Deadline for non-EU
and scholarship applicants:

12 February 2024

Deadline for EU
and self-funded applicants:

16 April 2024

Programme Structure & Degree Components

The academic year of the European Master's Programme in Human Rights and Democratisation (EMA) is divided into the following components:

  • First Semester – September to January in Venice, Italy (worth 50% of the total mark, equivalent to 30 ECTS credits)
  • Second Semester – February to July in one of the 43 participating universities located throughout the European Union plus the UK and Switzerland (worth 15% of the total mark, equivalent to 9 ECTS credits)
  • Thesis – research and thesis submission at one of the participating universities, graduation in September/October in Venice, Italy (worth 35% of the total mark, equivalent to 21 ECTS credits)

First Semester

The first semester takes place at the Global Campus of Human Rights in Venice from mid-September to the end of January. The grade of the first semester accounts for the 50% of the master’s final grade and awards 30 ECTS credits.

The first semester curriculum consists of the first and second stream.

First stream courses are organised in five Thematic Sections (TS):

  • TS1: Human Rights Institutions, Mechanisms and Standards (United Nations; Council of Europe; EU; OSCE; Organisation of American States; African System; perspectives on Asia)
  • TS2: Globalisation, Development and Human Rights (Stakeholders in Economic Globalisation: States, International Economic Organisations, Companies, NGOs; Human Rights and Development; Business and Human Rights; Economic, Social and Cultural Rights)
  • TS3: Human Rights in Context: Historical, Philosophical, Anthropological and Religious Perspectives
  • TS4: Building and Protecting Democracy (Regime Change and Democratic Consolidation; Transition and Transformation Processes; Governance; Political Participation; Electoral Processes)
  • TS5: Human Rights, Peace and Security + Field Trip (Humanitarian Law; International Criminal Law; Security and Vulnerabilities; Field Missions; Terrorism and Human Rights)

In addition to lectures and seminars, students participate in a number of simulation exercises in the context of the first stream subjects such as ECHR Moot Court, ESCR Moot Committee, ICC Moot Court and a mediation simulation.

The second stream activities consist of elective specialised modules devised for smaller groups and skill building activities. These courses are meant to tailor the programme to students’ academic background and interests. They consist of:

  • Advanced Cluster classes that foster advanced knowledge of specific human rights issues
  • Rolling Seminars aimed at reinforcing the foundations of law, philosophy and international relations
  • Academic Skills classes to prepare students for exams, essay and thesis writing
  • Workshops aimed at deepening aspects of the first stream courses
  • Practical Skill Building classes such as project management, human rights impact assessment and digital verification
  • Semester-long special student projects and initiatives. The EMA Human Rights Cultural/Film festival is a highlight of these activities. It is organised every year by a group of students on the occasion of Human Rights Day.

Field Trip

The field trip is a trademark of EMA and has been organised by Mag. Marijana Grandits for years, first in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1998-2003) and then in Kosovo since 2004. This study trip aims to provide insights into the practical tasks, difficulties, and expectations human rights officers face in the field, and to get a better understanding of the situation in a post-conflict country.

The field trip usually takes place in mid-January and comprises visits to international organisations as well as local and regional nongovernmental organizations working on human rights issues, such as property claims, torture related questions, legal advice, women’s rights, democratic elections, free media and children’s rights. Students stay with host families and are required to participate in all activities and events organised by the EMA academic staff, external facilitators from the EU and other experts. 

The EMA fieldtrip is subject to final budgetary approval.

Second Semester

During the EMA second semester students relocate to one of the 43 participating universities to follow courses in an area of specialisation of their own choice and to undertake personal supervised research finalised in the writing of their master‘s thesis. In the second semester, students must take at least two courses for a total of 9 ECTS credits. The second semester mark accounts for the 15% of the master’s final mark.

The second semester is conceived as a European exchange, which means that students will be hosted in a university located in a country other than their own. During the first half of the first semester, students define individual thesis topics on the basis of which suitable EMA universities to host these studies are identified. This process is carried out by the EMA Academic Team according to an established format. The maximum number of students that can be hosted by each participating university is three.

Students are allocated to their second semester university taking into account both the student's and the university's interest, the suitability of the thesis topic for the respective department and the quality of the thesis proposal. The decision is made by the EMA Executive Council (in consultation with the EMA Council) in December and is final and binding.


The thesis consists of an academic piece of work, between 20.000 and 30.000 words, on the student’s topic of choice, written individually and independently by the student under the supervision of the EMA Director or another expert academic of the second semester university. The thesis shall be written in English. The thesis defence is in English.


  • First semester assessment is made on the basis of written and oral assignments and exams.
  • Only students who meet the first semester assessment requirements are allowed to proceed to second semester courses.
  • During the second semester, course assessment is based on the practices of the hosting universities.
  • The master's thesis is assessed with regard to both the written work and the oral defence.