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LLM in Commercial Law and International Trade

LLM (Master of Laws)

School of Law

The LLM in Commercial Law and International Trade provides the opportunity to study how the law relates to commercial endeavours within a globalised economy, from the perspective of the private business actor. It enables you to specialise in areas such as international commercial arbitration, cross-border transactions, international investment law, intellectual property law, anti-corruption, corporate governance and corporate social responsibility.

It is ideally suited to students from a commercial law, business, management, or economics background, who are looking to gain advanced knowledge of the application of legal principles and mechanisms to the world of international commerce.

As well as the LLM in Commercial Law and International Trade, we offer two other specialised LLM courses: LLM in International Law and LLM in Human Rights Law.

Available start dates

September 2019 / September 2020

Teaching location

Headington Campus

Course length

  • Full time: LLM: 12 months; PGDip: 9 months
  • Part time: LLM: 24 months; PGDip:18 months

For full application details, please see the 'How to apply / Entry requirements' section.

  • You will gain advanced knowledge in the areas of international and commercial legal practice, intellectual property, import-export, insurance, investment, shipping and freight and commodities, essential for today's legal or business professional.
  • In the 2014 REF 96% of the School of Law’s research was internationally recognised. You will have the opportunity to become involved in research via specialist modules in which the teaching staff have expertise and by the supervising of dissertations in their specialist subjects.
  • A wide variety of modules are available to tailor the course to your particular career aims and plans.
  • Oxford has much to offer graduate students. As one of the world's great academic cities, it is a key centre of debate, with conferences, seminars and forums taking place across a range of international law topics within the university, the city of Oxford and in nearby London. In addition to our own excellent libraries and resource centres, LLM students also have access to the unparalleled legal holdings at the Bodleian Law Library.
  • Your course tutors, fellow students and alumni are drawn from countries around the world giving you the opportunity to build a truly international network of contacts.
  • Special support is provided for international students, particularly those whose first language is not English, to ensure that they find their feet quickly and are able to participate fully.

LLM in Commercial Law and International Trade modules:

Semester 1,

The compulsory modules are:

World Trade Organisational 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
This module provides 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 Legal Research Methods
Introduces you to the legal research methods, in preparation for your dissertation.

Option 1, then choose one module from:

International Corporate Governance
New module for LLM in Commercial Law and International Trade, description will be available soon.

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.

Semester 2,

The compulsory modules are:

Advanced Issues of International Business Transactions
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 that content may change in the light of developments.

International Economic Law
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.

Option 2, then choose one module from:

International Commercial Arbitration
Introduces students to international commercial law and arbitration, including arbitral agreements, applicable law, the enforcement of arbitral awards and arbitrations involving state parties. The module also addresses the international regulation of conducts of foreign investment and critically examines the role international commercial law and arbitration plays in the process of economic globalization.

Banking and Financial Law
Provides a comprehensive overview and introduction to the banking business and its nexus with financial instruments and markets. In order to do so the module situates the modern wholesale and retail financial services sector and the business organisations supplying these services in their historical trajectory from the earliest development of fractional reserve banking in European nation- states into the nineteenth and twentieth century with particular attention to the US and UK, and other large economies for comparative leverage (Germany, Japan). The core purposes of financial intermediation will be examined: lending (for corporate finance, project and trade financing), the relationship between banks and other forms of corporate finance, the quasi-public utility of the payments system, and the UK and EU standards governing provision of retail/consumer financial services. The causal role of banks and financial markets and participants in historical and recent recessions and depressions will be considered and classical regulatory responses (central banking as lender of last resort) and more recent innovations in banking regulations (soft law across border, Basel Accords inter al) assessed as a response to the role banks and the panoply of financial organisations (including the shadow banking sector) play in servicing the real economy.


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 note, as courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the module lists you choose from may vary from the ones shown here. Availability of options may also vary from year to year subject to staff availability and student demand.


Teaching and learning

A wide diversity of teaching methods are employed throughout the LLM courses in order to provide a high-quality learning experience. These include lectures, seminar discussions, individual and small group tutorials, case studies,  group and individual presentations, and moots. 

