International Law at Aberdeen offers a range of courses covering both public and private international law. The programme enables students to undertake advanced legal research and writing while focusing on international treaties and case law.

This programme is studied on campus.

Our LLM in International Law gives students an advanced knowledge of general public and private international law, both of which are vital subjects for pursuing a career in the legal profession.

The programme aims to sharpen students’ abilities to critically gauge how international law needs to adapt to a fast-changing world and current international crises. You will have the opportunity to study topics such as International Commercial Arbitration, International Insolvency Law and The Law of International Organisations.

This programme was designed in consultation with a range of external contacts within the field of International Law as well as teaching staff from the University. This additional input ensures that the programme is aligned to industry competencies and needs, which in turn, will improve your career prospects.

The University of Aberdeen is home to a world-class teaching staff, unrivalled in their breadth of knowledge and experience. You will have access to first rate teaching from globally respected staff, such as Programme Director Professor Paul Beaumont, who published extensively in International Law and European Union Law. He has also been a UK or EU delegation member at the Hague Conference since 1996.

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Key Programme Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
12 months or 24 months
Study Mode
Full Time or Part Time
Start Month
September or January

What You'll Study

The information below applies to the 1 year full time / 2 year part time on campus learning LLM programme which runs in September and January. You will find information about other ways to study this programme in the next section on this page.

Semester 1


The information listed below is for September start students. Information for January starts can be found under "Other Ways to Study".

All students must take two LS50xx courses and two LS55xx courses.

Compulsory Courses

All candidates must take the following course:

Critical Legal Thinking and Scholarship (LS501T)

This compulsory course provides students from diverse legal and educational backgrounds with a common understanding of the core research, analytical, and writing skills which would be required to excel in LLM-Taught courses. It commences with a few lectures and progresses to working within smaller groups in a workshop environment and finally to the submission of an individual assignment. It also incorporates elements such as library workshops to provide students with hands-on experience with the resources available for course and dissertation work.

View detailed information about this course

Optional Courses

Four optional courses must be selected. Two should be selected from semester 1 and two from semester 2.

Alternatively, one of your four choices could be selected from another LLM programme (excluding LS501E, and LS551K).

Students can take either LS5083 or LS5085.

International Energy and Environmental Law (LS501C) - Credits: 30

The course deals with the regulation of international activities regarding energy and the environment. The course will consider the international legal framework regarding energy sources, and it will look at the various legal instruments at the global and regional level as well as the key actors that are involved in regulation. It will also examine environmental issues that correspond to the generation and use of energy in the international context and the responses relating to environmental protection of soil, water, air, atmosphere and species.

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Oil and Minerals for Good (LS501D) - Credits: 30

The course examines the relationship between law, energy and natural resources, ethics, governance and development at the national and international levels on the one hand and variable developmental outcomes, particularly the resource curse phenomenon, on the other hand. The course then proceeds to apply advanced academic and experiential knowledge to formulate the fundamentals for overarching legal frameworks that will enable the good exploitation and development of energy and natural resources, thereby producing enduring benefits for all key stakeholders.

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Energy, Innovation and Law (LS501F) - Credits: 30

Students will explore the law and regulation which is relevant to innovation across the energy sector (taken in its widest sense). We will consider intellectual property, UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol, government initiatives, competition, human rights, and oil and gas licensing. We will focus on the impact of these fields on business, reward, sharing, sustainable growth, energy security, and the relationship between private rights, raw materials and the wider public interest. Sessions will be interactive and you need not have studied any of these fields before – although we will move quickly. Assessment is by essay, exam and group presentation.

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The Politics of Human Rights (LS5068) - Credits: 30

The course addresses the political processes by which human rights law is created and sustained (e.g. by exploring the main drivers of the change in human rights norms – like global civil society activism). Classroom discussions look into the ways in which international human rights law shapes controversial issues of international politics (like the problems of international development or humanitarian intervention). Two seminars are dedicated to ‘case studies’ on human rights politics: (1) the practice of human rights activism, and (2) the relevance of human rights for dealing with the social and political tensions generated by the oil industry in Nigeria.

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Private International Law: Jurisdiction in Business Transactions (LS5089) - Credits: 30

We examine the question of jurisdiction in relation to commercial matters involving private international law. We examine the general and special jurisdictional aspects of the Brussels I Regulation and the Recast Brussels I Regulation; choice of court agreements; and, international commercial arbitration.

