International Law and International Relations at Aberdeen provides an advanced understanding of both disciplines and how their interaction impacts upon international politics.

This programme is studied on campus.

This innovative programme combines courses in the theory and practice of International Law, International Relations and Human Security. You will gain a unique interdisciplinary perspective on a range of contemporary issues related to the transformed nature of global governance. Throughout this programme, you will have the opportunity to study courses such as International Law: A Time of Challenge, The Use of Force in International Law and Latin America: Security Conditions and Challenges.

This programme was designed with the assistance of external contacts who work specifically in the fields of International Law and International Relations. With the combined input from several expert lawyers, you will gain unique insights into both subjects and will advance your understanding of their relationship. Coupled with the knowledge of our internal staff at the University, the programme offers a range of courses that are aligned with the competencies required for today’s international job market.

The University of Aberdeen has a reputation for attracting world-class teaching staff with unrivalled experience and knowledge in their specialist subjects. You will have access to first rate teaching from globally respected staff, such as Programme Director Dr Irène Couzigou, who researches in the field of Public International Law. Her publications include those that deal with the Use of Force in International Law, the Law of International Organisations, and International Human Rights Law.

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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

What You'll Study

Semester 1

Semester 1

Compulsory Courses

All candidates must take the following courses:

Theories and Concepts in International Relations (IR5001) - 30 Credit Points

This course lays the foundations for, explores, and critically analyses the main theoretical paradigms and debates in International Relations, and engages with the complexity of debates on concepts in IR. The theoretical topics to be covered include debates on the international system, cooperation, world order, conflict, development, representation and identity. Students will also be introduced to some of the main debates in epistemology and methodology that apply to the discipline.

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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.

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

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

Semester 2

Optional Courses

Two courses must be selected from the list below. At least one LS module and at least one PI or IR module should be taken.

The use of Force in International Law (LS5549) - 30 Credit Points

The course analyses how international law regulates the use of armed forces between States. It is of interest to students who want to understand the legal considerations which frame contemporary conflicts. The course will study the fundamental principle of the prohibition on the use of inter-State force. It will examine the current exceptions to this principle, and how States try to justify the use of force. Consequently, the course will study the most recent recourses to force on the international plane, in particular in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Ukraine. Teaching will be delivered mainly through discussion based seminars.

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International Human Rights Law (LS5590) - 30 Credit Points

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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International Humanitarian Law (LS551G) - 30 Credit Points

The course explores the history, nature and salient features of the the laws and customs of war, also called international humanitarian law (IHL). The laws 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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Latin America: Security Conditions and Challenges (IR5508) - 30 Credit Points

This course examines the current security conditions and challenges which face contemporary Latin America. This includes narco-terrorism, debt, populism and neopopulism amongst other things. The region’s different sub regions will all be examined with the international, domestic, cultural and ideological factors for the current security conditions being considered.

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Dimensions of Globalization (SO5512) - 30 Credit Points

This interdisciplinary course focuses on substantive dimensions of globalization by considering recent changes occurring in the economic, political, social, and cultural realms of society. These themes are analyzed by considering recent empirical studies, which seek to clarify our theoretical understanding of globalization through advanced social scientific research. The substantive themes covered include global capitalism, the global division of labour, global governance, the changing role of the nation‐state, transnational social change, and cultural homogenization and heterogenization. Interconnections between these aspects of globalization are highlighted.

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Sex, Gender, Violence: Critical Approaches (SO5519) - 30 Credit Points

This course investigates the ways people think about, understand, and respond to violence. How do we know what counts as violence or a violence act? Why does legislation against violence often seem inadequate, perhaps especially in the case of gendered and sexual violence?

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Semester 3

Semester 3

Compulsory Courses

Master of Law Dissertation (LS5904) - 60 Credit Points

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

As well as attending lectures and seminars by our teaching staff, you will also benefit from hearing from guest speakers from the world of international law and international relations. You will have the opportunity to study a research skills course at the start of your studies.

Learning Methods

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Workshops

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 Postgraduate Certificate.

Why Study International Law and International Relations?

Ever since the University’s opening in 1495, the Law School has played a pivotal role in Aberdeen’s history - and there’s no substitute for experience.

  • Our Law School is ranked 10th in the UK, out of more than 90 law schools (The Complete University Guide 2018).
  • 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 and unrivalled student experience. At Aberdeen, you will:

  • Develop key critical thinking and analysis skills that will help you gain a deeper understanding of contemporary legal and political issues.
  • Benefit from the twin strengths of our School of Law and School of Social Sciences, which will help you to quickly develop your knowledge and understanding of global issues.
  • Have the opportunity to attend the research seminars organised by the Law School and the School of Social Science.
  • Be able to attend events organised by the Centre for Sustainable International Development and the Centre for Global Security and Governance, which will provide you with valuable insights into both subjects.
  • Have the opportunity to study at a University with a reputation for academic rigour and excellent teaching, while adopting a modern attitude towards critical analysis.
  • Study in a unique environment that encourages you to challenge thinking in order to gain and retain greater knowledge.
  • Be part of a wide community of international staff and students, located in a cosmopolitan and friendly Scottish city.

You will be part of a vibrant, close-knit community of students that provides a personal and friendly atmosphere where staff have the opportunity to know students by name and can closely monitor progress.

Entry Requirements


The information below is provided as a guide only and does not guarantee entry to the University of Aberdeen.

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.

Due to the nature and structure of this programme, spaces are limited and only a September start is offered. Prospective students interested in this programme should submit their completed application by the end of May each year. All applications will be reviewed by the programme admissions panel. Decisions will be notified by the end of July. Unsuccessful applicants may, at the discretion of the admissions panel, be offered a place on the LLM International Commercial Law with Dissertation instead.

Please enter your country to view country-specific entry requirements.

English Language Requirements

To study for a Postgraduate Taught degree at the University of Aberdeen it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. The minimum requirements for this degree are as follows:

IELTS Academic:

OVERALL - 6.5 with: Listening - 5.5; Reading - 6.0; Speaking - 5.5; Writing - 6.0


OVERALL - 90 with: Listening - 17; Reading - 21; Speaking - 20; Writing - 21

PTE Academic:

OVERALL - 62 with: Listening - 51; Reading - 54; Speaking - 51; Writing - 54

Cambridge English Advanced & Proficiency:

OVERALL - 176 with: Listening - 162; Reading - 169; Speaking - 162; Writing - 169

Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

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. If you have been out of education for a long time you may wish to use your current or most recent employer, or another professional person

Fees and Funding

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

Fee information
Fee category Cost
Home / EU / RUK Students £6,300
Tuition Fees for 2018/19 Academic Year
International Students £15,000
Tuition Fees for 2018/19 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.


By studying International Law and International Relations at Aberdeen, you will have the opportunity to pursue a range of careers in the legal profession. The skills that you gain will give you a competitive advantage in careers in government departments, international organisations and international non-governmental organisations. The programme may also serve to engage in an academic career and work towards a PhD.

Our Experts

Dr Irène Couzigou researches in the field of Public International Law. Her book The Evolution of the International Status of Germany since 1945 analyses the status of the German State in Public International Law. Her other publications deal with the Use of Force in International Law, the Law of International Organisations, and International Human Rights Law.

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.

Study Two Inseperable Subjects

Jointly coordinated through the School of Law and the School of Social Sciences.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

School of Law
University of Aberdeen
Taylor Building
AB24 3UB