Advice needed from gender or human rights backgrounds

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Trigger93
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Hey folks

I'm a law grad and planning on going to study a masters in Gender, Conflict and Human Rights and I need advice on two main things, any help would be greatly appreciated.

The first is the application itself, the personal statement is 500 words which is no problem but is there any theme that should always be involved in a masters personal statement or any guides people found useful when completing theirs?

The second is just the references, do they need to be academic or mixed?

The main thing is the background knowledge itself, I have studied conflict and human rights in depth but I feel I'm really lacking on gender theory, could anyone recommend some texts to introduce me and start me off?

Thanks folks!
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returnmigrant
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For any postgrad application you need to answer these 3 questions:
1) Why this program/course? (what have you done in your first degree and/or what do you want to do next that makes this course an obvious stepping stone).
2) Why this University? (what research is going on there that makes you want to go to only that Uni, or any other reasons)
3) Why me? (time to *really* sell yourself and make it clear that you are the only person they could possible make an offer to!).

References - definitely both academic, unless you have been out of Uni for more than a few years and have a reference from a very appropriate employer (ie. work directly connected to your proposed course). If in doubt, make them both from academics, and preferably with an interest in the subject you are applying for.

Appropriate reading - try 'Gender and Human Rights' by Karen Knop (published in 2003 but a very good anthology), then for a really quick summary of the various angles of feminist theory 'Feminism: A Very Short Introductio' (2005) would be good start. Other possibles are 'Created Equal' by Anna Horsbrugh-Porter (2009); 'Feminist Activism, Women's Rights and Legal Reform' by Mulki Al-Sharmani (2013), and anything you can find on on the tension between Sharia Law and Western Feminism.
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Trigger93
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That's advice, thanks so much.

In terms of what they're looking for in references, I have a slight problem in my university references in that beyond my personal tutor I was pretty unknown, I can put her down as the first, but I would I be better served using an old but glowing school reference over a second, more recent but pretty vacant university reference?
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Klix88
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(Original post by Trigger93)
In terms of what they're looking for in references, I have a slight problem in my university references in that beyond my personal tutor I was pretty unknown, I can put her down as the first, but I would I be better served using an old but glowing school reference over a second, more recent but pretty vacant university reference?
It will look odd to provide only one reference from an undergrad degree, but I guess it depends on how recent it was. Did you not work with a supervisor on a dissertation or independent research? Could your course leader at least comment on your position relative to the rest of your undergrad cohort?

You really need to ask your target uni what they would accept in the absence of a second reference. Each uni can have its own guidelines/preferences, so it's better not to guess - getting it wrong could result in your application being binned at the first hurdle. My own guess (for what it's worth) is that your target uni would prefer a more recent pro forma uni reference than an outdated school reference. People develop a great deal between school and a Masters. But the only way to be certain is to ask.
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returnmigrant
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Not school. That will look really naff.

Give the one obvious referee's details and give the other one as 'Details to follow'.

If it gets to interview stage or they actually ask for the other one you will have to come up with something - but this at least gives you time to contact some possibles. Surely there was one course tutor who would remember you?
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