International Human Rights Law Summer School

Key facts

International Human Rights Law Summer School

Length: 4 weeks
Dates: Sunday 10 July - Saturday 6 August 2016
Location: New College, Oxford 
Modes of teaching: Residential summer school
Programme fees: £7405.00
Application deadline: 1 April 2016

International Human Rights Law Summer School

This summer school offers participants the opportunity to follow an intensive programme of university-level study in international human rights law within the beautiful surroundings of New College, Oxford. The programme was established by the University of Oxford and George Washington University Law School in 1995 and around 1300 students and practitioners from all over the world have attended the summer school since that time.

Over four weeks, faculty, participants and invited guests create an international camp where key contemporary challenges to the protection of human rights and dignity are placed into focus. The residential nature of the course allows participants to immerse themselves in the topic and create lasting connections with faculty and peers. This intensive programme explores the international and regional human rights law and enforcement machinery and a range of challenges to the protection of human rights. The programme places a particularly strong focus on the enforcement of law in practice.

The programme is taught by an internationally recognised faculty combining both academic and practical experience. The course offerings focus on the theory and practice of international human rights law and include an introductory course in the fundamentals of international human rights law, an advanced course in human rights advocacy and electives that address important contemporary issues in the field. The programme also includes key note honorary lectures, a careers panel and a number of social events.

The next programme will run from 9 July to 5 August 2017. Admissions will open in early 2017 and this website will be updated with information specific to the 2017 programme at that time . The 2017 programme will be very similar to 2016  but course offerings and tutors are likely to be different and fees will be higher due to annual fee increases. If you would like to be kept informed, please email inserting IHRL SS 2017 in the subject line and we will add you to our mailing list. Alternatively, use the 'notify me' button under 'Key Facts' on the right of your screen.

Course details

Course aims

The programme aims to provide an intensive immersion in international human rights law and practice. Students will learn about key international and regional human rights laws and the enforcement of human rights by courts, quasi-judicial bodies, the UN and other inter-governmental organisations and non-governmental actors.  The introductory morning session aims to provide a basic grounding in the field of international human rights law for students with no prior knowledge. The advanced morning seminars aim to build on students' existing knowledge. The afternoon electives aim to provide students with an opportunity to specialise in a key sub area of international human rights law or international humanitarian law. More broadly, the programme is intended to prepare participants to contribute to the improvement of human rights conditions in their homelands and around the world.

Level and demands

This course is an intensive programme of university-level study and potential applicants should therefore be confident that they are academically and linguistically prepared for such a programme.

If your first language is not English, you must supply evidence of your proficiency before a place can be offered. Further information about accepted English tests and minimum scores for this course are listed in the Admissions section.


Assessment for all classes in this programme is by way of written examination and class participation but examinations are only compulsory for those seeking credit from the programme (see below).

Please note: all written examinations take place on the same day.

Certificates and credit

All students who satisfactorily complete the programme will be awarded a Certificate of Attendance. To qualify for this, students are required to attend lectures and seminars to the satisfaction of the course tutors. The examinations at the end of the programme are optional but those students seeking credit from the programme will need to sit them.

The programme is accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA) for 5 semester credits (only for students who have applied through George Washington University) and UK Solicitors may wish to take the course under the SRA's new 'continuing competence' approach (following major changes to the CPD requirements by the SRA, the course is no longer recognised as accredited CPD training). Oxford itself does not offer credit and therefore those wishing to obtain credit from their home institution for attending the programme must make appropriate arrangements with that institution in advance. Participants can request information to provide to the home institution which details contact hours (for lectures and seminars) and grades achieved in the examinations. The level of credit, if any, must be determined by the home institution.

Course structure

The 2016 programme begins on Sunday 10 July. Programme orientation and library registration are held on Monday 11 July. Classes are held mornings and afternoons Tuesday 12 to Friday 15 July, Monday 18 to Thursday 21 July, Monday 25 to Friday 29 July and Monday 1 to Wednesday 3 August. Friday 22 July is a reading day. Examinations will be held on Friday 5 August and the programme concludes at 09:00 on Saturday 6 August. Please also refer to the course content page.


Please note that the fees information below is for those applying for the 2016 programme through Oxford University Department for Continuing Education (OUDCE) (i.e. all those from outside North America). Fees information for North American applicants is listed in US dollars on the website of George Washington University Law School with whom the programme is jointly run. North American applicants must apply and pay their fees through George Washington University.

Programme fee: £7405.00

Fee includes tuition, written materials, library fees and full-board accommodation in New College. Travel is not included.

