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Get to grips with procedural issues in investor-state arbitration when disputes occur in international investment agreements.

Learn from highly-qualified lawyers at a top UK law school, and experts practising in the fast-moving and topical field of international arbitration.

Take advantage of growing career opportunities for lawyers working in private practice, corporate sector or government organisations anywhere in the world – with all the advantages of distance learning wherever you are located.


Economic globalisation and recent world events, including Brexit, have thrown a spotlight on the issues, challenges and complexities of international trade. This course focuses on the processes involved when a private or corporate investor goes into dispute with a country hosting the investment.

Under international law, international investment agreements are the instruments that offer the legal ground for foreign investments. They enable states to set out the conditions in which they expect to host the investment, while the foreign investor relies on the substantive protections offered in these international investment agreements.

This course offers significant career advantage to you as a practising lawyer advising clients on international deals, or working in a government department or multinational companies across the world. With Brexit requiring the UK to strike deals outside EU trade agreements, opportunities are great for skilled lawyers specialising in all aspects of international trade law.

Arbitration is growing in popularity as a dispute resolution method across a variety of sectors, and internationally, and is now the preferred means of resolving, for example, an investment dispute between companies based in different legal jurisdictions through an independent tribunal.

Aberdeen is the obvious provider of this course, with a proven track record in theory and practical training in many aspects of international law and dispute resolution. You’ll be taught by lawyers with extensive international experience and practitioners working in the field of international trade law and arbitration.

Should you wish to progress your professional development, we offer a short online course on International Investment Law and you can use your credits to progress to full online Masters in Dispute Resolution or International Trade Law.

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 national and international 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).

We are highly rated for teaching, research and student care, and score 93% student satisfaction (National Student Survey 2017).

We boast one of the largest and most internationally-experienced teams of legal experts in any European law school. You will also have access to the wonderful online resources of the award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library and the Law Library, with a first-class collection of reference works in law and related subjects.

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

The topic of dispute resolution is a particular strength at Aberdeen, with academics highly experienced in teaching and researching this subject. We teach this at undergraduate, professional postgraduate and Masters levels, with the on-campus Masters programme in Professional Arbitration Skills accredited by leading professional body, the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb).

What you'll study

This course focuses on the procedural issues arising from disputes under international investment agreements, and in particular the process of investor-state arbitration.

Among the topics you’ll cover are:

  • The historical evolution of international investment agreements
  • The unique features of commercial and investment arbitration
  • The different contractual claims and investment claims
  • The process itself, looking at provisional measures, the intervention of non-disputing third parties (role of amicus curiae,) and the enforcement of investment awards.

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.

We expect you to spend 10-15 hours a week on your course. You’ll be guided through your programme with video lectures, weekly tutorials, projects and reading list. This is a highly interactive course and you’ll enjoy plenty of interaction with your tutors, and with your virtual classmates on discussion boards.

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 family and learning community.


You’ll have three assignments through your discussion board, and they will contribute 34%, 33% and 33% respectively of your final grade.

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.