The Masters Programme in Governance and Human Rights is a two-year distance learning online and part-time on-campus international Masters programme. It is a professional M.A. degree taught in English, aiming at empowering students and young professionals to understand and reflect the theoretical meaning and practical application of Governance in and through Human Rights. It addresses young professionals with a university degree, first work experience and a project idea which they seek to realise.

Master Governance & Human Rights ©Leuphana
Master Governance & Human Rights - The Modules

Project-based Learning informed by Theory and Practice

The Master of Governance and Human Rights combines theory and practice. In seven modules, the students will learn to analyse and understand legal and political theories of governance and international and regional human rights regimes and how they are interrelated.

The students and scholars of the Master of Governance and Human Rights will design, plan, organise and realise their own project addressing a practical challenge related to good governance and human rights. Project-based learning is at the core of this programme. Students will learn to conceptualise and contribute to social change and acquire the design and communication skills to adapt theoretical approaches to governance and human rights to their professional working environment, e.g. as part of corporate social responsibility (CSR) or sustainable development policies. They will be taught and supervised by outstanding and renowned international human rights academics, practitioners and experienced project coaches.

Subject modules

  • F1 Introduction to Governance and Human Rights (10 CP)
  • F2 Human Rights and Governance: Norms and Principles (10 CP)
  • F3 Contemporary Challenges of Governance and Human Rights Application (5 CP)
  • F4 Human Rights Institutions, Mechanisms and Transitional Justice (10 CP)
  • F5 Research, Communication and Decision making Skills (5 CP)
  • F6 Programme Design (10 CP)
  • F7 Social Change: Campaigning, Social Media and Communication (10 CP)
  • P Projects in Governance and Human Rights related areas (10 CP)

Complementary studies

  • Society and Responsibility (5 CP)

Masters Thesis

  • Preparation Master Thesis/ supervision (15 cp)

Subject modules

F1 Introduction to Governance and Human Rights (10 CP)

Module 1 introduces the underlying theory of human rights-based governance. You will be introduced to the fundamental concepts and standards and look at the international, national and local institutions and control mechanisms that are relevant to the practical implementation of human rights. Good governance principles such as accountability, transparency and participation are explored in relation to fundamental civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights and rights to development; students build up a fundamental understanding of different levels of governance and how they interact.

1.1 Introduction to the study programme

1.2  Good Governance Principles

Accountability, transparency, participation are the core principles of all good or best governance processes, regardless whether in private enterprises, CSOs or in governments. The genesis, the analysis and the assessment of these principles and their successful integration in governance units over the past decades will be the subjects of this course.

1.3 Human Rights Concepts and Norms

This course is dedicated to the study of the genesis, the evolution and the normative content of human rights. The students will learn to understand and analyse the legal and the political aspects of human rights and will be introduced to the contents of international human rights law.

F2 Human Rights and Governance: Norms and Principles (10 CP)

F2 Human Rights and Governance: Norms and Principles

In Module 2, you will deepen your understanding of human rights standards and principles and their practical application. A key focus is on current debates surrounding political and religious freedoms, the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, privacy and data protection, and social human rights. You will learn how rights to political participation and freedom fit in to governance structures and can be demanded under criminal law at both an international and national level. The standards and principles are also explored using practical case studies and examples.

2.1 Human Rights for Specific Groups: Women, Children, Persons with disabilities, and Migrants

This class deals with special human rights according to international, regional and national norms. The students discuss their chance of enforcement, implementation and the impact of special human rights on penal jurisdiction. The political culture and regulatory system in diverse societies will also be discussed.

2.2 Governance in Comparative Perspective

This course introduces students to the theory and practice of public governance applied to the context of institutional and public sector reforms in developing countries, balancing historical, theoretical and practical aspects.

F3 Contemporary Challenges of Governance and Human Rights Application (5 CP)

Module 3 builds on the introduction provided in Modules 1 and 2. You will develop your expertise on current human rights challenges posed by the impact of non-state actors such as companies and international financial institutions. Furthermore, you will learn how developments in the area of digitalisation are affecting human rights and governance.

3.1 Business and Human Rights

This class deals with the current development between economy and human rights as well as impacts of multinational companies and international financial institutions on human rights. Amongst others there will be an introduction and analysis of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, Corporate Social Responsibility and sustainable initiatives in the economic sector. 

3.2 Governance and Human Rights in the Digital Age

This course in general tackles governance and human rights in the digital age. It discusses issues, challenges, threats and opportunities on how digitalisation could be utilised in the promotion and protection of human rights. The course will also introduce the concept of digital governance or e-governance and digital rights as human rights.

F4 Human Rights Institutions, Mechanisms and Transitional Justice (10 CP)

F4 Human Rights Institutions, Mechanisms and Transitional Justice

Module 4 gives an overview of international, regional, national and local inspection and monitoring mechanisms that allow compliance with international human rights standards to be requested or demanded, if necessary in court. This module should also enable you to understand and apply transitional justice and transformation theories and measures.

