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Get to grips with the theoretical principles of international investment law – and the challenges it presents in practice.

Learn from experienced international lawyers at a top 10 UK law school and specialists practising in the field of international trade law.

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


Under international public law, international investment and trade agreements are the instruments that offer the legal ground for foreign investments. On one hand, states have the possibility to set out the conditions in which they expect to host the investment. On the other, foreign investors seeking to invest in another country rely on the substantive protections offered by these agreements.

Globalisation and recent world history have thrown a spotlight on the issues, challenges and complexities of these ‘rules of the game’. For example, the obligation of parties to provide ‘fair and equitable treatment’ has been interpreted differently by countries and governments.

This course offers significant professional advantage to you as a practising lawyer advising clients on international investment, or working in a related capacity in a government department or a multinational private company. 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.

You’ll examine the substantive legal issues and how disputes arising in international investment agreements may be resolved. You’ll look at examples including Argentina following the financial crisis, actions of the US against Mexico and Canada in the North American Trade Agreement NAFTA, the workings of the European Energy Charter, important developments in Asia, and emerging practice in Africa.

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 experts working in practice in the field of international trade law.

You can study this programme standalone, or use it as a taster to work towards our full online Masters programme in International Trade Law or another from our popular and topical portfolio across the spectrum of 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 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.

You can study this credit-bearing online short course standalone, or use these credits to continue your professional development, progressing to a full online Masters programme in our popular and topical portfolio across the spectrum of law.

What you'll study

This is a highly dynamic and interactive course, which is divided into 12 topics, each focusing on a substantive protection in an international investment agreement.

We will be reviewing and analysing international investment practice globally, to gain understanding of the notions of each substantive protection in real treaty practice - including differing interpretations of fair and equitable treatment, expropriation, most favoured nation and national treatment.

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, tutorials, projects and reading list. This is a highly interactive course and you’ll enjoy plenty of contact 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 40%, 30% and 30% of your total mark. These will involve you examining case studies and government documents from different countries and arriving at your own judgement on ‘equitable/unequitable treatment’.

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.