-level approach allows combining international trends analysis and an in-depth study of local policies. The programme’s research and lecturing activities reflect the transnational and transcultural dimensions of human rights studies.

Courses, in English, are in seminar form and promote the active participation of students in the class. Internships in qualified agencies and supervised research are encouraged. The MA includes special modules with the participation of practitioners of European and international organisations and academic institution.

The programme encourages study experiences abroad financed under student mobility programmes and bilateral agreements. Up to five students of the Master's degree may obtain a double degree in international relations spending the second year of the course at the Polish University of Wroclaw.

The programme promotes extra-curricular education opportunities in cooperation with the Human Rights Centre “Antonio Papisca” of the Padova University and other non-academic institutions and bodies. Such initiatives include a study trip to United Nations Human Rights bodies in Geneva, the Winter School “Microfinance in Action” in Nepal, the simulation exercise on refugees and migrants with the Italian Red Cross, the “Human trafficking simulation-based” organised by the OSCE/Office of the Special Representative for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings.

The programme assists students to find suitable internship opportunities with qualified governmental and nongovernmental institutions, in Italy and abroad.

The MA in Human Rights and Multi-level Governance is supported by the Human Rights Centre “Antonio Papisca” established within the University of Padova in 1982 as a laboratory for multidisciplinary research and post-graduate education and training in the field of human rights.

Thanks to the initiative of the Centre, the University of Padova can now offer a complete 3+2+3 (bachelor, master, PhD) specialised human rights training to young students aiming to become human rights experts: the Degree Course in Political Science, International Relations, Human Rights, the MA Degree Programme in Human Rights and Multi-level Governance, and the international joint PhD programme in Human Rights, Society, and Multi-level Governance.

Between 1997 and 2003, the Centre launched and coordinated the European Master Degree in Human Rights and Democratisation (41 European universities awarding a joint Master’s degree, funded by the EU).

The Centre hosts the UNESCO Chair “Human rights, democracy and peace” of the University of Padova and the Jean Monnet European Centre of Excellence “Intercultural dialogue, human rights and multi-level governance”.

The Centre edits the Italian Yearbook of Human Rights. The Yearbook intends to take stock of how the international human rights monitoring system assesses Italy's performance, in order to provoke an informed and open debate on this fundamental feature of public life. The Italian version is published by Padova University Press; the English version is published by Peter Lang International Academic Publishers (Brussels).

The Centre edits Peace Human Rights Governance (PHRG), an open-access academic peer-reviewed journal published three times a year in English by Padova University Press. It constitutes an innovative scientific resource within the increasing and multi-faceted global human rights studies community, which aims to present original contributions to current human rights issues while actively favouring the development of a solid multi- and inter-disciplinary, and multi-level approach to human rights research and dissemination.

Since 1989 the Centre has been managing a rich database entitled “Peace Human Rights Archives”, which is functioning on the basis of a Veneto Region law on human rights and peace.

During its decades-long experience, the Centre has also developed strong network relations with academic institutions, public authorities at the local, national, European and international levels, NGOs and schools. The Centre is active in several international human rights networks, among others: the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation, the Universities Against the Death Penalty, the Association of Human Rights Institutions, the Global Unesco Chairs system, Scholars at Risk Network.

Several alumni are now competent officers within international organisations engaged in human rights protection (United Nations, European Commission, the EU Council’s COHOM, OSCE), as well as programme managers in renowned international NGOs.

Course structure

1st year

  • International Law of Human Rights (9)
  • Human Rights and International Justice (6) or Microfinance for Social Change (6)
  • European Union Law and Human Rights (6) or Children’s Rights (Save the Children Chair) (6)
  • Human Rights in International Politics (6)
  • Theory and Practice of Multi-level Governance (6)
  • Women’s Human Rights (6)
  • History of International Organisations (6)
  • Economics of Human Capital (6) or Economic Globalisation and Human Rights (6)
  • Elective courses (12)

2nd year

  • Culture, Society, and Human Rights (6) or Religions and Human Rights (6)
  • Social Research Methods (6)
  • Constitutional Development and Democratisation (6)
  • The Language of Advocacy (6)
  • Second language (6) (Advanced French Language, Advanced Spanish Language, Advanced German Language, Serbian-Croatian Language, Czech and Slovak Language, Slovenian Language, Russian Language, Portuguese-Brazilian Language).
  • Internship (9)
  • Dissertation (18)

Career opportunities

The programme is addressed to ambitious and active students, endowed with a sheer interest in human rights policies, both local and global, willing to achieve an excellent theoretical and academic knowledge, engage in a multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural environment (the MA is attended by a high percentage of non-Italian students) and develop the technical skills and ethical attitudes required to professionally address the challenge of making human rights work. Change needs principled specialists and skilled activists.

The MA is aimed at training specialised operators for qualified positions in the field of multi-level governance connected to the implementation of human rights.

Job positions suitable for MA graduates are, among others: human rights officer in international organisations and agencies, in the diplomatic service, and in the local and national public sector; officer in ombudsperson and national institutions for human rights structures; expert staff in electoral observation and human rights monitoring missions; programme and field officer of humanitarian aid, democratic institution-building, and technical assistance units; expert staff in any governmental or non-governmental structure implementing public policies on human rights, equal opportunities, non-discrimination, women's and persons with disabilities' rights; project manager of non-governmental organisations' specialised units; expert staff of intercultural mediation agencies; officer in social and consumers' rights advocacy agencies; expert staff of ethical committees; expert personnel of social responsibility units and international relations departments of corporate organisations; journalist and expert in the media sector; staff in research and planning structures of trade unions, political parties, non-profit organisations.

The course provides access to doctoral programmes in Political Science, Law, Sociology, including the Joint PhD Programme in “Human Rights, Society, and Multi-level Governance” at the Universities of Padova, Zagreb, Panteion-Athens, Western Sydney, and Nicosia.

Entry requirements

Curricular requisites and adequate educational background

Applicants are expected to hold a degree which ensures:

1) Competencies developed in the following disciplinary fields:

Interdisciplinary subjects: Area of Historical, philosophical, pedagogical and psychological sciences and/or Area of economic and statistical sciences

  • Law: Area of legal sciences
  • Socio-political studies: Area of political and social sciences.

2) Linguistic proficiency: reasonable command of French, Spanish or German, in addition to a very good command of English.

3) Academic attainment: a degree classification equivalent to at least 100/110 in the Italian system.

Should it not be possible to properly assess the candidate’s background in accordance with the curricular requisites set forth above, a Commission will decide on the admission based on the candidate’s overall academic career and CV.

A ranking list will be drawn up of non-EU citizens not residing in Italy to be used if the number of eligible candidates exceeds the number of places available (56).

Program taught in:

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Last updated December 13, 2018
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Oct. 2019
2 years
2,504 EUR
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