First Round Deadline:

6 April 2021

Second Round Deadline:

6 June 2021


Thematic Section 1: Democracy and Rights

This thematic section aims at setting the ground for critically understanding democracy and human rights both in theory and in practice, with a focus on the Arab World. It is dedicated to the exploration of such issues as the state, democratic institutions, civil society, as well as the evolution of different sets of rights (social, economic, civil and political) and their reception in the Middle East and North Africa.

These issues are approached from a variety of disciplines: International Relations, Political Sociology, History, Geopolitics, Philosophy, and Legal Theory. The thematic section combines both a conceptual and a contextual approach. Students will also look into Arab Political Thought and the legacy of colonialism.

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Thematic Section 2: Governance, Rule of Law and Constitutional Process

The second thematic section explores the relations between modes of governance, constitutional design, electoral systems and political dynamics. It looks into mechanisms through which institutions and civil society participate in promoting and consolidating democracy: constitutions, parliaments, constitutional courts, political groups and pressure groups. Democratic and Human Rights principles are approached from a theoretical, critical and contextualised perspective highlighting the process and evolution of their interpretation.

Thematic Section 3: International Relations and the Global System of Human Rights Protection

The third thematic section explores the relations between one the one hand, international relations and human rights and, on the other hand, human rights obligations and protection mechanisms on a national, regional and international level. Seminars within this section put a particular focus on the protection of groups and categories that have been identified as particularly vulnerable, such as migrants, children and, national and ethnic minorities.

Thematic Section 4: Political Transitions to Democracy

The fourth thematic section aims to explore the notion of political change against the backdrop of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ of 2011. By looking into this series of events and comparing it to periods of political transition in other contexts, students gain a critical understanding of the concept of political change while looking into recent developments in the Arab World. The waves of democratic transition in Southern Europe, Latin America and Eastern Europe have shown the importance of institutional change to ensure democracy, and the setting of a “virtuous circle”.

Once this basic framework has been posited, attention is paid to key themes in contemporary Arab studies: state formation, regime type, authoritarianism and citizenship. This is done with the aim of providing further contextual background and conceptual tools.

Applied Research in Democracy and Human Rights

Seminars prepare students to design and implement their research from the formulation of a hypothesis to the drawing of conclusions through data collection and the analysis of results. An introduction to quantitative and qualitative research is interwoven with field visits to highlight ethical issues and data gaps, preparing students to develop a thesis proposal that is feasible, useful and scientifically sound.

In addition to this, student get to learn the specificities of Human rights research, looking into legal sources, identifying duty bearers and rights holders, and learning to measure observance and violations. Students get to learn from lessons from the field brought by practitioners, and test their knowledge through a week-long field research on Refugee Rights and Issues. Students also follow a seminar on Project development and get to implement through local NGOs and institutions several projects, and then assess their impact on Human Rights and Democratic governance.

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Thematic section 1: Democracy and Rights

  • Legacy of Colonialism (2cr)
  • Arab Political Thought (2cr)
  • Democracy and Human Rights (4cr)

Thematic Section 2: Governance, Rule of Law and Constitutional Process

  • Comparative Constitutional Systems (4cr)
  • Political Parties and Pressure Groups (4cr)

Thematic Section 3: Political Transitions to Democracy

  • International Human Rights law and Protection Mechanisms (3cr)
  • Vulnerable persons and groups Human Rights (3cr)

Thematic section 4: International Relations and the Global System of Human Rights Protection

  • Democratisation and Liberalisation (4cr)
  • Transition Processes in the Middle East and North Africa (4cr)

Applied Research in Human Rights and Democracy (10cr)

  • Research Methodology, Quantitative and Qualitative Methods
  • Field Visits to NGOs, INGOs, IGOs and public institutions
  • Practical Human Rights Seminars
  • Weeklong Field Research on Refugees
  • Project Development
  • Project Implementation and Assessment

Thesis (20cr)

Research and Write a research paper of 20000 to 30000 words on a topic pertaining to Human Rights and Democratic Governance.


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