The MA programme in “Human Rights and Multi-level Governance” is a contribution to developing a universal culture of human rights, as recommended 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 that the University of Padua has been delivering since 1988.

The MA aims at developing 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, the multi-level governance framework, and the concepts of “sustainable human development” and “human security” are reference paradigms 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. The programme is committed to supporting equality of opportunities, diversity among students and in the teaching staff, inclusion, and non-discrimination. The course offers a truly international and multicultural environment that welcomes diversity and strive towards inclusion.

Lectures and seminars, entirely in English, promote the active participation of students in class. Internships in qualified organisations, and supervised research are encouraged. The MA includes special modules with the participation of practitioners of European and international organisations and academic institutions.

The programme encourages study experiences abroad financed under student mobility programmes and bilateral agreements. In particular, up to ten students of the Master's degree may obtain a double degree in “International relations” or in “Histoire, Théorie et Pratique des Droits de l’Homme”, by spending the second year respectively at the Polish University of Wroclaw, or in France, at the Catholic University of Lyon or at the Université de Grenoble Alpes.

The programme promotes extra-curricular education opportunities, particularly in cooperation with the Human Rights Centre “Antonio Papisca” of the Padova University. Such initiatives include: a study trip to United Nations human rights bodies in Geneva; the Winter School “Microfinance in Action” in Nepal; the Summer School on “Normativity and Reality of Human Rights” (in cooperation with the School of Advanced Studies, London University, and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden); a simulation exercise on humanitarian action, organised with the Italian Red Cross; the “Simulation-based Training on Combating Human Trafficking”, organised by the OSCE/Office of the Special Representative for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings; and a unique “Model UN” dedicated to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).

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

The MA hosts the Save the Children Chair on “Children’s Rights”, and promotes training opportunities and public initiatives with Save the Children Italy on issues of common interest.

Several alumni are now competent officers within international organisations engaged in human rights protection, including the United Nations, the EU, the OSCE), as well as programme managers in renowned international NGOs.

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 to support multidisciplinary research and post-graduate education and training in the field of human rights. The Centre also 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 (published annually in Italian and English and updating on the human rights monitoring processes involving Italy), and Peace Human Rights Governance (PHRG), an open-access academic peer-reviewed journalpublished three times a year in English by Padova University Press. Since 1989 the Centre has been managing a rich data-base 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 Global Campus for Human Rights and Democratisation, the Universities Against the Death Penalty, the Association of Human Rights Institutes, the Global Unesco Chairs system, the Scholars at Risk Network.

Thanks to the Centre, the University of Padova can 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. Moreover, the University of Padova is also partner in the European Master’s Programme in Human Rights and Democratisation, a one-year post-graduate course, funded by the EU and currently supported by a network of 41 European Universities, established in 1997 and managed until 2003 by the Human Rights Centre of the University of Padova.

Course structure

1st year

  • International Law of Human Rights (9)
  • Human Rights and International Justice (6) or Human Rights Practice (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) Refugee Human Rights Protection (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 rights, the rights of persons with disabilities; 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, 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: Areas of Historical, philosophical, pedagogical and psychological sciences and/or of economic and statistical sciences
  • Law: Area of legal sciences
    • Socio-political studies: Area of political and social sciences.

2) Linguistic proficiency: good 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).

Student testimonials

The human rights programme at the University of Padova is a unique mix of theoretical and practical studies, which allows the students to follow a rich academic path. I was able to complete my compulsory internship at the university human rights centre, which gave me the opportunity to consolidate the knowledge and skills learnt in lessons in academic environment... These opportunities are not usually available in the UK, and the whole academic system in Padova is much more accommodating for different types of students - since I have worked throughout my time at university, I needed a flexible study plan, something that this degree course definitely provided.
(Rosemary Burnham, United Kingdom).

Before I started this course I got a law degree in Russia and I wanted to continue my studies in the field of human rights. Here in Padova I found a course that offers good professors and a high and good level of education. Compared to the Russian education system, here is more flexible, you are the owner of your own study process, you can manage your time, you can build your study plan (Alina Indi – Russia).

I was searching for something about human rights and international mechanism for the protection of human rights specially to apply this kind of tools to my reality, to my community, because I came from an indigenous community. One of the most impressive experience in this course was the Geneva trip during which I had the opportunity to meet the special rapporteur on indigenous rights who told me about his work and the main institutions working on this field. For me, it was a really important occasion to take contact and see people working on the field(Daqui Lema – Ecuador).

After my bachelor’s degree and few experiences I started to think that I need to know more about human rights and I looked around to find something that would be useful for this. I found it in Padova. The town is really student friendly and the environment is very dynamic and interesting. If you are interested in human rights and humanitarian work this is the best place to start your career and to learn because your colleagues are going to be the future next human rights officers (Mariano Rosini – Italy).

The Winter School in Nepal is the most impressive activity organised in the framework of this MA programme, because we have the chance to meet and to live with villagers, to work with professors in Nepal, to get to know the local contacts. I now own a deeper knowledge about human rights and international standard to protect human rights and I have more inspiration to really think about the future career and I believe I can go further with it (Lê Thùy Dung – Vietnam).

As you live in a multicultural condition during the MA programme you need to be prepared and to exchange and express your ideas. Ultimately, we had good professors and classmates, they were always kind and tolerant so I enjoyed studying with them (Juafei Xu – China).

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Last updated February 26, 2019
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Sep 2019
2 years
2,507 EUR
Fees for a.y. 2018/19. Fees can be significantly waived based on your “Equivalent Economic Status Index – ISEE”.
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