The LLM in International Law is designed for those wishing to specialise in public international law and provides you with the opportunity to study the fundamentals of international law and international relations at an advanced level.
The programme encourages and supports the development of independent thinking and research skills to prepare students for a career in international law or international organisations. Courses will cover the theoretical basis for the development of international law, as well as exploring real-life examples and case studies on how rules and principles are applied in practice.
The vast majority of students will have a first degree in law or international relations. Previous knowledge of international law is not a prerequisite, but those unfamiliar with the subject are advised to take Fundamental Issues in International Law as one of their options.
Why study international law?
International law is an important discipline that provides the framework for cooperation in many fields of international relations, including:
- Peace and security
- Trade and investment
- Environmental protection
- Air travel
- Maritime navigation
A qualification in international law opens up opportunities for jobs in a wide range of sectors, including working for government foreign ministries, international organisations, and non-governmental organisations or consultancies involved in international affairs.
The programme offers a range of specialised courses on issues of contemporary significance that reflect the research interests of members of staff. There is no compulsory course on the programme, which means that you have a large degree of flexibility as to the subjects you may study.
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. Full programme details are available on the University Degree Regulations and Programmes of Study website.
You must take between 80 and 120 credits of the following courses
- Fundamental Issues in International Law (40 credits, full-year course)
This is a course aimed at introducing students to fundamental debates about the nature of international law and the international legal order today, and its relationship to states, markets, conflict, justice and human rights. The course is historical, conceptual, theoretical and legal. It introduces students to key ideas and arguments about where the international legal order is coming from and where it is going, what its building blocks are, and how those components are changing. A theme uniting the course is the extent to which the international legal order is shifting from a classical jus inter gentes to something else: a law of global governance, a global administrative law, a law of rights and regulation, or some combination.
- International Environmental Law (40 credits, full-year course)
The principal aim of this course is to give students an understanding of contemporary developments in international law with regard to the protection of the environment and the sustainable utilisation of natural resources. Particular attention will be paid throughout the course to the processes of international law-making, regulation and institutional management.
- International Investment Law (20 credits)
This course will give an introduction to the major themes and issues of international investment law. The focus of study is the rules contained in the network of more than 3000 bilateral and multilateral treaties on investment protection, as well as the growing number of decisions by arbitral tribunals in this field. Students will analyse the substantive principles of investment law, such as most-favoured nation treatment, fair and equitable treatment, and the rules relating to expropriation. They will also study mechanisms for dispute settlement in the context of investment disputes, particularly investor-state arbitration. Throughout the course, students will consider the extent to which international investment law draws an appropriate balance between investment protection on the one hand and the ability of states to regulate on key public policy issues on the other hand. Students will also look at the challenges of developing a coherent regime of investment rules.
- International Law of the Sea (20 credits)
The aim of the course is to introduce students to the contemporary challenges in the regulation of the world’s seas and oceans. The focus of the course is on the legal framework contained in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and related instruments. Students will be introduced to the various zones of maritime jurisdiction created under the 1982 Convention, including the territorial sea, the exclusive economic zone, the high seas, the continental shelf, and the International Seabed Area, as well as to questions of maritime delimitation. Students will also study the role of international institutions in the development of the law of the sea and how states have tackled new issues that have arisen since the conclusion of the 1982 Convention. Finally, the course will cover the settlement of maritime disputes through the compulsory dispute settlement provisions of the 1982 Convention.
- International Criminal Law (20 credits)
This course focuses on the study of selected foundational aspects of international and transnational criminal law and international co-operation in the administration of justice.
- Inter-state Conflict and Humanitarian Law (20 credits)
The course will comprise the study of conflict in international law. It will be concerned with the law relating to the resort to armed force by states. The law relating to self-defence will be studied. There will also be a focus on humanitarian law, in particular, on the law relating to entitlement to combatant status, on the law regulating the conduct of hostilities between opposing forces and the law on the protection of civilians in armed conflict. In addition, there will be a study of post-conflict issues.
