Students will normally be required to have (or to be expecting) a good honours degree, or an equivalent degree awarded by a university outside the United Kingdom. The degree may be in Law or in a related discipline. We welcome applications from both non-Law graduates and work experience-based candidates. Students new to the academic study of law will be advised to read a number of recommended texts by way of induction before they begin the course. Students are also encouraged to attend the induction sessions provided in the week prior to the beginning of the course.
Months of entry
International law in the broadest sense is concerned not only with inter-state relations, but also with relations between states, individuals, international organisations and other non-state actors. It encompasses issues relating to the creation of legal obligations, recognition of states, the role of international organisations, liability for international crimes and dispute settlement, as well as questions such as the use of force, environmental protection, human rights and regulation of international trade and investment.
This course provides a wide choice of subjects and topics, enabling students to tailor the course to their areas of particular interest to facilitate their career aspirations. It is open to both law and non-law graduates.
Students studying for the LLM/PG Dip in International Law are required to complete the compulsorymodule in International Law (20 credits), the compulsory module in Advanced Legal Research Methods (20 credits) and one optional module (20 credits) during the first semester.
This module focuses on the law and legal framework governing the international community. We examine the philosophical underpinnings of international law including the nature, origins and basis of international law; the main sources of international law, including the importance of customs, treaties, general legal principles and international case precedents in interpreting international law; the basic rights and obligations of international actors (such as state responsibility, governmental obligations not to interfere with other, immunities and jurisdictional powers). The International Court of Justice is studied in relation to the judicial settlement of international disputes. The module builds on case studies and group exercises to assist the learning experience
Advanced Legal Research Methods
This module aims to provide the research, writing and oral skills necessary to engage with international law at an advanced level. The module begins by examining the basics of conducting legal research, including research design, searching for relevant sources and materials; legal referencing and citation skills. It further offers the opportunity to practise writing and oral presentation skills, relating to both the process of writing, as well as the end product, including presenting findings to different audiences. It considers the nature of research in general; the distinctive features of legal research and the range of approaches and research methodologies to be found within international legal scholarship. Finally, itprepares the students for the dissertation that each student has to complete on a substantive area of law.
The student can choose any four of the following options (20 credits each, totalling 80 master's-level credits)*:
International Investment Law
The module aims to examine the laws, policies and legal issues affecting foreign investment and foreign enterprises, with special emphasis on the developing world and emerging markets. The reasons why investors invest abroad and why host countries permit and often actively encourage foreign investment are explored. The role that law plays in the investment process at both global and local levels is critically examined, including the rules, principles and institutions of public international law that affect direct foreign investment, host country laws that reward and regulate foreign investment, and the law of investment contracts. The module also examines core legal principles concerning investment operation, such as standards of treatment, expropriation and compensation. Finally, the course will examine the dispute settlement regime of international investment.
International Human Rights Law: Law and Institutions
This module examines the protection of human rights under international law. It considers the protection afforded under the United Nations system, the European system, focusing on the European Convention on Human Rights, the Inter-American system, and the African system. The major international instruments are critically assessed and the effectiveness of the protection provided is questioned. Special attention is given to a range of topics which are of current interest, including issues relating to globalisation, corporate liability for human rights violations and the protection of social and economic rights.
International Human Rights Law: Law and Practice
This module will introduce international human rights law, the institutions and the mechanisms for the protection of human rights at the international and regional levels. Throughout the module the student is invited to critically examine arguments and ideas about human rights, their philosophical underpinnings, and their contemporary legal and political meaning through an examination of the relevant law, contemporary debates and case studies.
International Criminal Law
This module focuses on the development of international criminal law following the establishment of the International Criminal Court, under the Rome Statute 1998, now seated in The Hague. The module will focus on the remit of the Court, which is specifically to try those responsible for serious crimes under international law, namely genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The module will focus on these crimes examining the evidential burden necessary for arguing them before the Court. Drawing on the experiences of the Yugoslav and Rwandan Criminal Tribunals, actual cases will be examined in depth, exploring the degree to which the new court will be bound by such decisions. Explored in detail is the notion of individual and command responsibilities under the new court and how it restricts immunity, particularly for Heads of State and former Heads of State. The issue of universal jurisdiction is examined demonstrating how the seeds of justice have been sown for a new international order as it pertains to state accountability and individual responsibility in a global world where human rights are paramount.