Private bathroom supplement: £218.00

Many of the bedrooms have private bathrooms but such a room can only be guaranteed if the private bathroom supplement is paid. 

Application fee: £25.00

All applicants are required to pay a non-refundable application fee of £25.00 which will be deducted from the programme fee if they are offered a place on the course. Those who accept a place on the course must pay the programme fees in full by 1 May 2016. We regret that places cannot be held for applicants whose fees are not paid in full by this deadline, and under no circumstances will students be admitted to the programme unless fees have been paid in full.

Cancellation policy

All enrolments are subject to OUDCE's Terms and Conditions for Course Registration and Fee Payment. If you wish to cancel you must inform the Programme Administrator by email at

OUDCE reserves the right to alter details of any course should illness or any other emergency prevent a tutor from teaching, and to cancel a seminar if exceptionally low enrolment would make it educationally unviable. If it becomes necessary to cancel a seminar, participants enrolled on that seminar will be notified immediately and will receive a full refund if we are not able to offer them their second choice of seminar option. In the unlikely event that the entire programme needed to be cancelled, all participants will receive a full refund.

Applicants are very strongly recommended to take out vacation cancellation insurance, and should consult their travel agent and/or insurer for information and advice. Please note that OUDCE does not provide any insurance cover.


Santander Scholarships

Santander are providing three partial Scholarships of £5000* for participants attending the 2016 Summer School in International Human Rights Law. In order to be eligible for the awards, students must be ordinarily resident in one of Santander's 'Network Countries'** and be able to demonstrate an intention to return home after the programme. Applicants will be selected on the basis of their academic record and evidence of commitment to the furtherance of human rights.

Applicants who are ordinarily resident in one of the Santander Network countries will automatically be considered for an award. It is not necessary to submit any additional documents specifically for the Scholarships and there is no separate Scholarship application form. However, applicants may wish to address the selection criteria in their personal statement and CV/resumé.

US applicants, who must apply to the programme through George Washington University, will also be considered for the awards and should submit their application according to the instructions on George Washington University Law School website.

* Please note that the course fees for the programme are £7405 and students will need to self-fund the rest of the programme fee, travel to the programme, insurance and any other assocated costs.

** Santander Network countries: Argentina, Brazil, Belgium, Chile, China, Colombia, Germany, Ghana, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Uruguay, UAE, UK, USA.

Other sources of funding

With the exception of the Santander Scholarships, neither the University of Oxford nor the George Washington University can provide funding for this course. Participants are therefore encouraged to contact the following institutions who have funded applicants in previous years or have provided assistance in searching for funding:

  • The British Council in your home country
  • The British Embassy or High Commission in your home country (click here to find contact details)
  • Agencies within the United Nations (primarily for their employees)

Participants are encouraged to apply to these institutions as early as possible.


Who should apply?

The course is suitable for human rights professionals as well as those hoping to embark on a career in this field. We welcome applications from practicing lawyers and judges, members of the armed forces, government officials, lawyers and other persons working for non-governmental and inter-governmental organisations that work in the field of international human rights. We also welcome students with any of the following: an undergraduate degree (including in subjects other than law); those with at least two years of legal study towards an undergraduate degree; those with at least one year of legal study towards a graduate degree. The class includes a wide array of human rights professionals, law students at the George Washington University and students studying various subjects at a variety of universities.

In 2015, a total of 69 students attended the programme: 53 of these came from the US and 16 from countries including Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, China, Denmark, Ghana, Hong Kong, Mexico, Philippines, Romania and UAE.

English proficiency

This course is an intensive programme of university-level study and potential applicants should therefore be confident that they are academically and linguistically prepared for such a programme.

If your first language is not English, you must supply evidence of your proficiency before a place can be offered. The University recognises only certain English tests. The accepted tests and minimum scores for this course are listed below.

  • IELTS (Academic): minimum overall score of 7.0 plus a minimum of 6.5 in each component
  • TOEFL: minimum overall score of 600 plus a minimum of 4.5 in the Test of Written English
  • Internet-based TOEFL: minimum overall score of 100
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English: minimum overall score of C

The requirement to provide English proficiency scores may be waived, at the discretion of the Course Director, in cases where you have successfully completed, or are currently completing, a full-time degree-level course of a minimum of nine months at a recognised institution where the medium of instruction and assessment is entirely in English. Similarly, if you have used English as your main working language for a number of years the requirement may be waived. If you wish to apply for a waiver of the English language test requirement, you will need to upload a letter with your application outlining the reasons why you believe you should be exempted. The request will be considered by the Course Director at the same time as your application is assessed and, if successful, you will not be required to supply proficiency results as a condition of any offer made.

