Plan of studies

The Programme of the Master of Advanced Studies in Children’s Rights (MCR) counts for 60 ECTS credits (European Credit Transfer System) and takes place over a two-year period. The plan of studies includes seven week-long residential teaching modules, distance learning sequences, group work and individual tasks, as well as reading, writing and practical learning exercises. Students are also required to complete an original research paper on a subject of their choice (‘MCR Thesis’) which approaches children’s rights from an interdisciplinary and international perspective.

Residential teaching: themed modules

      The residential teaching modules are ordered going from the general to the specific. Modules one and two take a comprehensive, theoretical approach to children's rights studies and thereby aim to develop a critical understanding of the fundamental debates in children’s rights, both from an international and an interdisciplinary perspective. From module three onwards, this theoretical understanding is then applied to several important and illustrative children's rights themes, including child protection strategies and policies, criminal justice, child labour and education, migration and policy implementation and monitoring. The modules are held either in Sion or in Geneva; they start on Monday and run until Friday evening.


      11 – 15 February 2019
      Module 1: Children's rights and childhood studies
      Valais Campus (Sion)

      20 -24 May 2019
      Module 2: International children’s rights law
      University of Geneva

      9 – 13 September 2019
      Module 3: Child protection strategies and policies
      Valais Campus (Sion)

      25-29 November 2019
      Module 4: Children’s rights and criminal justice
      Valais Campus (Sion)

      9 -13 March 2020
      Module 5: Child labour and education
      Valais Campus (Sion)

      15 – 19 June 2020
      Module 6: Children’s rights and migration
      University of Geneva

      23 – 27 November 2020
      Module 7: Children’s rights policy implementation and monitoring
      Valais Campus (Sion)

      Work between the modules

      In order to facilitate consultation of up to date scientific and professional literature, students have on-line access to a comprehensive set of reading material with relevant articles and book chapters pertaining to the themes discussed during the modules. In addition to reading, individual or group tasks are assigned in relation to the themes discussed during the modules. Examples include: collect jurisprudence related to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC); compile statistical data on child labour or on school enrolment; select a ‘good practice’ of child participation. Other learning activities include participation in a seminar or conference or carry out an internship (optional) related to the content of the programme.


      Students are required to complete an original research paper (‘MCR Thesis’), which can be written in English or in French, on a subject of their choice that includes an interdisciplinary and international perspective. Each student is assigned a tutor who acts as academic supervisor and supports the thesis writing process.
      In the past, students have worked on a wide variety of themes, for instance:

      • The rights of children deprived of parental care: Domestic adoption of children in Kenya;
      • A case study of a children’s playground in Paris;
      • Child soldiers or soldier children?
      • Children’s agency in DDR Programmes;
      • The establishment of an independent national human rights institution for children in Iran;
      • Unaccompanied child migrants in the United States;
      • Children influencing public policy in Lebanon;
      • A study of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) from the perspective of children’s rights;
      • A case study on the right of refugee children to birth registration in a refugee camp;
      • The right to quality education for children with disabilities in Danish primary schools;
      • The application of UNICEF's Child Friendly School model in Aceh, Indonesia.

      Basic features

      Three basic features run throughout the MCR programme: the interdisciplinary character, the interplay between theory and practice and the international scope. The comprehensive nature of children's rights studies makes it an interdisciplinary field of studies par excellence. Throughout the programme, lecturers from several scientific disciplines exchange ideas and offer insights on a variety of issues pertaining to children's human rights. The dialogue between these disciplines offers contrasting and complementary viewpoints.

      Throughout several working methods, the programme offers the space to reflect on the interplay between academic theories and international practice in the field of children’s rights. The programme approaches the study of children’s rights from an international perspective, building on international legal instruments such as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and other human rights treaties and standard-setting instruments. The participation of lecturers and students from different regions of the world assures that a diversity of regional and cultural viewpoints on children’s rights issues are discussed.

      Learning outcomes

      The MCR Programme offers participants the opportunity to acquire specialised theoretical and practical knowledge on children’s rights, with a particular emphasis on its international and interdisciplinary dimensions. It aims to deepen understanding of and promote critical thinking concerning the normative content, implementation practices and advocacy discourses related to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child as well as other international legal and policy documents. In addition, the Master of Advanced Studies in Children’s Rights intends to develop specific knowledge and skills; at the end of the training programme students:

      • have acquired detailed knowledge of children’s rights in the fields of law, sociology, psychology, culture and economics, including differences in gender and culture;
      • are capable to adopt a critical approach to understanding the origins, nature, limits and implementation of children’s rights from an international and interdisciplinary perspective;
      • have increased their skills in collaborative and independent learning via the resolution of intellectually challenging tasks in order to improve problem-solving and critical-thinking skills;
      • learned relevant theoretical, methodological and analytical techniques and develop skills in order to identify and contribute to resolving issues and problems relating to the realisation of children’s rights;
      • have improved their presentation and advocacy skills via the production of seminar presentations, discussion papers, essays and project work dealing with particular themes
        in children’s rights;
      • developed the necessary tools to use human rights standards and mechanisms at a national and international level.


      At the end of the programme, participants who have met all of the requirements for completion of the academic programme receive a degree conferred by the University of Geneva. The degree awarded is the ‘Master of Advanced Studies in Children's Rights’.