Application deadline:

13 September 2019

Term I - Thematic Clusters

The first term is taking place at the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies of the University of Sarajevo from November to mid-June.


1. Philosophy of Human Rights and Democracy

Cluster leader: Prof. Asim Mujkić, University of Sarajevo

This educational cluster covers the theoretical and philosophical foundations of human rights and democracy, from their birthplaces to the present day. It deals with the specifics of the philosophical approach to human rights, as opposed to the legal, social or political one. Different disciplines of philosophy and different schools in relation to human rights are presented, alongside with the historical construction of the concept.

The course also provides insight into the contemporary debate over the foundations of human rights. Furthermore, it offers the basis and interpretation of the philosophical terminology used in the interpretation of human rights, as subject/object, politics–law–morality, individual/ collective, right/obligation-duty. The contractual theories and human rights concept relation is addressed, as well as the contemporary philosophy of human rights.

Courses give introduction into the modern concepts of democracy and human rights providing the students with elementary understanding of the modern age democracy and human rights. The modern age understanding of man; natural rights; parliamentary, liberal democracy; necessity and freedom; complexity of modern democracy and human rights as well as contemporary theories of democracy and theories and practices of citizenship, as, paradoxically, the basis for human rights are critically examined.


2. Democracy

Cluster leader: Prof. Marco Borraccetti, University of Bologna

Democracy and Human Rights are treated by considering the framework of European transition processes after the Cold War, within the politics of post-communist transition and the impact of both the communist collapse and the process of EU Enlargement.

Starting from the EU relations with Central/East European countries during the Cold War, lectures will analyze the EU reactions to the fall of communism. Then, the evolving relations from cooperation to association will be examined, along with the Agenda 2000, the accession negotiations and the impact of conditionality onto the process of East- Central European countries' adaptation to the accession requirements.

The course also concentrates on countries not involved in the first and second wave of the Enlargement, but deeply affected by instability, particularly the Balkans. In this context, the widening and deepening of EU is discussed, while addressing the needs and difficulties of post-communist transition.

The problems of minorities, state sovereignty, and nationalism is considered within this framework of reference, with comparative approaches between the EU and the post-communist societies.


3. Ethnicity, Nationalism and Religion

Cluster leader: Prof. Milan Podunavac, University of Belgrade

The aim of this course is to promote an open-minded attitude to diversity and reducing stereotypes and prejudices towards the "Others".

Nationalism as a theoretical concept with practical implications is explored both in its pre-modern and modern manifestations. Issues of ethnicity and migration in Europe and worldwide are also considered, as well as stereotypes and ethnic conflicts within divided societies, and the major tools for their prevention or limitation.

The concepts of state, fear, and security, and their mutual relation and interdependence is examined through the main theoretical approaches. Furthermore, the intersectionality of identity formation, so as to include not only gender and nation, but also other aspects of identity (such as race and class) is in the focus of the cluster as well.

The secession and conflicts in Yugoslavia is studied, as well as the post conflict institution-building process. Further on, the role of religions and their relation with nationalism, ethnicity, identity and culture are being discussed, with a specific attention to the Balkan cases.


4. Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Cluster leader: Prof. Nikolaos Tzifakis, University of Peloponnese

The aim of this cluster is to provide students with knowledge of international legal standards in the field of economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR), and to relate these standards to broader theoretical debates in philosophy, political theory and economics. The principle that all human rights - civil, political, economic, social and cultural - are indivisible, interdependent and interrelated is now central to the international normative framework for the protection and promotion of human rights.

The course will address the reasons for increased international support for the idea of economic, social and cultural rights; consider foundational debates relating to the accommodation of these human rights within liberal political theory; and introduce students to the key international legal instrument in this field - the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The substantive content of economic, social and cultural rights - as well as the nature and scope of international legal obligations of states in respect of these rights - will be analysed in the light of authoritative interpretative statements, including the jurisprudence of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Key thematic issues, including poverty, trade and development, and the role of civil society and NGOs, will also be considered.


