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Law, Human Rights in Criminal Justice LLM/MA

Course Details

Duration: 1 Year Full-Time OR 2 Years Part-Time

Faculty: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Course Type: Taught Professional/Flexible

Fees: For Information on Fees, see section below.


Dr Ger Coffey
School of Law
+353 (0) 61 202682

Brief Description

This programme is designed to emphasise the inter-relationship between what have traditionally been taught as the two distinct disciplines of human rights and criminal justice. Students will be provided with a comprehensive knowledge of this ever developing field of law and encouraged to assess the merit of mainstreaming human rights within the criminal justice system. Covering key areas such as policing and human rights and law of the European Convention on Human Rights, the programme aims to foster general and specific skills with respect to the modern criminal justice system both in Ireland and internationally.

Why choose the School of Law at the University of Limerick

The Law School

The School of Law is a department of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences. It is located in the ground floor of the Foundation Building.

The Law School also has a long tradition of committing ourselves to developing the transferrable skills of students through projects such as Advanced Lawyering and Moot Court, and through cutting edge core modules such as Alternative Dispute Resolution. All of these initiatives promote ‘big picture’ holistic thinking, and can explicitly enhance student soft skills such as problem solving, decision-making, communication, teamwork, planning, critical thinking and human relations skills. In combination with our compulsory clinical education initiatives, they provide an integrating impulse –promoting a sense of coherence across particular programmes of study and facilitating students in understanding how their learning applies in particular contexts. It is not surprising therefore that our graduates have ended up as partners in major law firms, as partners in major accounting firms, at the bar, in senior roles in government departments, NGOs, at the EU, in academia, and private industry.

Postgraduate students also benefit from this research expertise, whether they decide to enrol in a general LLM or specialist LLM (LLM International Commercial Law, Human Rights in Criminal Justice or European and Comparative Law), or undertake a research postgraduate degree as part of our significant doctoral cohort of students.

The School is also strongly committed to working with the practising legal profession, government departments, NGOs, and other relevant stakeholders across all disciplines of law. We have developed particularly strong working relationships with An Garda Síochána and the Office of the Revenue Commissioners. We have also fostered strong international links and it is possible for our students to undertake placements in Canada and the US. Our students can also spend a full academic year in a European university in Malta, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, and the Netherlands. We also have links with universities in Germany, France and Spain where subjects are taught through the native language. We have a very vibrant international student body in the Law School. A recent International Student Survey, which involved over 5000 International students currently studying across the seven Irish Universities, voted UL as the number one University in providing the best student experience, the best student support and warmest welcome in Ireland. UL is also among the top 100 Erasmus host universities according to the latest statistics released by the EU Commission.

The LLM/MA in Human Rights in Criminal Justice is designed to give graduates an understanding of the interaction between human rights and criminal justice in the 21st century and knowledge of the legal actors, supervisory bodies and institutions central to the field. Students will be given an in-depth understanding of the legal regimes operating at national, regional and global levels and sources of human rights law in the field of criminal justice. In addition to an understanding of the human rights protection mechanisms in this context, students will address the question of how human rights law can be enforced. Students will also develop important transferable skills including analytical, research, communication and report writing skills.

Who is it for?
• LLM: talented law graduates with an interest in working in the field of international human rights and criminal justice/agencies
• MA: talented graduates in a related discipline (e.g. politics, international relations etc.) with an interest in working in the field of international human rights and criminal justice/agencies

The Human Rights in Criminal Justice programme is open to law and non-law applicants. Applicants with a law degree such as LL.B., B.C.L., J.D. should apply for the LL.M. programme, and all other non-law applicants should apply for the MA programme. The programme structure and methods of assessment are the same for both LLM and MA students.