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Private International Law: Concepts and Institutions (LS5093) - Credits: 30

As a result of globalisation, and, in Europe, of its recent communitarisation, Private International Law has undergone profound changes and has become a subject of increasing prominence and complexity. This course forms a foundation for the Programme LLM in Private International Law and is designed to enable students to gain an in-depth understanding of key concepts of Private International Law, including classification, renvoi, incidental question, public policy and mandatory rules. Students will also acquire insight into the role played by key institutions to develop principles and harmonize rules pertaining to jurisdiction, choice of law and recognition and enforcement of judgments.

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Comparative and International Insolvency Law (LS5095) - Credits: 30

This course explores, through seminar discussion including some group work, the theory and general principles of insolvency law, the domestic insolvency law of selected jurisdictions (currently Scotland, the US and Germany), the theory and general principles of international insolvency law and selected topics in international insolvency law (currently the EU Regulation on Insolvency Proceedings, domestic law provisions regulating international insolvency in selected jurisdictions and the UNCITRAL Model Law on Cross-Border Insolvency). Topics and selected jurisdictions may vary according to topicality.

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World Trade Organisation: Gatt (LS5098) - Credits: 30

The course aims to provide a thorough and critical understanding of fundamental concepts, principles and institutions of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), with emphasis on trade in goods (GATT). The main topics covered include relevant historical and institutional developments, WTO dispute resolution, core principles such as the non-discrimination, most-favour-nation (MFN) and the prohibition of quantitative restrictions on international trade. The security, environment, human rights, labour standards, economic emergencies and free trade areas and customs unions based exceptions and their challenges are also analytically explored. These are studied in light of relevant WTO panel and Appellate Body cases and recommendations.

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International Commercial Arbitration (on Campus) (LS5083) - Credits: 30

The demand for international commercial arbitration has increased significantly over the last 20 years. Empirical surveys conducted consistently report figures that suggest around 60% of businesses prefer arbitration over other dispute resolution methods. This course provides students with a solid understanding of how arbitration works both in principle and in practice. Topics covered include; the arbitration agreement, arbitral jurisdiction, the arbitral tribunal, challenging and enforcing awards. This course is taught together with International Commercial Arbitration in the Asia Pacific.

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International Commercial Arbitration In the Asia Pacific (on Campus) (LS5085) - Credits: 30

The demand for international commercial arbitration has increased significantly over the last 20 years. Empirical surveys consistently report figures that suggest around 60% of businesses prefer arbitration over other dispute resolution methods. This course provides students with a solid understanding of how arbitration works in principle and in practice. Topics covered include; arbitration agreement, arbitral jurisdiction, arbitral tribunal, challenging and enforcing awards. This course is taught together with the International Commercial Arbitration course. This course allows a greater focus on the Asia Pacific region and is particularly relevant to those who foresee themselves working in that part of the world.

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International Law: A Time of Challenges (LS501U) - Credits: 30

The course analyses recent developments in public international law. It first considers the sources of public international law. The question is then asked whether traditional public international law can regulate pressing issues on the international plane. Examples of these problems are: international terrorism, nuclear weapons proliferation, protection of human rights, ethnic conflicts, climate change, and energy security supply. The course encourages the student to think creatively as an international lawyer to resolve contemporary international dilemmas. Teaching will be delivered through discussion based seminars. Assessment is based on the drafting of an essay and an exam.

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Semester 2

Optional Courses

Cultural Property Issues: Law, Art, and Museums (LS55UU) - Credits: 30

Taught by museum and law academics, this course will examine cultural property issues such as treasure trove, looting and repatriation, forgery, sacred and street art, and the derogatory treatment of art. Objects from the University Museum and collections worldwide will be drawn on to illustrate aspects of the course. Museum practice and operational experience will also inform certain aspects. Students will be encouraged to explore and develop their own ideas. Facilitating this, the course will include a programme of case studies and/or issue papers to be presented by students for class discussion.

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Choice of Law for Business (LS551B) - Credits: 30

This LLM course as a whole addresses choice of law for business, and focuses on three areas, namely contractual obligations, non-contractual obligations and corporate law. Students are expected to develop a clear understanding of relevant legislation and judgments, as well as to consider whether the law strikes an appropriate balance between party autonomy and the interests of states in prescribing relevant outcomes. The course is taught by means of seminars and guided independent reading.