4.1 Human Rights Institutions and Mechanisms

The course will provide an overview of institutions, procedures and themes associated with the international protection of human rights. Human rights institutions and mechanisms operate today in a constant tension between contestation and mainstreaming, which informs the particular optic this course will take.

4.2 Human Rights Reporting and Monitoring

The students learn the basics of public, international, regional and national reporting and critical human rights monitoring.

Part 2 – Social Change and Practical Skills Development

The second content part of the Masters focuses on the practical application of what you have learned in the first part. You will both work on your individual communication and problem-solving skills and acquire the practical tools to plan, implement and improve your own projects for human rights-based governance and thus contribute to social change centred on human rights. This exchange and input is designed to inspire you to develop your own projects in the area of human rights and governance in different professional sectors.

F5 Research, Communication and Decision making Skills (5 CP)

Implementing human rights-based governance demands an excellent understanding of social dynamics and standards and very good research skills. Module 5 teaches a range of problem-solving approaches and creativity techniques, enabling you to develop innovative responses to issues of governance and human rights. You will learn to reflect on and improve your own communication and negotiation skills. Finally, you will be introduced to the common assessment and evaluation techniques that enable you to evaluate and assess your own projects and those of others on the basis of objective standards.

5.1 Problem Solving and Design Thinking

This course will acquaint the students with different approaches and techniques to solve practical problems. They learn to be creative, sensible and rational when they cope with problems dealing with human rights and governance.

5.2 Communication and Negotiation Skills

In this class the student’s individual skills in communication, debate and negotiation through reflection and evaluation of specific situations will be strengthened. Furthermore the students will be encouraged to apply the new skills in practice.

F6 Programme Design (10 CP)

Module 6 will teach you the skills you need to develop projects aimed at resolving practical problems in the field of governance and human rights. You will take a critical look at your own role and relationship with human rights-based governance and develop models to implement governance and human rights strategies in a range of different types of organisations – businesses, non-governmental organisations and political institutions. After completing this module, you will be able to develop complete projects and programmes and undertake your own fundraising.

6.1 Fundraising in the Area of Governance and Human Rights

The students will learn how to organize their own fundraising campaign in the area of human rights and governance (the sources of fundraising; special conditions in the area of human rights and governance and the main principles of fundraising).

6.2 Project Development and Project Management Tools

In this class students will learn project development and management tools. They will also learn about different governance aspects, while implementing projects in the area of human rights.

F7 Social Change: Campaigning, Social Media and Communication (10 CP)

Module 7 completes the practical part of the course. Following an introduction to the various aspects of social change in Part 1, you learn to implement your own ideas in a way than resonates with the public and thus to trigger social change. An understanding of campaign management, the efficient use of social media and knowledge transfer are fundamental to organising and launching change. You will address the challenge of combining this knowledge with good governance and human rights principles.

7.1 Campaigning & Awareness Raising

How can campaigns, actions or private commitment achieve a change for human right culture in political thinking and acting? This class gives the students the tools to plan and execute actions and campaigns to increase the public awareness.

7.2 Social Media and Networks

The trigger of social change and transformation is closely connected to the usage of social media and networks. In modern as well as in transformative societies, modern technologies and means of communication are essential instruments to manage and to support creative thinking, skills of problem solving and participation in political processes. The students will learn to use these tools in accordance with human rights and good governance.

7.3 Conference Event

During the last days of attendance, the students finish the module by organizing and hosting a conference for one day. While realising this conference project, the students can pick their own topic of interest and can apply all theoretical and practical (soft skills) knowledge, which they have acquired throughout the studies.

P Projects in Governance and Human Rights related areas (10 CP)

Student projects are a fundamental and unique component of the Programme Master of Governance and Human Rights. They link theory and practice and enable students to apply their knowledge and analytical skills to real-life challenges related to their professional field or the field, where they want to become active.

Complementary studies

Society and Responsibility (5 CP)

In this module you are dealing with the interdependencies of organisations and its members. There will be three course sections:

  • Leadership and Responsibility
  • Change Management
  • Ethics and Values

Masters Thesis

Preparation Master Thesis/ supervision (15 cp)

The Students will write their Master Thesis on one of the topics, which they find most interesting. It can be related to their practical project or it can deal with another matter. It is important that students use academic writing skills to outline their ideas and solutions. Students are encouraged to publish and to try to reach the public with their learning outcomes in the form of a publication, a campaign or a strategy. They could further jointly set up a public event in Lüneburg or elsewhere in the world.

Videos from the Masters Governance and Human Rights

Governance through Human Rights - a solution for global crises?

Keynote speeches during the first session

Contact & Advising


Prof. Dr. Alessandra Asteriti
Universitätsallee 1, C4.215b
21335 Lüneburg


Dr. Elena Kropacheva
Wilschenbrucher Weg 84, W.410
21335 Lüneburg
Fon +49.4131.677-7921

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