Choose from a wide range of modules including:

• Comparative International Protection of Human Rights
• International Criminal Law
• Policing and Human Rights
• Comparative and European Criminal Justice
• Criminology
• Criminal Justice Processes and Sentencing
• Penology and Victimology

We aim to provide some flexibility for students with full-time work commitments by offering a restricted election choice of modules on the part-time mode of study, meaning that modules would be scheduled on the same day. For details on our other LLMs, the LLM General and LLM in International Commercial Law, see: Brochure

This degree can be taken on a full time, twelve month basis, or a part time twenty four month basis. Full time students complete the programme over a period of twelve months by taking four modules in both the autumn and spring semesters, before completing a dissertation during the summer semester.  Part- time students complete the programme over a 24 month period by taking two modules in both the autumn and spring semesters of each year, before completing a dissertation in the summer semester of the second year. The module selection for each semester will be by agreement with the Course Director.

The topic for a student’s dissertation is determined during the spring semester, supervised by a faculty member, and submitted at the end of the summer semester.

Semester 1  Semester 2 Summer 
  • LA6001 Advanced Legal Research Skills

Three electives from

  • LA5153 Comparative International Protection of Human Rights Law
  • LA6111 Criminal Justice Processes and Sentencing
  • LA6121 Law of the European Convention of Human Rights
  • LA6052 Penology and Victimology
  • LA6002 Dissertation Methodology

Three Electives from:*

  • LA6132 International Criminal Law
  • LA6142 Policing and Human Rights
  • LA4052 Criminology
  • LA6062 Comparative and European Criminal Justice
  • LA6162 Regulatory Crime
  • LA6182 Using evidence to improve societal outcomes in the real world
  • LA6192 Hate Crime
  • LA6202 Youth Crime
  •  Dissertation

Content of modules can be found by using the search option on the book of modules.

Applicants must normally have a second class honours degree, grade 2 (2.2) in law or in a relevant social science (Primary degree: Level 8 - National Qualifications Authority of Ireland).Applicants with a primary degree in law will be awarded an LL.M., whereas all other applicants will be awarded an M.A.
In exceptional circumstances an applicant who cannot satisfy the undergraduate requirement may be accepted on the basis of relevant work experience in accordance with UL’s Policy on Recognition of Prior Learning.
Applications from those with practical experience in either field are particularly encouraged.

What to Upload with your Application

  • Qualification transcripts and/or certificates (including certified English translations if applicable) 
  • English language qualification(s) (if English is not your first language) 
  • A copy of your birth certificate or passport
  • A one page supporting statement, which should demonstrate: (1) our motivation, enthusiasm and a clear understanding of why you are making the application to the Human Rights in Criminal Justice master’s programme, and to UL; (2) how your academic background and other relevant experiences have shaped your decision to apply and how the programme of study contributes to your career plans; (3)  Evidence that you have the ability, experience, skills and motivation to successfully complete the programme of study.
  • Two letters of recommendation on institutional letter-headed paper. The reference letter should comment on the applicant’s academic achievements (or relevant professional achievements, if applying under UL’s Policy on Recognition of Prior Learning, for more details see: http://ulsites.ul.ie/admissions/university-policy-recognition-prior-learning), your suitability for postgraduate study, and any other information you consider to be relevant.

English Language Requirements

Applicants whose first language is not English must provide evidence of either prior successful completion of a degree qualification taught through the medium of English or meet one of the criteria below (no longer than two years prior to application)

Acceptable English Language qualifications include the following:

  • Matriculation examinations from European countries where English is presented as a subject and an acceptable level is achieved
  • Irish Leaving Certificate English –Ordinary Level Grade D or above
  • TOEFL – 580 or 90 (internet based)
  • IELTS – Minimum score of 6.5* for Business, Arts, Humanities or Education programmes. Minimum score of 6.0* for Science, Engineering, Informatics or Electronics programmes *with no less than 6 in any one component.
  • English Test for English and Academic Purposes (ETAPP) – Grade C1
  • GCE ‘O’ level English Language/GCSE English Language – Grade C or above
  • Cambridge Assessment English –Certificate of Proficiency in English - Grade C / Certificate in Advanced English Grade B
  • GCE Examination Boards – Oxford Delegacy of Local Examinations – Grade C / Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate – School Certificate Pass 1-6 / University of London Entrance and School Examinations Council – School Certificate Pass 1-6

Results in examinations other than those listed above may also be accepted as meeting our English language requirements. Contact the International Education Division for advice.

