Second Round Deadline:

30 March 2020

Extended Deadline:

12 May 2020

Structure and Contents

The academic year of the European Master's Programme in Human Rights and Democratisation is divided into two semesters:


1st Semester - September to January in Venice, Italy

  • First stream courses
  • Second stream courses
  • Field trip
  • Exams

The degree components are the following: Thematic Sections 1-5 (50% of the total mark, equivalent to 30 ECTS credits)


2nd Semester - February to July in one of the 41 E.MA participating universities located throughout the European Union

  • Specialised courses
  • Research
  • Exams
  • Thesis submission

The degree components are the following: at least two assessed course units (15% of the total mark, equivalent to 9 ECTS credits)


Graduation - October in Venice, Italy

  • Specialised courses
  • Research
  • Exams
  • Thesis submission

The degree components are the following: Thesis (35% of the total mark, equivalent to 21 ECTS credits)

First Semester

The first semester curriculum consists of:


A core programme (the first stream) aimed at the plenary group of students and assessed for the purposes of the degree

First stream courses are organised in five Thematic Sections (subject to modification):

  • TS1: Human Rights Institutions, Mechanisms and Standards (United Nations; Council of Europe; EU; OSCE; Organisation of American States; African System; perspectives on Asia) --- 8 ECTS
  • 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) --- 4 ECTS
  • TS3: Human Rights in Context: Historical, Philosophical, Anthropological and Religious Perspectives --- 4 ECTS
  • TS4: Building and Protecting Democracy (Regime Change and Democratic Consolidation; Transition and Transformation Processes; Governance; Political Participation; Electoral Processes) --- 4 ECTS
  • TS5: Human Rights, Peace and Security + Field Trip (Humanitarian Law; International Criminal Law; Security and Vulnerabilities; Field Missions; Terrorism and Human Rights) --- 7 ECTS

Some distinctive features of the first stream include:

  • Focused lectures on EU legislation and policies regarding human rights and democratisation
  • Special classes on human rights and democratisation in specific countries or regions
  • Simulation exercises: ECHR Moot Court, ESCR Moot Committee, ICC Moot Court, Mediation Simulation

A series of second stream activities consisting of specialised units devised for smaller groups

Second stream courses consist of different components tailored to students' academic background and interests:

  • Advanced Cluster classes that foster advanced knowledge of specific human rights issues --- 2 ECTS
  • Rolling Seminars aimed at reinforcing the foundations of law, philosophy and international relations --- 1 ECTS
  • Academic Skills classes to prepare students for exams, essay and thesis writing
  • Workshops aimed at deepening some aspects of the first stream courses
  • Practical Skill Building classes such as project management, electoral observation and digital verification
  • Semester-long special student projects and initiatives

Some distinctive features of the first stream include:

  • The EMA Human Rights Cultural/Film Festival: organised every year by a group of students on the occasion of Human Rights Day
  • Workshops and skill classes where students learn about UN human rights mandates, develop their skills to manage a project, participate in a Model UN simulation or practice how to conduct interviews in the field

A field trip

The field trip is a trademark of EMA and has been organised by Mag. Marijana Grandits (from the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights at the University of Vienna) for years, first in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1998-2003) and then in Kosovo since 2004. This field training 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 field trip is included in the tuition fees.

I am grateful for the opportunity I had, to become an insider for a week in the context of Kosovo, to have the chance to meet all these people – some involved in the highest offices of the international community, others struggling to work for the good of civil society, but all of them aiming towards the same goal of stability and prosperity for Kosovo. 
(Ioanna Mincheva, EMA Student 2011/2012)

We definitely enjoyed the Kosovo trip and undoubtedly had a lot of fun. But we also learned a lot and saw a lot of what we had studied in Venice, which was a very good way of bringing together theory and reality (Nikolina Karaolia and Tiina Vahtras, EMA 2007/2008).

Though tired and weary towards the end, the return to Venice came too fast for all of us. There were still so many people to meet, and places to visit. While crossing the Adriatic back to the tranquility of the lagoon, many of us secretly made plans to go back some day. In fact, some of us have even managed to do so. (Michael Merrigan, EMA 2008/2009)

The trip to Kosovo was my first contact with the world of human rights in the field. Organisation after organisation, meeting after meeting, it was amazing to make the link between the theory and the practice. In Kosovo during one week I was group leader, this sounds really responsible, just like in a real mission in a real NGO. In fact this first experience in the field just confirmed my will and desire to work in Human Rights as a professional. (Isidore Collins Ngueuleu Djeuga, EMA 2010/2011)

Second Semester

During the EMA second semester students relocate to one of the 41 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.

This part of the programme is conceived as a European exchange, which implies that students will be hosted for the second semester activities 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 may be allocated to any EMA 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.


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Assessment and Thesis



  • First semester assessment is made on the basis of written and oral assignments and exams.
  • Only successful students are allowed to proceed to second semester courses.
  • During the second semester, students will attend further specialised courses the assessment of which will be 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.


The thesis consists of an academic piece of work, between 20.000 and 30.000 words, 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. However, students may write the thesis in French upon prior approval of the EMA Director of the second semester University.

The thesis defence is in English.

More on EMA Theses