International Humanitarian Law
International Humanitarian Law is a single module which develops themes introduced on the compulsory module in International Law. This module is optional for students registered for the LLM in International Law (SS63). It also complements International Criminal Law and International Human Rights. The main aim of this module is to introduce candidates to the international norms and institutions that support and/or influence the implementation of humanitarian norms across a range of conflict situations and other situations of violence. The module is intended also to develop legal and analytical skills, promote humanitarian law and encourage high quality discussion and research in this field. This course focuses on the branch of public international law that deals with armed conflict, in particular the principles relating to the protection of civilians and victims of armed conflict, the conduct of hostilities, the legal controls on weapons, internal armed conflict and the law of belligerent occupation which derive principally from the Hague Conventions of 1907, the 1949 Geneva Conventions and the 1977 Additional Protocols, which have become known as humanitarian law. It examines the rationale behind this body of law, the function in this field of both governmental and non-governmental agencies and the application and enforcement of the norms in the light of contemporary international and non-international armed conflicts.
International Refugees and Migrants
This module aims at providing an understanding of the issues and debates surrounding nationality and forced and economic migration at International and European law. It encourages a critical assessment of existing laws of nationality and migration in their political, social, historical context and encourages research skills in relation to the student’s individual chosen topic. It also aims at providing an understanding of the main issues in relation to human trafficking and globalisation and development.
European Union Law
This module aims at providing an introduction to the constitutional and administrative law of the European Union. The module will begin with an examination of the political development and legal nature of the European Union and the operation of its Institutions. Discussion will then focus on the nature of Union Law, its relationship with national law and the role of the Court of Justice of the EU. Finally, a number of essential topics of substantive law such as free movement of people, EU citizenship, goods, fundamental rights chosen because of their centrality in the EU system and/or their intrinsic interest, will be critically examined.
International Commercial Arbitration
This aim of this module is to introduce students to international commercial law and arbitration, and to explore core elements such as arbitral agreements, applicable law, the enforcement of arbitral awards and arbitrations involving state parties. A key aspect of international commercial arbitration that students will examine is the relationship between international commercial arbitration treaties and institutions and their counterparts in national laws. The module also addresses the use of arbitration in settling foreign investment disputes and critically examines the role international commercial law and arbitration plays in the process of economic globalization.
International Environmental Law
The purpose of this module is to provide an in-depth understanding of issues relating to international environmental law and policies. The module begins by examining the role of International Law in dealing with environmental issues, including philosophies and theories of environmental regulation and the sources of International Environmental Law. Discussion then focuses on issues of governance, including national, supranational and international institutions and their regulation of the environment. Issues in environmental litigation are examined followed by discussion of key contemporary debates relating to environmental protection. The module does not attempt a comprehensive review of this very wide topic. Instead, it focuses on key themes that run through the problem of environmental regulation in international law, using specific regulatory regimes as illustrations.
International Labour Law
This module examines international labour law, concentrating on the work of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). It starts by considering the history and workings of the ILO. It then examines various theoretical issues raised by the search for universal and international standards for labour rights. The main focus of the module is on the fundamental labour standards, as identified by the ILO itself, those being rights to freedom of association, the abolition of forced labour, non-discrimination and the reduction in child labour. The difficulties of enforcement of these standards are examined. Reference is made to other international standards such as those of the UN and the EU.
International Intellectual Property Law
The module aims to introduce students to the theory and basic concepts of intellectual property law, including patents, copyright, and trademarks. It explores the international law that defines and regulates them, particularly the TRIPS Agreement, and the relationship between international law and national intellectual property law. Students are then invited to explore and analyse areas of current controversy, such as the relationship between patents and traditional knowledge, the challenge of biotechnology, the emerging protection of personality rights, the morality exception to patentability and the problem of patenting pharmaceuticals and protecting the needs of developing countries.
