Social justice programs

Available in three streams: Development Studies, Peace and Conflict, and Human Rights
Making a real difference to justice, peace and sustainability in the world today requires ingenuity and expertise as well as imagination and integrity.

The new Master of Social Justice equips students to address some of the globe’s most challenging social, political, and environmental issues. It does this through vibrant coursework, deeply committed teachers, and a grounding in three critical approaches to social justice: development, peace and conflict, and human rights.

What will I learn?

The coursework in the Master of Social Justice consists of a carefully designed combination of conceptual analysis, empirical study, and skills training. In a supportive, collaborative environment meant to encourage community building among Master of Social Justice students, you will:

  • debate the ideas that serve as a foundation for social justice principles; 
  • gather empirical evidence from specific case studies from a range of topics and geographical locations; 
  • and apply this knowledge through classes that enhance and stretch your skills in strategic thinking, communication and advocacy. 

The complexity of contemporary social justice issues demands multi-layered responses, and our classes – covering topics such as peace and reconciliation, Indigenous justice, poverty, refugees and migration, and the United Nations – will provide you with the critical knowledge you need to develop imaginative, ethical and evidence-backed approaches to make a real, sustainable difference in the world.

My research on the urban informal economy and conditional cash transfer programs in Southeast Asia addresses the two most contemporary social justice concerns of how the poor earn income and how governments distribute it to them.
Dr Robbie Peters, Development Studies lecturer

What’s the difference between the Master of Social Justice's three streams?

You will select one of three streams:

  • Development Studies - confront the challenges of achieving just and sustainable development outcomes that will improve people’s social, economic and cultural lives.
  • Peace and Conflict Studies - explore the intellectual and practical approaches of attaining peace with justice, covering topics such as peace journalism, transitional justice, reconciliation and conflict transformation
  • Human Rights - gain a critical understanding of the roots of human rights violations and the tools and mechanisms deployed to promote and protect them, while developing key skills in research, analysis, communication and advocacy that can be applied in domestic, regional and international contexts.

What are my career opportunities?

Employers in the fields of peace, human rights, and development know that a broad, interdisciplinary perspective is critical to doing social justice work. It is also the cornerstone of deeply analytical research. Students who have studied these fields at the University of Sydney have established themselves as university academics as well as in challenging, exciting jobs all over the globe, including:

  • in media (Guardian and ABC News);
  • in government positions (AusAid and DFAT);
  • at intergovernmental organizations (the World Bank, the International Labour Organization, and the United Nations);
  • in NGOs (the World Wildlife Fund, Amnesty International, and Oxfam); and
  • in the private sector (Deloitte Australia, WestPac, and Woolworth’s).
Prior to working at the University of Sydney, I was fortunate to lead a national disability organisation, and got to see first-hand how human rights are implemented. I worked with the then brand new Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Dr Dinesh Wadiwel, Human Rights lecturer

I am not sure about a full-time 18-month degree. Are there other options?

Absolutely! Your options include: 

With a Graduate Certificate of Social Justice, you take four units, through which you will gain a sense of how our program engages with social justice from an interdisciplinary perspective.

In this eight unit course, you will focus on one of our three streams, allowing you to obtain a strong understanding of either peace and conflict studies, development studies, or human rights.

*All of the above options can be converted into a Master of Social Justice.

Drawing on over 20 years of field research with local communities in Rwanda, Burundi, Sierra Leone, Cambodia and Timor Leste, I bring personal stories and anecdotes along with practical experience to enliven and enrich my classes on transitional justice, reconciliation and peacebuilding.
Dr Wendy Lambourne, Peace and Conflict Studies lecturer

Meet some of our teachers

Our teaching staff draw on high-level practical and professional experience in the three tributary fields of peace, human rights and development, as the wellspring of their critical scholarship.

With their expert support, you can bridge the streams to synthesise your own distinctive, integrated approach to vital issues in your life and career.

Banner image: Photo by Jake Lynch

Dr Susan Banki

Program Director, Master of Social Justice
I have learned about the world’s thorniest social justice problems – and ethical responses to them – from the ground up. From work in Nepal, West Papua, and Geneva, I learned to maintain a critical lens about jumping into global social justice problems without requisite knowledge about the consequences of such work. I bring equal measures of passion, urgency and caution into my classroom.
Dr Susan Banki