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Course Overview



The LLM in International Commercial Law and Practice by online learning aims to provide you with an advanced knowledge and understanding of the international context in which business currently operates.

The programme focuses on legal responses to the developments shaping international commerce today, as lawyers and business professionals are increasingly required to look beyond domestic law to find solutions appropriate to their international business needs and opportunities.

The programme offers an approach to learning and teaching based on academic rigour in legal education, balanced with a focus on professional practice as both the context and the medium for learning about international commercial law. As a student on the programme, you will become familiar with the complex framework of international legal instruments that apply within international commerce, including international conventions and regulatory instruments, and also relevant ‘soft law’. In addition, you will explore and critically analyse those standards, statements of best practice and guidelines of significance to the operation of international commerce in specific industry sectors.

The LLM in International Commercial Law and Practice offers several core modules which cover the regulatory and policy-based aspects of international commercial law and also modules which are focused on particular industry sectors such as oil and gas law and the law relating to the commodities markets.

You will choose from core modules in the areas of:

  • arbitration and dispute resolution
  • corporate governance and compliance
  • international tax law
  • energy law and climate law
  • contract law.

You can also choose two modules from our range of optional modules. This allows you to tailor your programme and engage with a range of subject areas within the fields of intellectual property, information technology, innovation and medical law.


Why study international commercial law?

Globalisation and developments in technology have led to a marked increase in international trade in goods and services, in international investment, and in the development of global financial markets. In parallel, the world of international commerce has seen major growth in the regulation of commercial activity at a national and international level, and in international litigation and arbitration.

The LLM in International Commercial Law and Practice will equip lawyers and business professionals with a deeper understanding of how international commercial law operates in practice today.

The programme is therefore designed for you if you are:

  • a lawyer who wants to internationalise your practice, or deepen your knowledge in a specialist area;
  • an in-house lawyer with an interest in expanding your legal knowledge and industry focus;
  • a business professional working for (or intending to work for) international commercial organisations, who needs to operate in heavily regulated industries, such as oil or shipping;
  • a compliance officer, or a legal or commercial manager, who must constantly update your legal awareness.

International commerce requires people to make difficult decisions every day, with legally binding consequences. These actions cannot be taken without regard to the legal context. The LLM programme in International Commercial Law and Practice will complement existing experience and skills, and enable you to react to issues and events decisively and knowledgeably.



The LLM in International Commercial Law and Practice by online learning gives you the opportunity to study a wide range of courses covering regulatory and policy-based aspects of international commercial law and also particular industry sectors such as oil and gas law.

The programme consists of 180 credits, comprising taught courses worth 120 credits (60 credits per semester) and a 10,000 word dissertation worth 60 credits.


International Commercial Law courses

You must study between 80 and 120 credits from the following courses:


  • Contract Law in Europe (20 credits)

    This course is a comparative contract law course. Contract law is part of each country’s national law. The main focus of the course is fundamental concepts of the law of contract, which arise in all systems. The course compares national systems of contract law, principally Scots, English, French and German law. The course also considers some of the harmonisation initiatives that have taken place in Europe over the last decade, principally the Draft Common Frame of Reference (Principles, Definitions and Model Rules of European Private Law).
    One of the themes of the course is whether there is, indeed, a split between the common law and the civil law tradition in the field of contract law within European countries. Is there, in fact, a gulf between the two traditions? Are harmonising initiatives likely to succeed? The debate on these issues will be informed by the analysis of the national legal systems which form the focus of this course.


  • Corporate Compliance: Case Studies in Law & Ethics (20 credits)

    This course will examine the legal, ethical, and social compliance issues that arise in an international business setting. Each week will consider regulations from different countries, international standards, and guidance documents that address issues from bribery to working conditions in factories. Case study analysis will be used to not only identify non-compliant practices, the consequences of violations, and the lack of leadership accountability, but also to highlight successful codes of conduct, transparent compliance programs, and ethical corporate cultures. This course focuses on real-world legal issues, legal accountability, and the interconnections between multi-national corporations and governments around the world.


