Studying Human Rights 101: What to do before you get here


Welcome to your amazing journey in studying human rights!

To gear yourself up for the start of the semester, the Global Campus of Human rights Asia Pacific (GC Asia Pacific) and the Mahidol University’s Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies (IHRP) have collaborated to present you this pre-study package to human rights. Before anything and everything else, we want to prepare you with the essential information you need to get the most out of this challenging experience.

Buckle up and read this step-by-step guide in Studying Human Rights 101. We’ve divided this guide into two main sections: what you need to know and what you need to develop.

Let’s get started!

What do I need to know?

Step 1. Start with the introduction

Kickstart your IHRP journey towards the promotion and protection of human rights in Southeast Asia with an overview of human rights provided by the SHAPE-SEA program.

Step 2. Look at the basics

Have a closer look at the chapters on the fundamentals of human rights, international human rights standards, and treaties. Simple and straight to the point, these three chapters provide you a better understanding of what being human, having rights, and living in an interconnected international community calls for. It is also important to note the origin, foundations, and even the controversies of human rights.

Step 3. Read The Frickin' Manuals (RTFM)

Familiarize yourself with human rights manuals to deepen your understanding of the topic. Conceptualized from the basic notion that every individual can make a difference, you can use this manual as a tool to help you understand the basics in a user-friendly and easy-to-understand format. Explore training modules that can be adapted and applied to your own specific interest in the field. You may also learn how human rights law works in the international context.

Step 4. Identify your interests

Whether you’re interested in state mechanisms, women’s rights, child rights, and/or simply human rights in general, feel free to delve into the videos and reading materials that we have carefully selected for you. Learning more about something that you are passionate about will help you identify what you want to do while in the program and where you wish to proceed after for your career.

Step 5. Explore more

Stay tuned for the IHRP introductory videos made especially for you! We understand that all students come from diverse educational and professional backgrounds, and to get to know your lecturers and your courses would be helpful. IHRP makes sure that you know what to expect from the program and what the program expects from you.

Still want more? Feel free to watch these informative clips by TEDx Talks, UN Human Rights (UDHR 1 and UDHR 2), NYU School of Law and the Oxford Law Faculty.

What do I need to develop?

Take note that all the courses in the program will require you to analyze and criticize information on a human rights issue. Beyond the assignments and short essays, you are also required to write and present your very own thesis project. We know full well how this can be a challenge and thus it is advised for you to hone the following skills.

Step 1. Sharpen your attention

In this day and age of constant distractions and interruptions, improve your focus and enhance your concentration to better situate yourself to the most pressing needs and demands of our time.

Step 2. Better your academic skills

Expect that the courses will demand a lot of reading and writing, so learning about the appropriate writing styles beforehand would be advantageous for you. Also, you need to polish your writing skills by learning how to write effectively and how to structure your essays. Most importantly, we expect you to practice proper citing and referencing and to avoid all forms of plagiarism.

Step 3. Develop critical analysis 

Learning with us is not limited to receiving information from other scholars and academics. Above all, we encourage you to provide your own substantive contribution to the discourse. Thus, it is most important for you to develop the skill of critical analysis to help address the gaps in literature.

Step 4. Refine your research skills

Your most important requirement for your degree is your thesis project. Know the elements of a title and how to determine your research questions. Learn how to write your literature review through these useful videos by groups like Academic Skills, Center for Research Quality, Grad Coach, and Real Smart Media. You also might want to check out these tips by Ayana Campoli, David Taylor, Ghislaine, and Henny Admoni. Viewing all of the links here is not mandatory, but the collection provides useful tips to take note of in approaching your own thesis project for the degree.

Take note of the possible methodologies in research through these helpful videos by NurseKillam and the University of KwaZulu-Natal South Africa. Your approach also matters a whole lot, and you may learn more from Diana Lizarraga, Dr. Gillian Rosenberg, Embraced Wisdom Resource Group, and E-learning Qualitative Methods. Beyond providing you an overview of how to go about your methodology and approach, know that these materials can also help you in your career and/or future studies. We recommend that you keep this compilation at hand for your ease of reference and work throughout the year.

Step 5. Be tech-savvy!

Last but not least, acquaint yourself with how to use the GSuite for many, if not all, of your requirements will require you to use at least one of the GSuite tools (e.g. Google Docs, Drive, Forms, etc.).

In addition, classes at the IHRP will be held mostly online for the first semester, so you may want to learn how to use Zoom.


All in all, know that your lecturers will always be willing to help you in your human rights journey – before, during, and even after you have graduated from the program. Although the program lasts for a short period of time, we aim to impart as much knowledge, skill, and experience to help you in your journey towards defending human rights.

As an extra incentive to studying these materials, IHRP will organize a short quiz to test your knowledge of the mandatory readings during the first week of the program.

ขอบคุณ (Khob-khun/Thank you) and we look forward to having you this year!