Particular emphasis is placed on skills training, with opportunities provided to acquire and practise legal reasoning as well as research and IT skills. Assessment methods include coursework, and individual and group presentations.

Programme changes

On rare occasions we may need to make changes to our course programmes after they have been published on the website. For more information, please visit our Changes to programmes page.

Tuition fees

Home/EU - full time fee: 2019/20: £6,710 (Masters) £6,040 (Diploma) 2020/21: £7,250 (Masters) £6,250 (Diploma)

Home/EU - part time fee: 2019/20: £3,420 2020/21: £3,625

International - full time: 2019/20: £14,050 2020/21: £14,500

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course, if any, are detailed in the 'This course in detail' window above.

Questions about fees?
Contact Student Finance on:
+44 (0)1865 483088

Funding and scholarships

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.

English language requirements

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

Please also see the university's standard English language requirements

English requirements for visas

If you need a student visa to enter the UK you will need to meet the UK Visas and Immigration minimum language requirements as well as the university's requirements. Find out more about English language requirements.

International applications

Preparation courses for International and EU students

We offer a range of courses to help you to meet the entry requirements for this course and also familiarise you with university life. You may also be able to apply for one student visa to cover both courses.

  • Take our Pre-Master's course to help you to meet both the English language and academic entry requirements for your master's course.
  • If you need to improve your English language, we have pre-sessional English language courses available to help you to meet the English language requirements of your chosen master’s.

If you are studying outside the UK, for more details about your specific country entry requirements, translated information, local contacts and programmes within your country, please have a look at our country pages.

How to apply

Terms and Conditions of Enrolment

When you accept our offer, you agree to the Terms and Conditions of Enrolment. You should therefore read those conditions before accepting the offer.


Graduates from the LLM succeed across an impressive range of careers from policy makers and human rights activists through to high flying diplomats and commercial lawyers. LLM staff can advise you and direct you to possible careers and employers depending on your particular needs and ambitions. 

"I have joined a corporate law team at a leading multinational law firm in Beijing, thanks to my LLM."


LLM Alumna, Lin Zheng

Pursuing an academic career in law

Research is fundamental to the Law School and is one of the reasons we performed so well in the last REF. Your own interests will be reflected in the modules you choose and many students feel moved to continue their academic studies and become specialists themselves. Several former LLM students have chosen to become researchers - publishing and lecturing on their work and graduating to do a PhD.

"The grounding that I now have in international law has allowed me to take on work that I would not previously have been qualified for. For example, I am currently developing a programme of litigation on the issue of counter-terrorism and human rights for an international organisation. I have lectured at Harvard Law School and been invited to contribute to an edited volume produced by Harvard."

LLM Alumnus Richard Carver, Associate Lecturer and Human Rights Consultant. 


What our students say » 


How Brookes supports postgraduate students

The LLM has a dedicated student support co-ordinator who can give advice on the course, finance, accommodation or personal issues which may be affecting your study and will also regularly update you with information on visiting speakers, careers advice and course announcements. 

They can also help you to access other support services in the University such as ‘Upgrade’, which offers confidential advice on study skills, and English language support through the international centre.

You will be assigned an academic adviser, and a Legal Skills Tutor will be available to help with study and writing skills.

Supporting your learning

From academic advisers and support co-ordinators to specialist subject librarians and other learning support staff, we want to ensure that you get the best out of your studies.

Research highlights

Professor Ilona Cheyne has been invited to participate in the EU COST group on 'Fragmentation, Politicisation and Constitutionalisation of International Law', working on standards of review in international courts and tribunals.

Dr Chieh Huang's work concerns the interaction between the global economic legal system and China, the development of regional/bilateral economic agreements in East Asia, and more recently the trade and investment between China and West Africa. She is also currently working on international commercial and investment dispute resolutions

Research areas and clusters

Oxford Brookes academics who are at the forefront of a wide range of internationally recognised and world-leading research and projects. In the 2014 REF 96% of the School of Law's research was internationally recognised. The LLM course team consists of researchers working within the International Law, Critical Approaches to Law and Fundamental Rights and Equality research groups. LLM students can attend the programmes of research seminars and other events that underpin the research culture of the School of Law.

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