- International Law of the Marine Environment (20 credits)
This course will focus on the environmental provisions of the 1982 Convention on Law of the Sea and related agreements, including the UN Fish Stocks Agreement and IMO treaties, as well as biodiversity-related agreements. Selected topics will address protection of the marine environment, conservation of marine ecosystems and biodiversity, sustainable fishing, preservation of marine mammals, regulation of pollution from ships and land-based sources, freedom of marine scientific research, liability for damage to the marine environment, and the role of the UN, IMO, FAO and CBD in ocean governance.
- International Climate Change Law (20 credits)
This course seeks to give students an in-depth and interdisciplinary insight into the major legal instruments of international climate change law, including the UNFCCC, the Kyoto Protocol and the emerging mechanisms. Students are expected to have a sound knowledge of public international law. A familiarity with basic economics and international relations theory is also helpful but not essential.
- Human Rights and Conflict Resolution (20 credits)
This course will examine the role of human rights in intra-state conflict and in peace processes. In particular it will examine how peace processes and agreements deal with power-sharing arrangements, transitional justice mechanisms, gender equality, and return of refugees. The course will examine the moral, political and practical dilemmas in dealing with these issues, and consider the extent to which human rights law provides useful guidance and requirements, or hinders conflict resolution efforts. The course will also touch on the overlapping requirements of international humanitarian law and international criminal law.
- International Human Rights Law (20 credits)
This course will focus on the international law of human rights, primarily through looking at the U.N. system including Charter and Treaty bodies as well as looking at the links between International human rights law and other related fields such as International Humanitarian law and International Criminal law.
- Human Rights Law in Europe (20 credits)
This course will look at the protection of human rights in Europe through a primary focus of the law of the European Convention on Human Rights. The course will also look at some other human rights instruments of the Council of Europe as well as human rights protection in the EU system.
- International and European Media Law (20 credits)
This course will examine the impact of International and European law on, firstly, the structure of media markets and, secondly, the content of media services. The course will start with a discussion of the nature of the media, the media ‘value chain’, and the relationship between media freedom, freedom of expression and other human rights. It will examine the various international organisations competent in the media field and the regulatory strategies that are being adopted to deal with media convergence and globalisation. In relation to structural matters, consideration will be given to consolidation of media ownership and state funding of the media, in particular public service broadcasting. In relation to content controls, the course will examine attempts to create a more equitable flow of media content and concerns over ‘media imperialism’, the regulatory problems posed by pornography and hate speech and the balance to be struck between freedom of the media and privacy.
You will attain a good understanding of the interplay between domestic and international law in this field, as well as the role of soft law and self or private regulation. They will be encouraged to think about the future role of law and regulation in a rapidly changing media environment.
- WTO Law 1 (20 credits)
The aim of the course is to provide students with an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the multilateral trading system. The course will cover the institutional and the substantive law of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which since its establishment in 1995 has played a central role in, among other things, promoting the two underlying principles of non-discrimination and trade liberalisation. After analysing theoretical and practical arguments for and against free trade and the role of institutions in international trade, the course will then focus on the institutional structure and decision-making process of the WTO, including its unique system of the settlement of trade disputes. Students will then explore the key legal disciplines relating to international trade in goods (GATT) and services (GATS), particularly the principle of non-discrimination and market-access rules. In addition, the course will address the central issue of technical barriers to trade.
- WTO Law 2 (20 credits)
The aim of this course is to allow students with a particular interest in global economic governance to explore a greater diversity of topics than is possible in one term only. It will focus on more specialised – but highly significant – issues of WTO law such as subsidies, trade remedies and anti-dumping. It will also cover the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and the principle of special and differential treatment of developing countries. In addition, however, there is a much greater emphasis in this course (as compared to WTO Law 1) on addressing cross-cutting and contemporary issues of contemporary trade governance. These will vary from year to year, but may include: international economic law after the crisis; the ‘new regionalism’; the relationship between trade, investment and finance; the emergence of new developmentalism and its prospects; and the aesthetics of expertise in international economic governance.
