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LLM in International Law

LLM (Master of Laws)

School of Law

The LLM in International Law provides the opportunity to study the 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 pathway offers you a choice of optional modules; giving you the opportunity to tailor the programme to your own interests.

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


Available start dates

September 2019 / September 2020

Teaching location

Headington Campus

Course length

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

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

  • You will gain advanced knowledge of the legal aspects of the global economic system, 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.
  • 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 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.
  • A wide variety of modules are available to tailor the course to your particular career aim and plans.Graduates of the course have gone on to careers in international legal practice, international and national trade bodies, as well as in government and academic posts.

LLM in International Law modules

Semester 1,

The compulsory modules are:

Principles of International Law
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
Provides the research, and writing skills necessary to engage with legal research at an advanced level. This includes research design, searching for relevant sources and materials, legal referencing and citation skills. It engages with 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. Finally, it prepares the students for the dissertation that each student has to complete on an area of law in practice.

Option 1: choose two modules from:

International Human Rights Systems
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 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 Investment Law
You will 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.

World Trade Law
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.

Theory of Human Rights
Introduces the foundations and principles that underpin the theory and practice of human rights. In addition to their historical evolution and philosophical foundations, their contemporary legal and political meaning and use is examined through relevant debates in domestic and international law. The module includes critical and non-western perspectives on contemporary human rights

Semester 2,

The compulsory modules are:

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: choose two modules from:

International Criminal Law 
Focuses on the development of international criminal law following the establishment of the International Criminal Court, under the Rome Statute 1998. 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, war crimes and acts of aggression. The module will focus on these crimes examining the evidential burden necessary for arguing them before the Court. Drawing on the experiences of the Yugoslavia and Rwandan Criminal Tribunals, actual cases will be examined in depth, exploring the degree to which the new court will be bounded by such decisions. Explored in detail is the notion of individual responsibility 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.

War Law
This module develops themes introduced on the compulsory module in International Law and complements themes addressed in International Criminal Law and International Human Rights Law. The three main aims of this module are to introduce candidates to the international norms and institutions concerning the use of force (jus ad bellum), the law of armed conflict or international humanitarian law (jus in bello) and transitional justice (jus post bellum). The module develops students' legal and analytical skills, promotes human rights and humanitarian law and values, and encourages high quality discussion and research in this field.

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.

Banking and Financial Law
The module 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 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 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 practise 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: 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

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.

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.

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 diplomats and commercial lawyers. LLM staff can advise you and direct you to possible careers and employers depending on your particular needs and ambitions. 

"In the future I hope to further develop my legal research skills and gain enhanced knowledge of International Law in order to pursue a career in legal research. I think that overall an LLM is a unique opportunity to develop skills that could be applied in other related areas."

LLM Alumna, Olga Chetverikova

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 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.

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 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 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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