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International Humanitarian Law (LS551G) - Credits: 30

The course explores the history, nature and salient features of the principles of ‘the laws and customs of war’, also called IHL; they are enshrined, inter alia, in the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols of 1977. The principles of distinction, humanity, necessity and proportionality as applied to contemporary armed conflicts are examined. The course emphasises the rules and challenges pertaining to civilian immunity, occupation, legal controls on weapons and how IHL is implemented and enforced. It also clarifies the differences/complementarity between IHL and international human rights law and the law on the use of force.

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International Trade and Finance Law (LS5588) - Credits: 30

This course focuses on the difficulties which can arise when the buyer and seller of goods are located in different legal systems: we examine the sources of International Trade Law and the legal issues arising for buyer and seller in an international sale of goods transaction. We consider how to minimise or avoid these difficulties in the following contexts: the Sale of Goods Act 1979 and the CISG; Incoterms and bills of lading; International Documentary Letters of Credit; dispute resolution by litigation and arbitration.

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Private International Law of Family Law (LS5589) - Credits: 30

To learn about the contribution of international instruments to private international law of family law, in particular those developed by the Hague Conference on Private International Law and the European Union. To analyse the Hague Conventions on International Child Abduction (1980), Maintenance (2007) and Intercountry Adoption (1993) and the EU Regulations dealing with child abduction and maintenance. Finally, to consider possible future regulation of international surrogacy arrangements.

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International Human Rights Law (LS5590) - Credits: 30

The course was designed to help students build competence in dealing with the doctrinal issues about international human rights. It involves understanding the place of human rights in public international law, finding one’s way around the foundational human rights documents and the jurisprudence of human rights bodies. The course delivery puts heavy emphasis on classroom discussion on the controversial issues on contemporary human rights law that shape doctrinal development in this field: the justifiability of torture, the limits of freedom of religion, the justiciability of social rights, etc

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Carriage of Goods By Sea (LS5592) - Credits: 30

We look at the issues arising from the use of a ship to transport goods from buyer to seller when each is based in a separate legal system. We examine the contract of affreightment; the relevance of charterparties; the possibilities offered by Bills of Lading and analogous ‘documents’ (whether electronic or not). We consider the law concerning a cargo claim as it may involve the Hague Rules, the Hague-Visby Rules, the Hamburg Rules. We also evaluate the Rotterdam Rules. We consider international commercial dispute resolution of cargo claims by arbitration and litigation.

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International Criminal Law (LS5597) - Credits: 30

The course explores the history, ambit and nature of ICL and the notion of individual criminal responsibility, issues of immunities, superior orders and subordinate responsibility. War crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and the crime of aggression are also critically examined. National and international prosecution of international crimes with emphasis on the Rome Statute and the International Criminal Court (ICC) and questions of international cooperation to suppress international crimes are carefully studied in light of relevant cases such as decisions of the Nuremburg and Tokyo tribunals, the ICC, ICTY and the ICTR (tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda respectively).

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Semester 3

Compulsory Courses

Master of Law Dissertation (LS5904) - Credits: 60

Between May and mid-August students prepare a 10,000 word dissertation on a topic of their choice related to their specialist LLM programme. Students are instructed through the delivery of a preparatory lecture, two supervisory meetings and a two hour dissertation planning workshop in a small group setting. Students are expected to spend considerable time on independent research throughout the course of the dissertation module, including; preparation of dissertation plan, amendment of plan in accordance with supervisory comments, preparation for the dissertation workshop, and, of course, in the final 10,000 word dissertation itself.

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Course Availability

We will endeavour to make all course options available; however, these may be subject to timetabling and other constraints. Please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

How You'll Study

Our International Law programme is taught through traditional lectures and seminars . Working in small groups, you will benefit from close tutor contact. You will also have the opportunity to attend lectures by high-ranking guest speakers from the world of international law. Some of the teaching methods used in the programme include access to industry experts and the University Law library, where you can gain online learning support through our Virtual Learning environment.