  • European Competition and Innovation (20 credits)

    This course examines the principal issues arising from the application of Articles 101 and 102 TFEU to practices aimed at furthering innovation and investment. It will include a consideration of the following topics:

    • Article 101 TFEU: current approaches to prima facie anti-competitive agreements in general; legal implications of joint venture arrangements and the application of Article 101(3) to individual cases; the current Block Exemption on Technology Transfer Agreements.
    • Article 102 TFEU: current approaches to abuses of dominant position generally the 2009 Enforcement Priorities document; abuse of dominance in innovative industries; the problem of network effects; issues arising from the application of Article 102 to industry leaders’ refusals to deal and to license.


  • Law of Climate Change (20 credits)

    This course explores the law concerning climate change with particular focus on its sources, principles and processes. It critically questions the role of law in enabling humanity’s responses to such a unique global challenge.
    This is an area of regulation that has developed most influentially in the realm of public international law in the form of the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its 1997 Kyoto Protocol, as well as the 2015 Paris Agreement. More than twenty years since the adoption of the UNFCCC in 1992, the international legal regime of climate change has branched off into numerous issue areas and related processes for the implementation of climate change mitigation (reducing greenhouse gasses emissions) and adaptation measures.
    At the same time, this ‘international climate change regime’ interacts with other issues areas of public international law (e.g. human rights and international trade regulation), as well as with regional (primarily under European Union law), national and sub-national regimes.
    Throughout the module, you will critically debate the rationales for past and current regulatory approaches under the international climate change regime. You will also learn how the interactions with other regimes can favour or hamper progress in climate change action from states and other actors, including individuals.
    Law of Climate Change takes an inter-disciplinary approach, drawing on insights from economics, ethics, international relations theory and the physical sciences. A feature of this course is its close relationship to fundamental research that is undertaken across the University.


  • Comparative and International Corporate Governance (20 credits)

    The course focuses on the theory, law and practice of the governance of corporations across different jurisdictions. Corporate governance regulates the relationships between various corporate constituencies (directors, officers, majority and minority shareholders, employees, creditors) with a view to establishing an adequate system of controls that prevents any single corporate constituency from acquiring overriding power or influence. Because legal systems rank social priorities differently, several models of corporate governance have emerged worldwide. Corporate governance has become a key topic for legislators, practitioners, and academics in all modern industrial states. It has been increasingly recognised as an important element of sustainable development. Consequently, comparative knowledge and understanding of corporate governance are essential tools for business lawyers and policy makers, especially after the recent financial crisis which highlighted some shortcomings of the corporate governance systems.


  • Dispute Resolution Methods (20 credits)

    This course will offer a unique and practical introduction to dispute resolution methods and will equip students with both theoretical and practical understandings of a topic of growing domestic and international significance.
    In an increasingly globalised world resorting to courts is not always experienced as a fast and effective way of resolving disputes. The parties may wish to maintain a good working relationship over many years to come, or they may simply not want to commit to a potentially costly, time and resource intensive litigation process with an uncertain outcome. Even more so, if their counterparty is based abroad, the questions of international jurisdiction and enforcement arise and add another layer of difficulty. Alternatively they may be interested in long term projects to preserve cash-flow by finding a fast resolution, even if interim.
    In response to the need for cost-efficient, timely and appropriate dispute resolution, several methods have been developed taking proceedings outside the usual setting of the courtroom. Parties and their advisers ought to be aware of the array of dispute resolution mechanisms, their potential application and features in order to be able to select the tool best suited to their needs. Certain industries, such as the construction industry, use tools, specifically developed to cater for the particularities and needs of the industry. Online dispute resolution has been developed both for the unique online setting but also to aid a speedy and cheap resolution of off-line disputes.
    This course offers an introduction to a range of dispute resolution mechanisms, their potential application and features and their domestic and international legal framework.