Corporate Governance and Corporate Social Responsibility
Corporations largely adopt corporate social responsibility voluntarily. In a globalised world, most businesses are conducted transnationally which means that the effective regulation of good business practices, the preservation of CSR and good corporate governance are met with difficulties. This module advances the idea that corporate social responsibility and good corporate governance of business practices can be achieved effectively through a joint activity. The role of key participants acting together such as corporations, their shareholders, their directors, their stakeholders (e.g. employees), host States and their regulating bodies, their partners, NGOs and international organisations is significant. This module aims to explore the legal mechanisms (such as regulations) as well as the non-legal mechanisms (such as incentivising factors) that ensure participants working together to achieve CSR and good practices.
Students who complete at least 60 credits over the taught elements of the course are eligible for the award of the Postgraduate Certificate in International Law.
International Economic Law
This module examines the key aspects of the public international law of trade and finance. International trade, in its public sense, comprises the multilateral regulation of trade through the World Trade Organisation as well as the many free trade agreements that have been concluded outside the WTO framework. These agreements between governments limit and determine their powers to restrict the flow of goods and services between countries. As such they form a significant backdrop to the conduct of international business transactions between private parties as well as the conditioning of trade activity by all States. The majority of the module focuses on the fundamental principles of international trade contained in GATT 1994 under the WTO Agreement. In addition, the module examines international financial institutions such as the IMF and World Bank that have a role in the regulation and dispensation of financial goods, including currency movements and major project funding. This module is intended to outline the key international regimes at work in the contemporary trade and financial worlds, and allow students to explore and understand the reach of these institutions in international law.
Law of International Business Transactions
The purpose of this module is to provide an introduction to the relevant components of business transactions within a global economy. The module focuses on the “micro” perspective of the private business actor, rather than the “macro” or public policy perspective of the regulator. It begins by introducing the basic transactions for the purchase and sale of goods, an analysis of various types of contracts, and remedies available for the breach thereof. Discussion subsequently focuses on special problems arising between buyer and seller where goods are carried in a container, followed by an examination of the various types of contracts for the carriage of goods by sea. The focus of the module then turns to banker's commercial credits, examining both the types of credits and then the contractual effects between the buyer and seller; buyer and banker; and the seller and banker. After sale of goods, the module proceeds to more complicated distribution and licensing agreements, and ultimately to joint venture and foreign direct investment agreements. Finally, the module considers dispute resolutions in international business transactions. This course prepares for ‘Advanced Issues of International Business Transactions’.
Advanced Issues of International Business Transactions
This course aims at giving students who already are acquainted with the law on International Business Transactions the possibility to go into depth into selected problems. The course is designed to allow intense discussions of these problems in order to raise the sensitivity for the issues at stake and to lead to a research oriented approach. The course will treat a selection of topical contemporary issues of international business transactions, such as international e-commerce, UN Sales Convention (CISG), UNIDROIT Principles of International Commercial Contracts, charter parties, multimodal transport, marine insurance, agency agreements, international franchising, FDI and corruption. The course seeks to be as topical as possible, so the content may change in the light of developments.
Law, Globalisation and Development
This module examines the history, theories and application of the concepts of development andglobalisation under international law. In particular it focuses on the key aspects of economic activity and environmental protection currently regulated under the auspices of the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the World Bank and other international and regional institutions. These systems are subjected to critical assessment and the positive and negative effects of the global project of development are questioned. The module also devotes time to contemporary topics relating to the right to development, food security, post-conflict and transitional countries, natural resource law, foreign direct investment and protests against development projects and programmes.
Your LLM dissertation is an extended and supervised piece of work on a particular aspect of international law chosen in consultation with your course tutors. It is an opportunity to gain knowledge through systematic academic enquiry and for you to demonstrate your ability to explore and present legal arguments. The style of research may range from empirical investigation to textual analysis. You will develop transferable skills in research and information and project management.
You will be encouraged to choose an international law topic of personal interest or one related to your occupation. Full-time students will normally begin preliminary work on the dissertation in Semester 1 and formalise the topic and structure of the dissertation in Semester 2. The main work on the dissertation will normally take place from June to mid-August.
*Please be aware that availability of options may vary from year to year subject to staff availability and student demand.
Information for international students
You will usually need: IELTS 6.5 overall including 6.0 in reading and writing and 5.5 in speaking and listening
Fees and funding
Qualification and course duration
Course contact details
- Programme Administrator
- +44 (0)1865 484931