Protecting human rights, refugees and displaced persons in international law


This core module provides you – regardless of whether you have a legal background or not - with a firm understanding of the fundamentals of international law in relation to the protection of refugees and human rights.

Topics covered

  • Key concepts, standards and mechanisms in public international law, international human rights law and international refugee law
  • Military interventions and the use of force between States
  • Who is a refugee?
  • Refugee rights and the impact of large-scale refugee flows
  • Complementary protection under human rights law
  • Implementation and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
  • Refugee status procedures

Learning outcomes

This module seeks to impart a critical understanding of the key concepts, standards and mechanisms of international law as applied to the protection of refugees and displaced persons. You will learn to build, deploy and defend legal arguments concerning the fundamentals of refugee and human rights protection, and apply these legal frameworks to practical scenarios based on contemporary factual situations.


Each core module is assessed via a final item of coursework, which comprises 70% of the overall grade, and five online assessments (E-tivities), which make up 30% of the overall grade.

Module team

Elizabeth Mavropoulou - RPFMS tutor

Elizabeth Mavropoulou - Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies

Elizabeth studied law in Athens (LLB) and trained as solicitor in two law firms in Athens. She is a Greek qualified attorney at law (non-practising). She completed her postgraduate degree in International Law at the University of Westminster (LLM, Distinction). She worked on maritime welfare in the NGO–human rights sector, where her work focused on research, advocacy and publications.

Currently she is legal advisor to Human Rights at Sea, a UK-based charity. She is also a Doctorate Researcher (PhD/MPhil candidate) at the University of Westminster, researching the concept of responsibility-sharing in international refugee law through the prism of the principle of common but differentiated responsibility, for the purposes of understanding its potential as a guiding principle to the Refugee Convention’s implementation. Her general research interests are public international law, international refugee and human rights law, international humanitarian law and the law of the sea. Elizabeth is also greatly interested in the interplay of international law and international relations.

Nikolas Feith Tan - Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies

Nikolas is a researcher at the Danish Institute for Human Rights, where he works on refugee and asylum law.

In 2019 Nikolas defended his PhD dissertation which investigated bilateral cooperation in the field of migration control and asylum. His academic work has been published in the International Journal of Refugee Law and European Journal of Migration and Law and in specialist edited volumes. He is coordinating editor of Asylum Insight.

Nikolas has taught masters-level courses related to international refugee law with Aalborg University and Aarhus University, and since 2016 has tutored the core module, RPM010, on this programme.

Nikolas has also acted as legal consultant on fundamental rights in hotspots and on international asylum claims for the Danish Refugee Council and for Amnesty International Denmark on community sponsorship of refugees.

Pauline Endres de Oliveira, module convenor

Pauline Endres de Oliveira - Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies

Pauline is a human rights lawyer from Berlin. She studied law at the Humboldt University and the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, with legal traineeships in Brazil, London and Rome.

Pauline is a lecturer in asylum and migration law at the Humboldt University of Berlin (Refugee Law Clinic) and member of Amnesty International’s expert commission on asylum. Pauline is also an editorial board member of the Informationsverbund Asyl & Migration, Germany’s main independent institution providing background information for asylum and migration practitioners.

She is currently a PhD fellow at the University of Giessen, focusing on the topic of legal access to international protection in the EU. Previously, she worked as a consultant for UNHCR Germany from 2013–2015 and in 2016 she was a visiting study fellow at the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford.

Riona Moodley module conveynor

Riona Moodley - Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies

Riona is an Australian lawyer and PhD candidate at the Andrew and Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at the University of New South Wales, Sydney (UNSW). Her doctoral research focuses on proposals in the European Union to process applications for asylum and refugee status before migrants reach Europe. In particular, her research assesses the legal feasibility of implementing such measures under international and EU human rights law.

Riona is also a teaching fellow at the Faculty of Law, UNSW, and lectures on core LLB subjects including civil procedure, dispute resolution and corporations law. Prior to her studies, Riona worked as a litigation lawyer in the Global Disputes team at the US law firm, Jones Day, and has over 10 years of experience working in commercial legal practice. Her current research interests include European human rights law, international refugee law an the extraterritorial processing of asylum seekers.

Natasha Yacoub, module convenyor SAS

Natasha Yacoub - Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies

Natasha is a Doctoral candidate at the University of New South Wales and affiliate of the Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law. Her thesis is titled: ‘Rethinking the history of refugee protection in Southeast Asia: Law, policy and practice’.

She is presently on leave from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, where she has been posted since 2001 in conflict and non-conflict settings in Egypt, Sudan, Ireland, United Nations Headquarters New York, Myanmar, Australia and the Pacific Island States.

Natasha also served as a decision-maker on the Refugee Review Tribunal and Migration Review Tribunal in Australia from 2012–2014. Her research interests are ‘regional refugee protection’, refugee status determination, statelessness, the protection of civilians and the protection of refugee women and girls.