  • International Law, Human Rights and Corporate Accountability (20 credits)

    This course will examine the history of human rights beginning with a discussion of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted in 1948 through to contemporary issues generated by globalization.
    In addition to analysing International Human Rights Law and the rights and duties of multinational corporations and state actors regarding human rights, the course will consider the contributions of institutions, NGOs and the international human rights movement.
    Throughout the weeks we will evaluate aspects of accountability, enforcement and legal liability. Case study analysis will be used to examine human rights abuses, litigation, the role of states to protect human rights and the culpability of corporate actions. We will discuss the controversial issues surrounding corporations as subjects of international law while considering trends for future remedies including the concept of legally binding requirements.


  • International Oil and Gas Law (20 credits)

    The course will begin with an overview of the industry and the key economic and political actors, and provide an introduction to the role of oil and gas in international relations and to the economics of the industry. The course will also provide an introduction to the principles of public and private international law relevant to the industry, and how these operate in practice with reference to industry-specific contracts, agreements and instruments.
    There will be a detailed analysis of ‘upstream’ issues and the legal issues surrounding exploration, including a comparative analysis of the different legal regimes surrounding exploration rights and specific problems with exploration, such as joint exploration and exploration in disputed territory.
    The course will analyse the various commercial arrangements in the industry such as Joint Ventures (with an emphasis on Joint Operating Agreements) and will also look at arrangements regarding infrastructure. The course will also cover ‘downstream’ issues such as the trading and transportation of oil and gas, with reference to industry specific contracts. Finally, the course will analyse the particular issues concerning the States as actors in the oil and gas industry including stabilisation clauses, state immunity and international dispute settlement.
    Through the use of primary sources, secondary literature and case studies, the course aims to promote a deeper understanding of the operation of the international oil and gas industry, of the legal issues facing the industry and the various solutions. The course also aims to develop students’ understanding of the operation of international commercial law in a practical context. The course aims to assist students in taking a critical and comparative approach to the relevant legal issues and to view these in their economic and political context.


  • International Commercial Arbitration (20 credits)

    This course will offer a unique and practical introduction to international commercial arbitration and will equip students with both theoretical and practical understandings of a topic of growing international significance.
    In response to the need for cost-efficient, timely and appropriate dispute resolution, several methods have been developed taking proceedings outside the usual setting of the courtroom. Perhaps the most popular and successful of these (in the field of international trade) is international commercial arbitration.
    The law and practice of international commercial arbitration seeks to find solutions which fit the needs of international business. The aim is to provide a neutral process acceptable to both parties to a transaction, one which minimises the risks of forum shopping and avoids the problems of conflicts over legal forum and applicable law, one which is commercial and sensitive to commercial needs.
    International commercial arbitration is a creature of agreement and cannot operate without the consent of the parties. Nonetheless the system cannot operate without legal regulation and a considerable body of law has developed as the process becomes more popular.
    The law in question deals with issues such as how national legal systems regulate arbitration, give effect to arbitration agreements and enforce the decisions of arbitrators. Additionally there is a considerable amount of ‘soft’ law, dealing with matters of how the process should operate and best practice for parties, counsel and arbitrators.
    The course will focus on this body of law and how it operates in practical situations. The course will focus largely on international law and practice, with domestic and national solutions used mainly as examples of a developing international practice.


  • Principles of International Taxation (20 credits) – this course will not be offered in the 2019/20 academic year.

    The aim of the course is to allow participants to become familiar with all rules concerning the distribution of taxing rights between countries, and the consequent problems in terms of tax competition, tax avoidance and the balance between the protection of revenue interests of states and the taxpayers rights.

