PhD in Human Rights, Society, and Multi-Level Governance


Program Description

Joint Degree with the University of Padova, the University of Zagreb, the University of Western Sydney, and Panteion University, Athens

  • Duration (years): 3 Years or 6 Semesters
  • Qualification Awarded: Doctor of Philosophy
  • Level of Qualification: Doctorate Degree (3rd Cycle)
  • Language of Instruction: English
  • Mode of Study: Full-time
  • Minimum ECTS Credits: 180

Profile of the Programme

The Joint Doctorate (PhD) in Human Rights, Society, and Multi-Level Governance is an existing three-year, interdisciplinary, joint academic programme managed by the University of Padova in Italy, the University of Zagreb in Croatia, Western Sydney University in Australia and Panteion University, Athens in Greece. The joint degree in its current form results in a Dottorato di Ricerca in Italy, a Doktorat iz društvenih znanosti in Croatia, a Doctor of Philosophy degree (PhD) in Australia, and a Didactoriko Diploma in Greece. All information pertaining to the degree can be found on its website: and the website of the Human Rights Centre of the coordinating institution, the University of Padova:

The main aspects of the scientific design of the joint doctoral programme, and its added value in relation to the existing European and national courses in the concerned countries are the following:

  • The doctorate will produce researchers with a multi/interdisciplinary profile. The doctorate programme is assumed to organize teaching, research, and training in the area of human rights studies, covering the legal, political, social, philosophical and economic approaches and methodologies in different geographical areas. Law, politics, economics, and sociology are the main disciplines involved. Both theoretical dimensions and practical analyses will be given relevance in the overall approach to be embraced.
  • The doctoral programme shall address the multi-level dimensions of human rights implementation policies. Focusing on the most innovative and critical developments, research will delve into the areas of human rights’ concern and critically assess the effectiveness, impact, and consistency of doctrines and practices.
  • The doctoral programme will be organized around the fundamental dimensions of contemporary multi-level governance in light of the subsidiarity principle. Accordingly, the focus will be on: the global dimension (the UN and UN-family legal frameworks, institutions, policies and practices); the European regional context and its global impact as well as other regional systems; the national-level dimension with the possibility of a comparative approach; and, the local-level community actors and dynamics (cities, regions, transboundary territories). Both institutions and private actors' roles will be addressed, such as transnational civil society, social movements, religious and cultural groups, NGOs, corporate companies.
  • Study and research topics will reflect the subjects addressed in the international and regional human rights legal instruments as well as in the practice that accompanies their implementation (e.g. cultural/religious pluralism and universality of human rights; evolution of regional systems of protection of human rights; justiciability of social rights as human rights: models for the fulfillment of social rights; the impact of relocation of sovereignty on human rights affirmation and implementation, multi-level governance and human rights protection).
  • The doctoral programme will develop students’ in-depth understanding, critical analysis, and application of current theoretical literature and research methodology to enable them to carry out their doctoral research project.
  • The doctoral programme will enhance students’ research skills and facilitate the development of expertise relevant to their research specialization area.
  • The doctoral programme will educate students on how to disseminate research findings, conclusions, and suggestions, for example through publishing in academic journals and/or present their work at academic conferences and seminars.

Career Prospects

Τhe programme aims to offer the highest level of scientific knowledge in the field and to prepare students for a career in tertiary education and scientific research. Students are expected to conduct state-of-the-art research that advances original and practically applicable solutions to scientific problems. Graduates of the programme will be able to demonstrate aptitude in the preparation, execution, and management of an independent research study, and to disseminate their findings to the wider academic community through publishing their work in academic journals and/or giving presentations in academic conferences and seminars.

There is no other programme with a specific focus on human rights, society and multi-level governance in Cyprus, not only at the doctoral level but at any level of tertiary education. That will make the graduates of the programme uniquely qualified and possess a competitive edge in an emerging academic discipline and environment. In addition, the interdisciplinary nature of the subject matter and the structure of the programme will develop skills and competencies that enhance graduates’ employability prospects; not only is this combination of disciplinary approaches not offered in a similar fashion at the national level but – in fact – such programs are relatively rare both at the regional and at the international level.

At the same time, the scientific design of the programme affords graduates with employability prospects beyond academia. Both in terms of the interdisciplinary nature of the programme as well its multidimensional focus at different levels of analysis on different actors and institutions will render graduates more employable by the private sector, civil society organizations, regional and international organizations.