5. Mechanisms for Human Rights Protection and Implementation

Cluster leader: Prof. Wolfgang Benedek, University of Graz

The focus is on implementation and enforcement of human rights. This is developed on the universal level of the United Nations, as well as on the regional level of the Council of Europe, OSCE and the European Union.

The European system of human rights and the human rights policies of the European Union are given particular attention. Furthermore, the national implementation of international human rights in SEE is studied with a particular emphasis on human rights in post-conflict situations, taking the examples of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Kosovo.

In addition, the implementation of human rights of women in the region of SEE is introduced, as well as the role of humanitarian law. Accordingly, there are courses on the implementation of universal human rights, on post-conflict enforcement of human rights in the European system, on implementation of human rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Kosovo, on implementation of women's rights and on transitional justice and humanitarian law.

The objective of the Cluster is to provide students with a better understanding of the implementation and enforcement of human rights at different levels in practice. As different systems are compared, they can also better understand the interrelationship between the different levels of human rights protection.

Furthermore, students should become capable of providing advice on how best to use the variety of human rights instruments in particular cases. They should be able to link what they learned in previous clusters with the aspect of implementation and enforcement.


6. Methodology of Academic Research and Writing

Prof. Federico Giulio Sicurella, University of Milan

The cluster is designed to provide students with comprehensive theoretical knowledge and a wide range of practical skills concerning the methodology of research in the social sciences, particularly in the field of democracy and human rights. By placing theory alongside practical and applied experiences, the cluster aims to enable students to grasp the fundamental principles of social research, understand the conventions and challenges of academic writing, and to identify strengths and weaknesses of different research methods and data-gathering techniques. In this sense, the cluster is not only intended to strengthen the ability of students to elaborate relevant and viable research projects, but also to enhance their academic and professional profiles.

Elective Courses


1. Life stories and dialogues

Lecturer: Nejra Nuna Čengić, PhD, Visiting fellow at the Centre for South East European Studies, University of Graz, Austria

This seminar aims to provide students with theoretical and empirical knowledge on the life story-telling model, as a great resource for study and analysis of memory and identity(es) construction, trans-generational impact of silenced (traumatic) experiences, but also the dynamics and functioning of societies in which we live.

This model can be used for a variety of purposes, as a research method, a peace building tool, for empowerment and political purposes. The unique interdisciplinary and multimedial methodology of the seminar includes introduction to selected theoretical approaches from the field of philosophy, anthropology, gender studies, psychoanalysis and history, using documentary movies as media for work and discussion.

Through the given methods, the seminar offers a possibility for personal reflection on some of ERMA's subject themes (e.g. socialism/communism, fall of socialism/communism, conflict, transition(s), gender relations etc), from the perspective of "ordinary" people.

Finally, it will be shown, throughout the seminar, how instead of paradigmatic competing narratives, individual stories may offer relevant insights and, in this way, present an alternative vision to given events, source of resistance and social change, taking into account the context of diverse transitions and conflicts in South East Europe, and particularly conflicts in the region of the former Yugoslavia (during the '90s).


2. Genocide and genocidal atrocities in theory and International Law

Lecturer: Dr. Phil. Dennis Gratz, Legal Expert

The course examines the concept and phenomenon of genocide, its origins and mechanisms of prevention and punishment.

Following a brief general introduction to the history of genocide science and more specifically the development of international criminal law, students will be familiarized with the main forms of genocidal atrocities on the basis of historical events and occurrences.

The students shall in particular analyze the Armenian genocide, Holocaust, Rwandan genocide and Cambodian Mass Killings. Following that, legal definitions and understanding of the crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide as established in the UN Convention on Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide are discussed, compared and analyzed, both from the legal and theoretical point of view.

Specific legal terms such as intent, motive, genocide-in-part etc. shall are introduced and thoroughly elaborated. Moreover, the course is dedicated to give introduction to different aspects of genocide science, including the theoretical approaches from a historical, cultural, social and economic perspective, as well as some recent developments in the field of prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide.