Further information:

Application procedure

North American applicants plus any student enrolled in a North American institution or professional working within North America, regardless of nationality, should apply through the George Washington University Law School with whom the programme is jointly run. All other applicants should submit an online application through Oxford University for which a £25 application fee is payable (see below).

As part of your application you will be required to upload the documents listed below so please have these ready before you start:

  • A curriculum vitae (CV) / resumé
  • A passport photo (jpeg)
  • In the case of non-native speakers of English, either a certificate of English Language proficiency showing that you meet the minimum requirements for this course or a request for a waiver of the requirements (if you meet the criteria for doing so - see above)

You will also be asked to write a personal statement of up to 250 words outlining your reasons for wishing to attend the programme and what you believe your contribution will be.

The closing date for applications is 1 April 2016 but early application is advised as applications are reviewed on receipt and some courses fill very quickly. Applications which are incomplete at this deadline or where no application fee has been paid will not be considered. Late applications may be accepted if places are left or become available. You should email to enquire about late applications unless this website states that the course is full or is not accepting late applications.

Once your application has been considered, we will email you to inform you of the outcome. If you are offered a place on the course, we will ask you to respond in writing to accept or decline the offer. If you accept, we will send you an invoice for the course fees by email. Payment for the course must be received by 1 May 2016. Places will not be held for applicants whose fees are not paid in full by the due date and under no circumstances will participants be admitted to the programme unless all fees have been paid in full.

Confirmation of your enrolment on the programme will be sent by email, together with a link to the 'Joining Notes' for the programme which include information on what to bring, travel, arrival and departure times, college facilities, dress code etc.

Payment of application fee: This should be paid online via Oxford University Stores. A direct link is available here. If the direct link does not work, please go to Oxford University Stores, choose ‘Continuing Education'from the Product Catalogue, then 'IP' (or 'International Programmes') and finally ‘IHRL (or 'International Human Rights Law’). Select the product called ‘Application fee for International Human Rights Law Summer School 2016’, click on ‘add to basket' and follow the instructions. Please note that you should enter exactly the same personal details to pay your application fee as you have used on the applictaion form so that payments and applications can be easily matched. Where information does not match, the processing of applications may be delayed.

Note on immigration and visas

If you are an EEA (European Economic Area) or Swiss national you do not need a visa to enter the UK to participate in this Summer School. You are free to enter the UK as long as you show your EEA or Swiss passport on arrival. Countries of the EEA are listed at

If you already have non-student permission to be in the UK such as a Dependant Visa, Ancestry Visa or Working Visa (i.e. any visa which allows you to work in the UK) this will cover your attendance at the Summer School. You should not use a General Visitor Visa or enter the UK as a General Visitor for the programme as this does not confer permission for this study.

If you are NOT an EEA or Swiss national, and do not already have a visa in one of the categories listed earlier, you will need to apply for a visa or 'leave to enter' the UK under the Short term study route which allows students over the age of 18 to study either part-time or full-time for up to 6 months in the UK. Depending on your country of nationality, you will either need to apply for a visa in advance or for 'leave to enter' on your arrival in the UK. You can check this at (make sure you choose the ‘six months or less option when it asks for how long you plan to study in the UK). Whether you are required to apply in advance or may do so on arrival, you must provide certain documentation to support your entry to the UK.

Further information about the Student Visitor route will be provided on confirmation of your place on the course. In the meantime, you are advised to visit the website of the UK Border Agency at to find out (a) whether you need to apply for a visa in advance, (b) what documents you must provide in support of your application for a short-term study visa and (c) what the processing times are for advance applications.

Further information

Joining notes

Once your place on the course is confirmed you should read the 'Joining Notes' for the programme. These provide detailed information about the programme as well as how to prepare for the course and for your arrival in the UK. Please read the notes very carefully and in particular the section on UK immigration if you are a non-EU participant. For any supplementary information please contact the Oxford Programme Administrator.

The 2016 Joining Notes are available to download here.

Enquirers / applicants from North America

Please send any enquiries / applications to the George Washington University Law School at the contact details below: 

GW/Oxford Summer Program in International Human Rights Law
The George Washington University Law School
2000 H St., NW, Washington, D.C. 20052

Tel: 202 994 6588

Enquiriers / applicants from the rest of the world

Please send any enquiries / applications to the University of Oxford at the contact details below:

Programme Administrator
International Human Rights Law 
Department for Continuing Education
University of Oxford
Rewley House
1 Wellington Square
Oxford OX1 2JA, UK

Tel: +44 (0)1865 270281

Terms and conditions

Terms and conditions for applicants and students on this course

Sources of funding

Information on financial support