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.

Modules in the Master Governance and Human Rights at Leuphana Professional School ©Leuphana
M.A. Governance and Human Rights: Overview of 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 analyze 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, organize and realize 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 conceptualize 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 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. This course will take significant time in the first semester.

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 analyze the legal and the political effects of human rights and will be introduced to the contents of international human rights law. This course will take up significant time.

1.4 Transition, Transformation and Development Theories

This course will acquaint the students with transition, transformation and development theory as well as concepts for democratic and good governance-oriented institution building. IR, development and transformation theories will be benchmarked against empirical case studies and projects as well as current political events and transformation processes around the globe.

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 International Criminal Justice

In this class the international, regional and national criminal justice will be covered. The focus is on legal enforcement of international, human-rights-related and relevant norm and principles.

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. You will also learn about human rights regimes designed to protect the rights of specific groups, and will explore case studies in this area.

3.1 Business and Human Rights

This class deals with the current development between in economy and human rights, and relevant 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 Human Rights Regimes protecting specific Groups

This class gives an overview on human rights regimes for the protection of certain marginal or threatened groups. Concerning their highest interest, the students can chose a preferred content in a certain branch of law. For example, this includes the rights of people with disabilities, women´s rights, and rights of indigenous peoples, rights of minorities or children´s rights. 

3.3 Case Studies and Development of Best Practice Scenarios

The students will analyze the challenges of implementation of human rights based on their comprehension of human rights based governance. Secondary they will analyze empirical cases and case studies. The students learn to exercise human rights on governance decisions.

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 comprehension of political dynamics is essential for the practice and control of human rights. Therefor this class concentrates on international and regional human rights regimes and systems in their national, local and private implementation and relevant decision- and control mechanisms.

4.2 Human Rights Reporting and Monitoring

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

4.3 Transitional Justice and Democracy

Transitional Justice is one of the most increasing fields of transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary scientific research fields and capacity building actions. The students will adopt and learn about theoretical background knowledge about transformation processes and social change. They will exercise this knowledge in problem solving case studies.

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. You will also become familiar with common professions and working situations. This exchange and input is designed to inspire you to develop projects on human rights-based governance or indeed new programmes in all conceivable sectors and professions.

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 techniques, enabling you to develop innovative and creative 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 exercise of the learned skills will be intensified. The students will be encouraged to use new technologies and social networks to understand and to estimate the difficulties and benefits of this type of communication concerning solution development. 

5.3 Evaluation, Assessment, Supervision and Co-Counselling Tools

Responsible decision making and good governance do not only depend on best knowledge and educational standards, but also depend on the skill to analyse and assess complex situations to base your competent decision on this, so that the situation is improving. The students dispute about programming and evaluation methods, supervision and consulting techniques as well as empathy and the estimation of political and social dynamics.

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 organisation – 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 (Personal) Engagement in Human Rights

The students will discuss their desired learning results, perspective of their percipience and role. In small projects and group work will be detected, if their analytical skills and focus on the topics governance and human rights have changed or improved. The goal is to give a self-reflected statement which empowers the students to assess difficult situations and to decide effectively.

6.2 Governance and Human Rights in Organizations

The students learn to implement the principles of human rights based governance in political guidelines and strategies of organisations and institutions in the private and public sector. For this purpose they lean to draft concepts for initiatives, political strategies papers and plans. After finishing the course, students should be able to present ideas which they could potentially offer to actors of civil society, service sector or a corporate client.  

6.3 Human Rights and Governance Proposals and Fundraising

The preparation and writing of structured and convincing proposals nowadays is not only important to the civil society but also for the public administration and private companies. The main goal of this practice orientated class is teaching the basics of writing a thoughtful proposal and a convincing fundraising strategy in combination with good governance and human rights principles.

6.4 Project Development and Project Management Tools

In this class the students will be supported with the development of their own project which might be implemented with a partner organization in the second half of the master course. Based on the finished classes, the students learn to write a conclusive project proposal. This proposal should include a topic related relevant question and name potential problems and problem solving techniques. Additionally the basics of project management will be discussed.

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 that 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 conveys the students the tools to plan and execute actions and campaigning 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 and at once learn to use these tools in accordance with human rights and good governance.

7.3 Sustainability, Communication and Transfer

This class deals with the sustainable use of communicative and organisational skills to organise interests and the real implementation of social transformation. Nowadays, logistic skills, communication and organisational skills are important tools to conduct a peaceful social change. 

7.4 Conference Event

During the last days of attendance, the students finish the module by organizing and hosting a conference for on day. By realizing this conference, the student can pick their own thematic priority and can exert their acquired knowledge regarding project management and implementation.

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

Student projects are a fundamental component of the Master of Governance and Human Rights. They link theory and practice and enable the students to apply their knowledge and analytical skills to real-life challenges related to their professional field.

Complementary studies

Society and Responsibility (5 CP)

You are dealing with the interdependencies of organisations and its members. Upon doing so, you are considering environmental influences and learn about general management competences, especially responsible actions on the leadership, organisational and societal level.

Course sections:

  • Leadership and Responsibility
  • Change Management
  • Ethics and Values

Masters Thesis

Preparation Master Thesis/ supervision (15 cp)

The Students will write their Masters Thesis which is ideally related to project and developed by the student. It can also discuss a separate topic and issue. The focus is on knowledge transfer towards students’ projects. It is important that students use academic writing skills to outline their ideas and solutions. Students are encouraged to publish and attempt to reach the public with their learning outcomes in form of a campaign or strategy. They could further jointly set up a public event in Lüneburg or elsewhere in the world. Group activity: organizing a conference/ exhibition/ show to present the results; Personal activity: Masters Thesis.

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
Fon +49.04131.677-2530


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

E-mail contact

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