Admission Criteria

  1. Academic Qualifications: An accredited Bachelor’s degree in Law, Politics, International Relations, European Studies, Public Administration or a related field (LLB, BA, BSc or equivalent) in addition to an accredited Master’s degree in Law, Politics, International Relations, European Studies, Public Administration or a related field (LLM, MA, MSc or equivalent). Copies of degrees awarded must be submitted as part of a complete application package.
  2. Application form: Applicants must submit an application form for admission and enrolment to the programme. The application form requests general information about the applicant, their qualifications, and relevant experience.
  3. Curriculum vitae: a complete CV specifying all academic and professional background and activities.
  4. Letters of Recommendation: Applicants must obtain two recommendation letters from individuals who have known the applicant in an educational and/or professional environment. At least one of the recommendation letters must be from an academic institution where the applicant has studied previously.
  5. English Language Proficiency: TOEFL (paper-based test 600, computer-based test 250, internet based test 100) or IELTS 6.5. For students who graduated from an English-speaking University, the English language is not a requirement.
  6. Previous theses/dissertations and any published work of academic relevance (if any).
  7. Initial Research Proposal: An initial proposal (1,500 – 3,000 words) outlining the research topic, aims and objectives, research questions and proposed research methodology.
  8. Statement of Purpose: Applicants are required to submit a comprehensive outline highlighting their academic and individual competencies and state why they believe they are suitable for admission to the Programme, as well as their reflections regarding the expectations and value of the Programme for their personal advancement and career development.
  9. Individual Interviews: The Department Doctoral Programme Committee will hold an individual interview of the applicant prior to deciding. The Department Doctoral Programme Committee, having examined the applicant’s suitability against the entry criteria, having reviewed the application and interviewed the applicant, will determine his or her suitability and the appropriateness of their initial proposal.
  10. In view of the limited number of applicants to be admitted to the programme, the Department Doctoral Programme Committee will decide on the basis of merit and by evaluating specific criteria who are the most suitable candidates to be admitted to the programme. The Committee will exercise its judgment, taking into account the overall quality, merit and feasibleness of the research proposal, the quality of the prior research work of the candidate and the candidate’s academic and other relevant qualifications as included in the curriculum vitae and the applicant’s replies and performance during the individual interview.
  11. In assessing the research proposal, the Committee will also examine the extent to which it corresponds with the objectives of the PhD programme as described in Annex 1 of the Joint PhD Agreement, i.e. producing researchers with a multi/interdisciplinary profile, mainly in the fields of law, politics, economics and sociology, where both theoretical dimensions and empirical analyses are given relevance in the overall approach to be embraced. The proposal should aim to address the multi-level dimensions of human rights implementation policies, focusing on the most innovative and critical developments, so as to critically assess the effectiveness and consistency of doctrines and practices and their impact. The focus should be on the global dimension; the European regional context as well as other regional systems; the nation-wide dimensions, preferably with a comparative approach; or the local community actors and dynamics. Institutions and private actors’ roles can be addressed. The proposal should aim to reflect the subjects addressed in the human rights instruments, as well as the practice that comes along with their implementation.
  12. The decision to admit the selected students to the programme must be approved by the Academic Board of the programme.


Course assessment usually comprises of a comprehensive final exam and continuous assessment. Continuous assessment can include amongst others, mid-terms, projects.

Letter grades are calculated based on the weight of the final exam and the continuous assessment and the actual numerical marks obtained in these two assessment components. Based on the course grades the student’s semester grade point average (GPA) and cumulative point average (CPA) are calculated.

Graduation Requirements

The student must complete 180 ECTS and all programme requirements.

A minimum cumulative grade point average (CPA) of 2.0 is required. Thus, although a ‘D-‘ is a PASS grade, in order to achieve a CPA of 2.0 an average grade of ‘C’ is required.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this programme, the students should be able to:

  1. Be specifically trained in case-analysis, project-setting, and problem-solving contexts.
  2. Acquire research skills and analytical competencies to address the socio-political challenges posed by the processes of implementation and contextualization of human rights standards and policies.
  3. Acquire the competence necessary to analyze and evaluate the quality and effectiveness of public policies carried out by intergovernmental, state and sub-state entities, including the EU institutions and organs, as well as the role of non-state actors, including corporate organizations, civil society organizations, communities, human rights activists' networks.
  4. Possess the competencies and skills required for academic careers, as well as to advise and assist public and private institutions active in the legal and socio-political fields, in education, communication and cultural mediation in implementing human rights programmes.
  5. Comprehend basic principles of research design, including an understanding of how to conceptualize legal research, formulate researchable problems, and construct and test hypotheses by applying a range of research methods and tools.
  6. Be able to manage successfully all the stages of a research project, including designing, conducting and disseminating research in a way that is consistent with both professional practice and the standard principles of research ethics.
  7. Understand and appreciate the significance of alternative epistemological positions that provide the context for theory construction, research design and the selection of appropriate analysis techniques.
  8. Understand and apply the concepts of generalizability, validity, reliability, and replicability and identify potential biases in the interpretation of research findings.
  9. Develop a sound understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of a range of research methodologies and data collection methods.
  10. Be in a position to illustrate and critically evaluate research methods used in legal inquiry and demonstrate aptitude in the preparation, execution, and management of an independent research study.
  11. Develop skills in the dissemination of findings to the wider academic community, initially through writing-up their Thesis and then through publishing their work in academic journals and/or giving presentations in academic conferences and seminars.

Scholarships - Financial Aid

The University offers scholarships and financial aid to full-time students, in the form of academic merit scholarships, financial-aid assistance, athletic scholarships, and on-campus work-study programmes.

Last updated Nov 2018

About the School

UNIC is the largest university in Cyprus, with over 12,000+ students, from over 70 countries across the globe, coming together in an innovative and transformative learning space.

UNIC is the largest university in Cyprus, with over 12,000+ students, from over 70 countries across the globe, coming together in an innovative and transformative learning space. Read less
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