Optional courses - group 1

You can choose between 0 and 40 credits of the following courses:


  • EU Data Protection Law (20 credits)
  • Communications Law (20 credits)
  • Law of Robotics (20 credits)
  • Intellectual Property Law – Copyright and Related Rights (20 credits)
  • Fundamentals in Bioethics (20 credits)
  • Shaping Modern Healthcare (10 credits)
  • Regulating Health and Social Care Professionals (10 credits)
  • Legal Aspects of Managing Intellectual Property (20 credits)
  • European Health Law and Policy (20 credits)
  • Governance of Innovative Medicine (20 credits)
  • Forensic Computing and Electronic Evidence (20 credits)
  • International and European Media Law (20 credits)
  • International Intellectual Property System (20 credits) – this course will not be offered in the 2019/20 academic year.
  • EU Law (20 credits)
  • Withdrawal from the EU and the Law (Brexit) (20 credits)
Optional courses - group 2
  • Electronic Commerce Law
  • Information Technology Law
  • Global Health: Law and Policy
  • The Fundamentals of Law and Medical Ethics
  • Biotechnology, Bioethics and Society
  • Intellectual Property Law – Industrial Property
  • Law and Ethics at the Start and End of Life
  • Intellectual Property and Human Rights
  • Information: Control and Power

Entry requirements


The LLM in International Commercial Law and Practice by online learning has start dates in September and January of each academic year. 

We recommend that you apply as early as possible; this is particularly important for applicants who may need to allow sufficient time to take an English language test

Applicants with a degree from a USA country other than the USA

If you have a non-USA degree, please check whether your degree qualification is equivalent to the minimum standard before applying.


English language requirements

Postgraduate study in the field of law requires a thorough, complex and demanding knowledge of English, so we ask that the communication skills of all students are at the same minimum standard.

Students whose first language is not English must therefore show evidence of one of the following qualifications below:

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.5 in each module).
  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 23 in each module).
  • PTE(A): total 67 (at least 61 in each of the Communicative Skills sections).
  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 176 in each module).
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III (with a pass in all four components).

Your English language certificate must be no more than two years old at the beginning of your degree programme.

We also accept an undergraduate or masters degree, that was taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country as defined by USA Visas and Immigration . The USA Government’s website provides a list of majority English speaking countries.

View the USAVI list of majority English speaking countries

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree, or equivalent, that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about the University’s English language requirements

Your application may not be successful if you do not currently satisfy any of these requirements; alternatively, you may be offered a place conditional on your reaching the satisfactory standard by the time you start the degree.

How to apply


The LLM in International Commercial Law and Practice by online learning has start dates in September and January of each academic year. 

We recommend that you apply as early as possible; this is particularly important for applicants who may need to allow sufficient time to take an English language test



Documentation required

Applications are made online via the University Application Service, EUCLID.

Please follow the instructions carefully and make sure that you have included the following documentation with your application:

  • Degree certificates showing award of degree.
  • Previous academic transcripts for all past degree programmes.
  • A reference in support or your application. The reference should be academic and dated no earlier than one year from the start of study on the LLM programme.
  • Evidence of English language proficiency, if required.

If you are currently studying for your degree or you are not in a possession of an English test result you may still apply to the programme. Please note that it is your responsibility to submit the necessary documents.

After you apply

After your application has been submitted you will be able to track its progress through the University’s applicant hub.

Application processing times will vary however the admissions team will endeavour to process your application within four to six weeks of submission. Please note that missing documentation will delay the application process.

You will be informed as soon as possible of the decision taken. Three outcomes are possible:

  • You may be offered a place unconditionally
  • You may be offered a conditional place, which means that you must fulfil certain conditions that will be specified in the offer letter. Where a conditional offer is made, it is your responsibility to inform the College Postgraduate Office when you have fulfilled the requirements set out.
  • Your application may be unsuccessful. If your application has not been successful, you can request feedback from us or refer to our guidance for unsuccessful applicants, which explains some of the common reasons we why we reach this decision.
    View the University’s guidance for unsuccessful applicants
Terms and conditions of admissions
  • The University’s terms and conditions form part of your contract with the University, and you should read them, and our data protection policy, carefully before applying.

    Northampton University admissions terms and conditions