Finally, the module covers the specific forms of genocidal crimes, their circumstances of occurrence and their consequences for the victim population. The students shall reflect upon terms such as ethnic cleansing, gendercide, elitocide, war amongst the people etc.

Within this part, the students shall learn about the recent conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the special importance of the ICTY verdict on the proven genocide in Srebrenica for the international prevention and detection mechanisms.


3. The Rights of Refugees under International Law

Lecturer: Dr. Lisa Heschl, European Training and Research centre for Human Rights and Democracy, University of Graz (UNI-ETC)

This course offers an overview of the key terms, concepts, methodologies and ethical principles relevant to studies of refugee protection and rights at the international level.

Using case studies from around the world, the course will introduce students to the legal framework at the international level and the relevant jurisprudence by international courts (in particular the European Court on Human Rights).

Students will furthermore be familiarised with general applicable principles for asylum procedures and will also work in groups on asylum cases.

Term II - Internship period, South East European Region

In the second term, which lasts from mid-June until the end of July, students take up a six -week long internship at selected IGOs, NGOs, think-tanks and research institutes across South East Europe, choosing from a comprehensive list of partners from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia, or choosing another organisation, according to their specific interest.

Students apply for placements according to their research and career interest and must provide the programme with the Internship confirmation letter from their chosen organisation by the beginning of June at the latest.

The internship period is aimed at advancing ERMA students' professionalization and applying their knowledge in the field together with conducting their research as well as data gathering related to the MA thesis topic.

During the placement the students are expected to carry out tasks with knowledge and expertise in order to make a contribution to the work of the organization and at the same time to benefit from the internship period to conduct field research and data gathering necessary for the MA thesis writing.


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TERM III - Mobility Period, University of Bologna

The Term III of the ERMA Program takes place at the CEUB - University of Bologna Residential Center in Santa Sofia (Forli'-Cesena), beginning of September until mid October for a total of 45 nights. ERMA Term III is coordinated by the School of Political Sciences of the University of Bologna, Forli' Campus.

During this period students focus on the finalization of the MA theses benefiting from comprehensive tutorship assistance, attend short seminars organised by the University of Bologna

Also, students enjoy living together, going for excursions as well as cultural or nature field trips. Intercultural communication, adaptability and cross-cultural mindset are the main skills that are developed during the overall academic year and especially during Term III. In accordance with the group's interest short seminar courses and conference aimed at addressing particular issues of interest are organized.

. The topics therefore range from environmental issues to war crimes and mechanisms for human rights protection.


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MA Thesis

During the first term in Sarajevo, students benefit from methodology courses on academic research and writing, information retrieval, comparative analysis and data gathering techniques. This is intended to prepare students for the research and writing of the MA theses on the topical issues related to human rights and the development of democracy in the SEE region.

In order to gain deeper understanding of the regional dimensions of issues connected to human rights and democratization, students are strongly encouraged to write the MA thesis on countries other than those of their citizenship and to do comparative studies on the countries from the SEE region.

Students can consult with their potential supervisors and academic tutors about the dissertation topic throughout the first term.

By the end of May students develop their MA theses proposals and thus prepare for the extensive MA thesis research during the second term. The students will start gathering materials and conducting research for their theses already during the internship period.


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Academic Calendar

Semester I - 30 ECTS

November - mid-June

Cluster 1: Philosophy of Human Rights First half of November - January
Cluster 2: Democracy January - first half of February
Cluster 3: Ethnicity, Nationalism and Religion Second half of February – first half of March
Cluster 4: Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Second half of March – end of April
Cluster 5: Mechanisms for Human Rights Protection and Implementation May – first half of June
Cluster 6: Methodology of Academic Research and Writing First two weeks of November and within all five clusters

Semester II - 30 ECTS

Mid-June - end of October

Internships in the SEE region Second half of June – end of July
Preparation of master's thesis (University of Bologna) Semptember – first half of October
Graduation ceremony (September-October) in Sarajevo (BiH) End of October