PhD course: Human rights research methods

The Danish Institute for Human Rights, iCourts Center of Excellence for International Courts, and the PhD School of the Faculty of Law of the University of Copenhagen invite PhD students working on human rights related topics to submit an application to participate in our PhD course on human rights research methods.

Oplysninger om arrangementet


onsdag 15. november 2023, kl. 09:00 - fredag 17. november 2023, kl. 17:00


The Danish Institute for Human Rights, Wilders Plads 8K, 1403 Copenhagen K, Denmark


The purpose of this course is to introduce and discuss different methodical and methodological approaches to human rights research. Human rights research is a complex field, including several different disciplines within law, social sciences and humanities. The research field has been expanding over the past decades and is today characterized by a high level of multi- and interdisciplinarity. The course aims to 1) provide participants with an overview of key methodological and methodical developments within the field of contemporary human right research; 2)discuss each participant’s methodological and methodical choices; and 3) provide participants with support and guidelines for good research practices in this field.


The course runs over three days, with a programme that consists in a mix between expert lectures, PhD presentations, individual feedback, and group discussions. Five human rights experts will give presentations on different methodological issues in contemporary human rights research, including legal methodologies; quantitative methods; sociological/anthropological approaches; policy and research; and interdisciplinarity. PhD participants will present methodological and methodical aspects of their PhD projects and will receive detailed feedback from one expert. Other experts and peer participants will provide additional comments and feedback to the individual presentations.


The course is open to PhD students from law, social sciences and humanities who are working on human rights related topics. The course can accommodate approx. 15 participants. If we receive more than 15 applications, we will select participants based on 1) the quality of their paper abstract; 29 the topic of their human rights research; and 3) their discipline, aiming for a high-quality, multi-disciplinary group of participants.

Application and registration

To apply for the course, please submit an abstract (500 words) of the paper you want to present. Please indicate your institutional affiliation and the date of admission to the PhD program you are part of. Send the application to Marie Juul Petersen, Deadline for application is Friday September 29th, 2023. You will receive an answer from the organisers by Monday October 2nd, 2023.

Submission of paper

If your application is accepted, you need to submit a paper to be discussed at the course. Deadline for submission of the paper is Monday, October 16th, 2023. Your paper should contain a very short introduction to the PhD project and its research question(s), followed by a presentation of methodological considerations, choices of methods and methodological challenges. Maximum length of the paper, including references, is 8,000 words.


The PhD course gives 4 ECTS points.

Travel and accomodation

PhD students are encourated to apply for funding for travel and accomodation from their own university.

Participating researchers

A multidisciplinary team of six human rights experts will contribute to the course, giving presentations on different aspects of human rights research methodology and providing feedback to participants' presentations.

Veronica Fikfak is an Associate Professor in Human Rights Law at the University of Copenhagen. She holds a Magister Juris, M.Phil and  a D.Phil from the University of Oxford. Veronika is currently in charge of the ERC-funded project Human Rights Nudge, which looks at the impact of different remedies on states' human rights compliance practices. She is a member of the board of the European Society of International Law (ESIL) and a Managing Editor of the American Journal of International Law Unbound. Veronica is an ad hoc judge at the European Court of Human Rights.

Louise Victoria Johansen is Associate Professor at, and former Director of, the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies of Law at University of Copenhagen. Louise has a PhD in anthropology of law from University of Copenhagen. Her main research interests are law and anthropology, criminology, victimology, and sociology of law. She has published extensively on these topics, including most recently 'Between Remand and Verdict: Ethnic Minority Prisoners' Legal and Penal consciousness' (British Journal of Criminology, 2022).

Peter Vedel Kessing is senior researcher at the Danish Institute for Human Rights and Honorary Professor at the Faculty of Law at University of Southern Denmark. He has a PhD and an LLM in law from University of Copenhagen. Peter is specialized in, and has published extensively on, the prohibition of torture, police and prisons, armed conflict, counter-terrorism, and human rights. Since 2010, he has been a member of Danish National Preventive Mechanism (OPCAT) visiting places of detention in Denmark. In 2021 he was a member of the UN Committee Against Torture, and he is the Danish candidate for the Committee from 2024-2028.

Morten Kjærum is Director of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law in Sweden and Honorary Professor at University of Aalborg. He was previously director of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights in Vienna and director of the Danish Institute for Human Rights. Morten is an internationally renowned expert on human rights and has published extensively on various issues, most recently co-editing the Research Handbook on Human Rights and Poverty (Edward Elgar 2021) and Covid-19 and Human Rights (Routledge 2021). He was appointed by the UN Secretary General as member of the UN Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the field of human rights, as well as the Voluntary Fund for Financial and Technical Assistance in the implementation of the Universal Periodic Review.

Mikael Rask Madsen is Professor and Director of iCourts, Centre of Excellence for International Courts at University of Copenhagen. He has a PhD in sociology of law from École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris. Mikael's current research concerns the interaction between law and global integration, the role and power of lawyers in globalization, the increased importance of supranational legal institutions and, more generally, the international transformation of law and authority towards networked expertise.

Marie Juul Petersen is a senior researcher at the Danish Institute for Human Rights, where she works on religion and human rights. She has a PhD in sociology of religion from University of Copenhagen. Marie has published extensively on the right to freedom of religion or belief, faith-based organisations and human rights, and religion and gender quality. She has done consultancies for the Danish Foreign Ministry, EU INTPA, and others. She is a member of the OSCE's Panel of Experts on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

For more information, please contact Marie Juul Petersen,