Learning Methods

  • Lectures
  • Research
  • Tutorials

Assessment Methods

Assessment: By course work, by written examination, or by a combination of these, as prescribed for each course. The degree of LLM shall not be awarded to a candidate who fails to achieve a CGS grade of D3 or above in the specified dissertation course, irrespective of their performance in other courses: such candidates may, at the discretion of the Examiners, be awarded a Postgraduate Diploma or a Postgraduate Certificate.

Why Study International Law?

  • Aberdeen’s School of Law has played a central role in the Aberdeen experience since the University’s opening in 1495.
  • The University’s Law School is ranked 10th in the UK by The Complete University Guide 2018, out of more than 90 law schools in Britain.
  • In an LLM exit survey we carried out in 2016, 98% of students felt that their LLM had added value to their career prospects and 97% would recommend their course to others.

  • There are over 40 nationalities within the School of Law postgraduate community, so you will benefit from the experiences of international students from all over the world.

Students choose to study Law at Aberdeen because of our reputation for academic excellence, promising career prospects and unrivalled student experience. At Aberdeen, you will:

  • Benefit from the University’s long tradition of research excellence in International Law by receiving unique insights into the field of study from leading world researchers.
  • Be suitably prepared for a career in the legal profession, given that in today’s global context, most lawyers need an international aspect to their practice, which requires specialist expertise in private international law.
  • Be seen as highly valuable by national governments, international organisations, non-governmental organisations and relevant research institutes for lawyers that require your understanding of legal international frameworks.
  • Benefit from an experienced teaching staff with a wide range of international legal and research experience.
  • Be part of an elite band of students who have studied International Law at one of the world’s top universities who offer small class sizes.
  • Study in a city known as the oil capital of Europe, making Aberdeen the perfect place to learn about international law.

The University also offers a range of careers services that are focused on providing you with the tools you will need to fulfil your career potential.

You will be part of a close-knit community and learn from the prior academic experiences of other students.

Entry Requirements


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

English Language Requirements

All students entering the University must provide evidence that they can use English well enough to study effectively at the University of Aberdeen.

Details of our English language entry requirements can be found on our English Language Requirements webpages. This programme requires that you meet the College of Arts and Social Sciences Postgraduate Standard level of English proficiency.

If you have not achieved the required scores, the University of Aberdeen offers pre-sessional English courses. Further details are available on our Language Centre website.

Nationals of some English-speaking countries or those who hold degrees from some English-speaking countries may be exempted from this requirement. Details of countries recognised as English-speaking can be found on our English Language Requirements webpages.

Document Requirements

You will be required to supply the following documentation with your application as proof you meet the entry requirements of this degree programme.

Degree Transcript
a full transcript showing all the subjects you studied and the marks you have achieved in your degree(s) (original & official English translation)
Personal Statement
a detailed personal statement explaining your motivation for this particular programme
a reference letter from your university discussing your academic ability

Fees and Funding

You will be classified as one of the fee categories below.

Tuition fee rates can be found on our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.

Fee information
Fee category Cost
Home / EU / RUK Students £6,000
Tuition Fee for 2017/18 Academic Year
International Students £14,300
Tuition Fee for 2017/18 Academic Year

Additional Fees

  • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trips. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
  • For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including payment plans and our refund policy, please visit our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.

Our Funding Database

View all funding options in our Funding Database.


Completing the LLM programme in International Law at the University of Aberdeen will provide you with the skills and experience to pursue a career in the legal profession. You will develop an advanced understanding of public and private international law, giving you a competitive advantage in the careers marketplace. Studying International Law at Aberdeen will broaden your career opportunities and help you find employment in large influential institutions, international law firms, lobby groups or governmental institutions.

Our Experts

Dr Irène Couzigou has been a lecturer in public international law at the University since 2009. She previously worked as a lecturer at the Universities of Heidelberg and Mannheim in Germany and as an assistant to a professor at the University of Paris II in France.

Professor Paul Beaumont is a lecturer in private international law and has published extensively in International Law and European Union Law. He has been a UK or EU delegation member at the Hague Conference since 1996.

Information About Staff Changes

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. Staff changes will occur from time to time; please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

Aberdeen a Leader of International Law Reform

Professor Beaumont represented the UK in the Hague Conference on Private International Law and the Council of the European Union for 15 years.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

School of Law
University of Aberdeen
Taylor Building
AB24 3UB

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