- Theories of the International Legal Order (20 credits)
This course aims to provide students with an introduction to key positions and authors in the theory of international law. At the heart of the course is the question, what is the nature of the obligation created by international law and how do we understand its claim to authority? What are the foundations of the effectiveness if any of international law as a legal order? In attempting to answer these questions, we will examine works by, among others, Grotius, Vattel, Kelsen, Schmitt, Hart, Morgenthau, Koskenniemi and authors writing from within contemporary debates in international relations. Students doing the course will improve their literacy and their conceptual and analytical agility, and be encouraged to think about how these theoretical texts can (or cannot) shed light on specific problems in international law.
- Genocide and the Law (20 credits)
In this course, students will learn about and debate the legal elements of genocide. That includes the protected groups, the particular position of specific genocidal intent and incitement to genocide. Another important aspect is the responsibility of States for genocide as an internationally wrongful act, questions therefore of the attribution of the acts of persons to the State and of the prevention of genocide play an important role here.
Optional course (Everyone 20 credits)
Fundamental Issues in International Law
International Environmental Law
Criminal Justice and Penal Process
Contract Law in Europe
Mental Health and Crime
Law and the Enlightenment
Intellectual Property Law 1: Copyright and Related Rights
Intellectual Property Law 2: Industrial Property
International Investment Law
International Law of the Sea
Law of E-Commerce
The legal challenges of information technologies
International Intellectual Property System
Data Protection and Information Privacy
International Private Law: Jurisdiction and Enforcement of Judgments
Corporate Social Responsibility and the Law
International Commercial Arbitration (one semester)
The Anatomy of Public Law
EU Competition Law
International Criminal Law (one semester)
Inter-state Conflict and Humanitarian Law
The Law of International Trade
International Law of the Marine Environment
Delict and Tort
Comparative and International Trust law
International Climate Change Law
Sexual Offending and the Law
Comparative Corporate Governance
Corporation Law and Economics
Regulation of international Finance: the Law, the Economics, the Politics
Global Crime and Insecurity
Responding to Global Crime and Insecurity
European Labour Law
Communications, networks, and the law
Human Rights and Conflict Resolution
Practice of Corporate Finance and the Law
Practice of International Banking and the Law
|International Human Rights Law
Human Rights Law in Europe
Fundamental Issues in Medical Jurisprudence
Contemporary Issues in Medical Jurisprudence
Reasoning with Precedent
International and European Media Law
Principles of Corporate Finance Law
Family Law in Comparative Perspectives
The Law of Secured Finance
Criminological Research Methods
Advanced Issues in International Economic Law
General Principles of Criminal Law
Current Issues in Criminal Law
Intellectual Property Law, Innovation and Creativity
Biotechnology, Bioethics and Society
Natural Law: An Historical Introduction
Robotics, AI and the Law
European Law Moot Court
Brexit: Withdrawal from the European Union
Fundamentals of Comparative Private Law
Governance of Innovative Medicine
Contemporary Issues in Exploiting Intellectual Property
Advanced Comparative Constitutional Law
Advanced Issues in Human Rights
Fundamentals in Bioethics
Public Health Ethics and Law
Risk and Regulation: Theories and Practices
International Investment Arbitration: Theory and Practice
WTO Law 1
WTO Law 2
Trusts across the Common Law World
Human Rights Clinic
Theories of the International Legal Order
Prisons and Places of Confinement
Genocide and the Law
The Integrity of the EU’s Internal Market
Child Law in Comparative Perspectives
The EU’s Changing Constitution
We require a minimum USA 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in law. We may also consider a USA 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in international relations or another social science subject.
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 USAKVI 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
We recommend that you apply as early as possible; this is particularly important for students holding conditional offers (for example, you may need to allow sufficient time to take an English language test) and for overseas students who may need time to satisfy necessary visa requirements (for further, country-specific information, please consult the website of the Northampton University) and/or to apply for University accommodation.
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