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An online short course tackling the topical issue of world trade in a changing landscape including the UK’s exit from the European Union.

With Brexit requiring the UK to strike deals outside EU trade agreements opportunities are great for skilled lawyers specialising in international trade governed by the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

A flexible, distance-learning route for legal professionals in the UK and WTO member states across the world to boost their careers in a fast-moving global field.


Economic globalisation and recent world events, including Brexit, have thrown a spotlight on the issues, challenges and complexities of international trade. The UK’s impending exit from the EU has major implications for international trade, as the UK seeks new agreements with countries across the world.

However, the UK’s 2016 referendum on EU membership revealed huge gaps in experience and expertise at government and civil service level in negotiating agreements direct with other countries – opening huge career opportunities for legal specialists in this field.

As the global organisation set up to create and police the legal ground rules for global trade among member nations and provide a system for international commerce, the WTO will be key to maintaining and growing the economy of the UK, and of all its member states, in years to come.

You’ll gain a thorough overview of the WTO, why it exists and how came about, its structure and principles including non-discrimination, tariffs, quantitative prohibitions, subsidies, and transparency. The course also considers the WTO dispute settlement. 

We have a proven track record in practical training and research expertise in international commercial law, including trade rules and the development of professional skills. This course combines the teaching and research strength of our long-established law school and the calibre of our first-class highly-experienced academic team with our growing international profile and activity.

The opportunity to study online, at any location, and to fit your learning around your work and personal commitments makes this short course ideal not only for lawyers and other interested professionals in the UK – but also for their counterparts in WTO member states across the world where countries will be looking to take advantage of new opportunities to trade with the UK.

Why Aberdeen for this course?

The combination of track record, strong international outlook, breadth and depth of expertise in teaching, research, and in influencing public policy, makes Aberdeen the obvious provider of first-class education in all areas of international and national law.

Our international School of Law is one the UK's elite training grounds for lawyers, ranked 5th in the UK for Law (The Complete University Guide and The Time Good University Guide 2019), joint 1st for Graduate Prospects (The Complete University Guide 2019) and highly rated for teaching, research and student care with 94% student satisfaction rating (NSS 2018).

Previous graduates have gone on to enjoy highly successful careers. These range from senior positions in legal firms, in industry, NGOs, and with government organisations across the world.

As an online student you’ll enjoy access to the wonderful online resources of our award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library and Law Library, with a first-class collection of reference works in law and related subjects.

You can study this course as a standalone, online, credit-bearing short course, or as a taster to continue your professional development with a PgCert, PgDip, and progress to a full online Masters programme in our popular and topical portfolio across the spectrum of law.

As a member of the Aberdeen community you will gain all the benefits of over 500 years of rich academic heritage combined with 21st century innovation and dynamism which today creates and delivers sought-after, flexible, globally-focused, world class programmes.

What you'll study

As the global organisation set up to create the legal ground rules for global trade among member nations and provide a system for international commerce, the World Trade Organisation will be key to maintaining and growing the world economy, including the UK, in years to come.

You’ll gain a thorough overview of the WTO, why it exists, how it is structured and operates, and its history to date. This understanding is increasingly important in the wake of Brexit as WTO rules are key to international commerce, and by association the health of the world economy.

A major focus will be its key foundational principles. For example, you’ll examine the WTO principle of non-discrimination and its two major components: the ‘most favoured nation’ (MFN) rule which forbids a country from granting special favours to certain countries, and the ‘national treatment’ policy which means that, for all members, imported goods must be treated no less favourably than those produced domestically. You’ll also study the WTO system of resolving disputes, regarded as the central pillar of the multilateral international trading system.

You’ll learn from highly experienced lawyers at a UK top-ten School of Law, and with industry input, as you grow your own expertise, contacts and career prospects and become equipped with the intellectual, critical and practical knowledge and skills fundamental to practising in this demanding and highly-technical field.

How you'll study

This online, 12-week distance-learning short course offers all the flexibility and convenience to study when, where and how you choose, and to fit your learning around your location, employment and personal commitments.

Our online courses are delivered through our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) as self-contained units of learning taught and assessed to the same quality as our degree programmes, and developed specifically for an online audience using a range of learning materials and assessment activities.

We aim to create an online classroom experience and student community which enables you to enjoy the same learning experience as students on our full degree programmes, including access to a suite of learning resources and support.

You’ll be guided through your programme with podcasts of lectures, videos, slides and reading lists, and regular quizzes will keep an eye on your progress.

Our first-class support structure will ensure that you are not alone in your study. Contact with your course tutors may by email, Skype or Facetime, and you can use social media and discussion boards to find and talk to your fellow students wherever they are.

Wherever you are in the world, as you enjoy the career advantage of this course combined with the convenience of online distance study, you will still feel part of our very special Aberdeen learning community.


Our online courses are delivered through an online Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) developed specifically for an online audience using a range of learning materials and assessment activities.

Regular online quizzes will check your progress, and you’ll be assessed by three discussion boards, where you will be given a topic and asked to contribute your thoughts and to develop discussion with other members of your class.

Entry Requirements

Normally, a 2.1 honours degree (or equivalent) in Law will be required to be accepted onto this course. Relevant practical experience in a related field will also be beneficial.

All students entering the University, including online courses, must provide evidence that they can use English well enough to study our programmes effectively. Details of our English language entry requirements can be found on our English Language Requirements webpages. For details of our pre-sessional English courses see our Language Centre website.