International Law and Strategic Studies at Aberdeen explores how the legal disciplines impact the prevention, control and conduct of conflicts in the modern word.
This programme is studied on campus.
With the combined strength of two schools, this programme explores the use of force by international and transnational actors to achieve political and security objectives. It allows a focused appreciation of the legal considerations that frame many contemporary conflicts. Students will have the opportunity to develop critical thinking and analytic skills through studying courses such as International Law: A Time of Challenges and International Humanitarian Law.
This programme was designed with the assistance of external contacts within the fields of International Law and Strategic Studies. With the combined input from several expert lawyers, you will gain unique insights into both subjects and will advance your understanding of their relationship. Alongside the expert knowledge of our internal staff at the University, the programme aligns 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 before lecturing at Aberdeen, worked at the Universities of Heidelberg and Mannheim in Germany, respectively and as an assistant to a professor at the University of Paris II in France.
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
All candidates must take the following courses:
- Strategic Theory (PI5001) - 30 Credit Points
'Strategic Theory' is the compulsory, cornerstone module for the MSc Strategic Studies degree programme, and also the MSc Strategic Studies & International Law and Strategic Studies & Management degree programmes.
- 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.
- 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.
- Semester 2
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- Global Security Issues (PI5502) - 30 Credit Points
'Global Security Issues' is an elective, second semester module for the MSc Strategic Studies, Strategic Studies & International Law and Strategic Studies & Management degree programmes.
- Semester 3
- 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.
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
Teaching takes place through a combination of lectures and seminars and you will benefit from being taught by world-renowned researchers and teaching staff. The University adopts a flexible approach to learning and staff use a range of teaching methods to ensure that you achieve the highest grade you can.
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 and Strategic Studies?
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 promising career prospects. At Aberdeen, you will:
- Develop essential analytical skills that will enable you to explore the legal and political implications of many contemporary conflicts.
- Develop key critical thinking abilities and will gain a higher appreciation of current world security issues.
- Advance your knowledge through the University’s powerful combination of historic academic credibility and progressive, challenging thinking, which creates a unique learning environment.
- Benefit from the expertise of our world-renowned teaching staff, which will give you the knowledge and skills to prepare you for a career in the law profession.
- Benefit from small class sizes, meaning you will get focused interaction with teaching staff during seminars.
- Have the opportunity to hear from high-ranking guest speakers from the world of international law and international politics, which will provide you with unique insights into the subjects.
- Be equipped to pursue careers that operate on a truly global level.
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.
The information below is provided as a guide only and does not guarantee entry to the University of Aberdeen.
Normally an upper second class Honours degree or equivalent in International Relations, Politics, Economics, Law, Geography, History or cognate disciplines, or relevant professional experience (e.g. work for NGOs, the civil service, the military, the international media). Prospective applicants who are unsure about their eligibility are encouraged to address an informal inquiry to the programme director.
The English Language Requirement for all College of Arts and Social Sciences Masters programmes is an IELTS of 6.5 with 6.0 in the writing and reading (or equivalent TOEFL iBT or PTE).
References are not required in order for applicants to submit an application. They are not usually required in order for a decision to be made but in certain cases applicants may be asked to provide a single academic reference at the request of the academic selector.
Please enter your country to view country-specific entry requirements.
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.
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.
|Home / EU / RUK Students||£6,300|
|Tuition Fees for 2018/19 Academic Year|
|Tuition Fees for 2018/19 Academic Year|
International non-EU Applicants
- 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 Strategic Studies at Aberdeen, you will have a competitive advantage in the job market. This programme is particularly attractive to students seeking a career in government departments related to foreign and security policies, international organisations, international non-governmental organisations, commercial risk assessment companies and the armed forces. The programme will also provide a solid grounding for an academic career and help you prepare for a PhD.
Dr Irène Couzigou joined the University of Aberdeen in September 2009 as a lecturer. She previously worked as a lecturer at the Universities of Heidelberg and Mannheim in Germany, respectively and as an assistant to a professor at the University of Paris II in France.
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.
Law Attracts Known Industry Speakers at Aberdeen
Enjoy and learn from guest speakers from the world of international law and international politics.
Get in Touch
School of Law
University of Aberdeen