Taught course

International Trade and Commercial Law

Oxford Brookes University · School of Law

Entry requirements

You 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. Those of you new to the academic study of law will be advised to read a number of recommended texts by way of induction before you begin the course. You are also encouraged to attend the induction sessions provided in the week prior to the beginning of the course.

Months of entry


Course content

The LLM in International Trade and Commercial Law provides the opportunity to study some of the most important aspects of international trade and commercial law.

The course is ideally suited to students from a law, business, management, politics or other social science background, offering an opportunity to explore this dynamic area of law.

Students studying for the LLM in International Trade and Commercial Law are required to complete thecompulsory module in Law of International Business Transactions (20 credits), and the compulsorymodule in International Economic Law (20 credits) in the first semester, as well as the compulsorymodule in Advanced Legal Research Methods (20 credits).

In the second semester you take the compulsory module in Advanced Issues of International Business Transactions (20 credits. In addition you can choose any two of the listed options below (20 credits each, totalling 40 M-level credits):

Law of International Business Transactions

This module provides an introduction to the relevant components of business transactions within a global economy. It focuses on the 'micro' perspective of the private business actor, rather than the 'macro' or public policy perspective of the regulator. It introduces 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. Focus 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 module prepares for ‘Advanced Issues of International Business Transactions’.

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 outlines the key international regimes at work in the contemporary trade and financial worlds, and allows you to explore and understand the reach of these institutions in international law.

Advanced Legal Research Methods

This module provides the research, writing and oral skills necessary to engage with international law at an advanced level. It 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, it prepares you for the dissertation you will complete on a substantive area of law.

Advanced Issues of International Business Transactions

This module gives those of you already acquainted with the law on International Business Transactions the possibility to go into depth on selected problems. It 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. 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 are covered. As this module seeks to be as topical as possible, the content may change in the light of developments.

In Semester 2 you can choose any two of the following options (20 credits each, totalling 60 master's level credits)*:

International Investment Law

This module examines the laws, policies and legal issues affecting foreign investment and foreign enterprises, with special emphasis on the developing world and emerging markets. 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, it examines the dispute settlement regime of international investment.

International Commercial Arbitration

This module introduces you to international commercial law and arbitration, and explores 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 you 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 globalisation.

International Intellectual Property Law

The module introduces you to the theory and basic concepts of intellectual property law, including patents, copyright, and trade marks. 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. You 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 (eg employees), host States and their regulating bodies, their partners, NGOs and international organisations is significant. This module explores 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.

Law, Globalisation and Development

This module examines the history, theories and application of the concepts of development and globalisation 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.

International Environmental Law

This module provides an in-depth understanding of issues relating to international environmental law and policies. It 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 focuses on the work of the International Labour Organisation (the ILO). It starts by considering the history and workings of the ILO and the various theoretical issues raised by the search for universal and international standards for labour rights.

The main part of the module is devoted to an examination of 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 of child labour. The difficulties of enforcement of these standards are examined. Reference is also made to other international standards such as those of the UN and the EU.

European Union Law

This module provides an introduction to the constitutional and administrative law of the European Union. It starts with an examination of the political development and legal nature of the European Union and the operation of its Institutions. Discussion then focuses 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, are critically examined.

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.


Your LLM dissertation is an extended and supervised piece on 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

An IELTS minimum score of 6.5 (with 6.0 in reading and writing) is required.

Fees and funding

For Masters scholarships, please visit:

Qualification and course duration


full time
12 months
part time
24 months


part time
18 months
full time
9 months

Course contact details

Programme Administrator
+44 (0)1865 484931