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LLM in International Human Rights Law

LLM (Master of Laws)

School of Law

The LLM in International Human Rights Law offers the opportunity to gain a critical understanding of the history and theoretical underpinnings of international human rights, international and regional human rights systems, and the practical application of human rights norms in a range of contexts. This course is ideally suited to students from a law, history, politics, or other social sciences background. 

It is designed to provide the specialist skills and in-depth knowledge that will be attractive to employers in the areas of international legal practice and international development as well as those who intend to pursue careers in international governmental and non-governmental organisations.

As well as the LLM in International Human Rights Law, we offer four other specialised LLM courses: International Trade and Commercial LawInternational Law, International Economic Law, and International Law, Globalisation and Development.

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.

  • It is ideal if you intend to pursue a career in international governmental and non-governmental organisations, as well as in government and academic posts. Recent graduates from this course have gained positions in international organisations, such as UNICEF.
  • You will gain advanced knowledge in areas such as international criminal law, the laws of armed conflict, humanitarian intervention and post-conflict reconstruction, international development and globalisation, refugee and migrant law, and the promotion and application of human rights as part of legal reform in the developing world.
  • All members of the LLM course team undertake original and internationally-recognised research in their subject and encourage students to become involved in their respective areas of research by teaching specialist modules in which they have expertise and by supervising dissertations in their specialist subjects.
  • As one of the world's great academic cities,Oxford 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 have access to the unparalleled legal holdings at the Bodleian Law Library.
  • 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. 
  • 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.

Students studying for the LLM in International Law are required to complete the compulsory modules in International Human Rights: Law & Institutions, the compulsory module in International Law (20 credits), and the compulsory module in Advanced Legal Research Methods (20 credits) during the first semester.

In semester two you take the compulsory module in International Human Rights: Law & Practice (20 credits). In addition you can choose any two of the listed options below (20 credits each, totalling 40 M-level credits):

International Law

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. This module builds on case studies and group exercises to assist the learning experience

International Human Rights Law: Law and Institutions

This module introduces international human rights law, the institutions and the mechanisms for the protection of human rights at the international and regional levels. Throughout the module you are 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 Human Rights Law: Law and Practice

This module examines international human rights law through key, wide-ranging case studies including the right to development, group rights, self-determination and human rights in wartime, considering how contemporary legal and political contexts affect IHRL today. Using primary documents, case law and academic commentary, each topic is appraised from a practical perspective, underpinned by theory and principles. 

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 that you will undertake on a substantive area of law. 

In Semester 2 you can choose any two of the following options (20 credits each, totalling 40 master's level credits):*

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. It examines 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 focuses 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 you 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 provides 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 provides an understanding of the main issues in relation to human trafficking and globalisation and development.

International Environmental Law

The purpose of this module is to provide 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 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.

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.

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 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.

International Intellectual Property Law

The module introduces you 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. 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.

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 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, and group and individual presentations. 

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

All the members of the LLM course team are active researchers and encourage students to become involved in their respective areas of research by teaching specialist modules in which they have expertise and by supervising dissertations in their specialist subjects.

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: 2018/19: £6,580 2019/20: £6,710

Home/EU - part time fee: 2018/19: £3,360 2019/20: £3,420

International - full time: 2018/19: £13,770 2019/20: £14,050

Where part time fees are quoted this is for the first year only. Fees will increase by up to 4% each year.

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

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.

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

Please also see the university's general entry requirements.

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. 


"The LLM offered by Oxford Brookes has already helped me very much. It has given me that international profile that is required by all the bodies and agencies of the United Nations. Without this course I would not have had the opportunity to undertake an internship with the UN and finally understand what path I want to follow in my professional career."

Stefano Consiglio, LLM International Human Right Law graduate


Pursuing an academic career in law

Research is fundamental to the Law School - one of the reasons we performed so well in the latest 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 » 


Free language courses for students - the Open Module

Free language courses are available to full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students on many of our courses, and can be taken as a credit on some courses.

Please note that the free language courses are not available if you are:

  • studying at a Brookes partner college
  • studying on any of our teacher education courses or postgraduate education courses.

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.

Personal support services

We want your time at Brookes to be as enjoyable and successful as possible. That's why we provide all the facilities you need to be relaxed, happy and healthy throughout your studies.

Research highlights

Professor Peter Edge researches in the interaction of religion and law, and the law of small jurisdictions including International Finance Centres. Recent projects exploring these at the transnational level have included a study of foreign lawyers working in small jurisdictions, and a comparative study of the status of ministers of religion in employment law. Past PhD students have worked on projects such as a comparison of the European Convention on Human Rights and Shariah, and a comparative study of how criminal law treats religion.

Professor Lucy Vickers’ research into the religious discrimination at work has led to consultancy work for Equality and Human Rights Commission, as well invitations to speak at United Nations with the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief. 

Sonia Morano-Foadi, interviewed and quoted in The Economist, secured £12,000 from the European Science Foundation to fund exploratory work into the effects of EU directives on migration and asylum.

Dr Michael John-Hopkins researches human rights law, humanitarian law and refugee law. The main threads running through these fields of enquiry are the issue of land and access to land, the right to return, decontamination, mediating and supervising competing private and public interests in land. His publications in this area cover targeting and weaponry law in contemporary conflicts, the housing crisis and resolving land issues in post-conflict environments.

Research areas and clusters

Oxford Brookes academics 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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