Human Rights and Democratisation (Asia Pacific) Regional Program

The Asia Pacific is the largest and most diverse region in the world. Stretching from the shores of the Pacific Ocean to the deserts of the Middle East, it includes three of the world’s most populous countries, is home to more than half of the world’s population and offers unparalleled cultural richness. However, the Asia Pacific is also home to a number of severe human rights challenges such as massive poverty, discrimination against vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, armed conflict and violence, forced internal displacement of people, exploitation of children, people-trafficking, environmental and cultural destruction and corruption.

The Master of Human Rights and Democratisation (Asia Pacific) regional program (MHRD) is a degree that seeks to develop the capacity of emerging leaders in the Asia-Pacific region. Its aim is to equip them to investigate these issues and protect and promote human rights in a manner that is carefully attuned to regional issues and perspectives. The degree program was established in 2010 by a consortium of five universities and remains the only one of its kind in the Asia Pacific.

The MHRD partners are:

  • Ateneo de Manila University (the Philippines)
  • Gadjah Mada University (Indonesia)
  • Kathmandu School of Law (Nepal), and
  • University of Colombo (Sri Lanka)
  • Mahidol University (Thailand) are an associate institution who will host the 2015-16 Regional Learning Hub

Georgie Wheadon
Project Manager

The MHRD is tailored to address the particular objectives and perspectives of people working in the field of human rights and democratisation at a number of levels. These include in governmental, non-governmental and international organisations, education, the police or military, business or other fields where human rights perspectives are critical.

The program, as a whole, comprises foundational core units and a core elective unit at the University of Sydney, two intensive units of study hosted within the region and delivered by the MHRD consortium, and a regional core unit at a collaborating institution in the region. Scholars of the MHRD also choose either an experiential or research-based elective stream where they either gain professional experience on a placement with a human rights or democracy organisation or conduct substantial independent research for a dissertation. At the end of the program, students graduate with a firm grounding in the philosophical, political, institutional, legal, sociological and cultural dimension of human rights and democratisation. The Master of Human Rights and Democratisation (Asia-Pacific) regional program brings the study of human rights and democracy to life.


Georgie Wheadon
Project Manager
Phone: +61 2 9114 1132

Awards and Requirements

Please refer to the degree resolutions in the Faculty Handbook for information on the specific admission requirements for different coursework award courses.

Master of Human Rights and Democratisation
Candidates for the Master of Human Rights and Democratisation (Asia Pacific) regional program are required to complete 60 credit points as follows:

  1. A minimum of 24 credit points of units of study to be completed at the University of Sydney;
  2. A minimum of 24 credit points of units of study be undertaken at (a) regional partner/s including 18 credit points of elective units of study as a research component comprising either a dissertation or an internship;
  3. A minimum of 30 credit points of core units of study;
  4. A minimum of 12 credit points of core elective units of study.

Candidates elect to undertake either a dissertation (18cp), or an internship (18cp) elective pathway at their regional partner host. For the dissertation, candidates conduct original independent research in the areas of human rights and/ or democratisation under the academic supervision of a relevant expert. The dissertation comprises a piece of written piece of work that is between 15,000 and 18,000 words.

The internship involves a 180 hour placement in an inter-governmental, governmental or non-governmental organisation specialising in human rights and/or democratisation. Students will have opportunities to immediately put into practice the knowledge acquired throughout the academic year with an aim to acquiring and improving practical work experience, establishing a dialogue between the students and the host organisation, and fostering access to the job market. They are required to complete several assessments, including an Internship Research Report of between 5,000 and 8,000 words.

The availability of elective units is subject to change, depending on the collaborating institutions’ role in the program each year. Students should discuss available options with the Degree Director.


There are currently no research degrees offered in Human Rights and Democratisation, but potential applicants are referred to the Sociology and Social Policy section of the Postgraduate Handbook.