Denis Kennedy "I completed the LLM in Human Rights in Criminal Justice in 2013. I took up a position as a research fellow at the Courts Service of Ireland – my role utilised the research skills that I gained during my LLM every day as I drafted judgments and researched points of law for the judiciary of the High Court. What attracted me to the programme was the fact that it combines two distinct disciplines which are traditionally taught separately. The modules offered are designed to emphasise the inter-relationship between human rights and criminal justice. During the programme we covered key areas such as policing and human rights and the Law of the European Convention on Human Rights.

I would highly recommend this course for anyone who wants to improve or begin their lawyering skills. The LLM in Human Rights and Criminal Justice enabled me to study modules that developed my lawyering and research skills both critically and analytically and had the added advantage of being presented in a multi-jurisdictional setting. Studying the LLM also lead me to pursue a PhD, which I am currently engaged in under the supervision of Dr. Andrea Ryan of the School of Law, UL."

Cliodhna Murphy, LLM in Human Rights in Criminal Justice, 2018 "Having completed my undergraduate degree in the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG), I felt that completing a Masters was the route I should take. I decided that after studying in NUIG for 3 years, it was time for me to get more exposure by moving to a different University in Ireland. While completing my degree I had a great attraction to the study of Criminal law, however, I wanted to incorporate Human Rights into my love for Criminal Law.
One of the main attractions to the University of Limerick was not only the similarities between it and NUIG, as both colleges are of medium to large student populations, and both have excellent sporting facilities.  However, it was the fact that they provided a unique combination of two distinct disciplines (Human Rights and Criminal Justice) which are traditionally taught separately and this appealed to me most.

The modules offered in the course are available to emphasize the ever-growing relationship between human rights and criminal justice. During the course of the programme we covered key areas such are International Criminal Law, Penology and Victimology and Policing and Human Rights.

I would highly recommend the course of Human Rights and Criminal Justice to all students wishing to gain further knowledge of these diverse areas of law, with their unique inter-relationship. The LLM in Human Rights and Criminal Justice has enabled me to study modules that have developed my lawyering and research skills both critically and analytically alongside the added advantage of being presented in a multi-jurisdictional setting.

I chose this Masters programme above all others available in the country due to its uniqueness, as well as the background and diversity of staff and students. Which I knew would provide me with the opportunity to work alongside some of the greatest in the industry, both academically and those who work in practice.

The University campus provides a wonderful atmosphere and setting for studying, this inspired me throughout my year in the University of Limerick."




Aliyu Usman "My interactions with experts in the field of human rights and criminal justice at UL and with Irish police officers have provided me with new avenues to network, share and learn beyond the completion of my course. This was made possible by the unique environment fostered by my lecturers, which encourages networking and innovative exchange of views and ideas. Through the program, I have gained more insights into global best practices of policing and supervisory role in applying appropriate legal mechanisms to protect the rights of both the victims and suspected perpetrators of crime. The course has equipped me with multiple skills learned from my lecturers and fellow students of different countries and backgrounds – which has greatly contributed towards my academic and professional growth. 

Upon completing my study at UL, I resumed work in Nigeria where I got promoted to Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) and transferred to the National Headquarters of the Nigeria Police Force. Today, I have served as a resource person at electoral violence and security course; secretary technical committee on curbing kidnapping and related crimes; member technical working group on 2019 general elections as well as various other official engagements. I believe the knowledge and skills acquired from University of Limerick have added much value to my professional growth and emboldened the confidence of supervisors towards me.”