Now in its 10th year, this programme is highly regarded in the international oil and gas legal community. The University of Aberdeen was involved from the start in researching many novel inceptions of policy and regulation as the oil and gas industry evolved globally. The University offers you an incredible depth of expertise from its learning and research in the European energy hub and an opportunity to be at the heart of regulation.

This programme is studied on campus.

Our LLM in Oil and Gas Law with Dissertation will build your expertise and grow your contacts. Upon completion, you will be equipped with the intellectual, critical and practical skills that are fundamental to practicing as a trained professional in this field.

A challenging and rewarding subject to study, you will be immersed in the grounding concepts of current oil and gas law and will gain a broad education required for the legal management of oil & gas exploration and production activity.

Our teaching promotes the kind of contextual thinking that enables you to gain a deeper, more forward-thinking understanding about the industry and how the law works around it. You will have the opportunity to study topics such as State Control of Hydrocarbons, Energy, Innovation and Law and Corporate Environmental Liability.

The programme will provide you with advanced and specialist knowledge in key areas of current oil and gas law. It also helps enhance your key skills of critical analysis and research efficiency. But more than that, we encourage you to think beyond the immediate interest and look towards the long-term benefits and possible threats for the future.

We explore the many different viewpoints and needs of the oil and gas industry, from the state discovering the oil or gas, to the industry experts drilling for it and the ecosystem that needs support and protection.

Through the preparation of a 10,000 word dissertation, you will develop the skills of critical analysis and independent research in law which are relevant to the needs of the legal profession and other areas of employment.

The LLM Oil and Gas Law with Dissertation provides an intellectual and academic programme. If you wish to pursue a more practical programme of equal intellectual rigour but with more practical testing of your skills, we also offer an LLM Oil and Gas Law with Professional Skills.

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:

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 on this programme may not select LS5076 Oil & Gas Law.

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.

View detailed information about this course

State Control of Hydrocarbons (LS501E) - Credits: 30

With only limited exceptions hydrocarbons lie in the ownership or control of states, but are frequently explored for and produced by commercial actors. This course considers the means by which the state controls exploitation of its oil and gas reserves. Following a number of introductory lectures, students will participate in interactive seminars considering topics such as: energy security; licensing; upstream taxation; health, safety and environmental regulation; and international maritime boundaries and joint development. This course is available to students registering for the LLM Oil and Gas Law programmes (Dissertation or Professional Skills).

View detailed information about this course

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.

View detailed information about this course

Semester 2

Optional Courses

Contracting in Hydrocarbon Operations (LS551K) - Credits: 30

A good knowledge and understanding of the commercial purpose and key features of the principal contracts used in the oil and gas industry is essential for an oil and gas lawyer. This course will examine the contracts entered into between the state and the commercial actors involved in the exploration for and production of oil an gas and the contracts entered into between the oil companies themselves, and those between oil and gas companies and the contractors making up the supply chain. The course will be taught by means of a mix of lectures, seminars and interactive workshops.

View detailed information about this course

Corporate Environmental Liability (LS551L) - Credits: 30

Corporate environmental liability is a significant area of concern not only for those corporations engaged in activities which exhibit environmental risk but society as whole. An efficient, effective liability regime must be present to ensure that corporations do not shirk their financial liabilities. The course draws attention to the conflicting goals of corporate law (i.e. the limitation of liability) and environmental law (i.e. ensuring that polluters pay for damage caused) and encourages students to consider and develop solutions to this problem. Whilst the course focuses on EU environmental law, many of the concepts covered are relevant to other jurisdictions.

View detailed information about this course

Legal and Environmental Issues for Unconventional Hydrocarbon (LS551U) - Credits: 30

This course undertakes a study of unconventional sources of petroleum. utilising the seminar method of learning, where practical, real-life examples are used, this course will enable students to explore the key legal and environmental issues related to the development and transport of unconventional hydrocarbons.

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International Investment Arbitration In the Energy Sector (LS5585) - Credits: 30

The complex interaction between investment protection and the sovereign right of states to regulate has been most acute in the energy sector. On the one hand, investors require strong guarantees that states will respect the “rules of the game” that constitute the basis of their investments. On the other, states can be tempted to interfere with foreign energy investments because of their particular strategic and social importance. This course aims to analyse if existing investment disciplines are adapted to the specific regulatory risks that investors face in the energy landscape of the 21st Century.

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Oil and Gas Law: Taxation of Upstream (LS5593) - Credits: 30

The legal framework for exploring for and producing hydrocarbons can be dynamic and complex. A number of layers are further added to the complexity through developing systems for ensuring an appropriate flow of revenue to the state. Many of these systems are extremely complex, and often ‘the devil is in the detail’: it is the precise terms of any legal arrangement that determine the balance of revenues between the state and the investor.

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Downstream Energy Law (LS5594) - Credits: 30

The supply of electricity and natural gas – as network-related industries – presents specific regulatory challenges. These challenges are of particular importance in the context of the liberalisation of these sectors, i.e. the restructuring of these industries from monopolies to competitive markets. Will liberalised electricity and gas markets ensure security and reliability of energy supply? Will consumers be adequately protected against potential abusive behaviour of dominant market players? Is liberalisation compatible with the objectives of decarbonisation and environmental protection? The purpose of this course is to explore the law and policy framework governing energy supply in a liberalised market environment.

View detailed information about this course

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.

View detailed information about this course

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

Learning Methods

  • Individual Projects
  • Lectures
  • Research
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials

Assessment Methods

Assessment is based on a combination of written examination at the end of the relevant semester and one or more course essays. In addition, students must complete a course in research methods and a dissertation on a topic within the specialism. The dissertation is planned and written between March and August each year. Guidance on the writing of a dissertation is given.

Why Study Oil and Gas Law with Dissertation?

There is an increasing demand for talented professionals within the complex and competitive world of energy. Our programme at Aberdeen has several key strengths, including:

  • Our proven academic credentials.
  • The professional distinction and practical experience of our academics.
  • The great success of our alumni and highly employable graduates.
  • Our learning environment is very supportive with a focus on personal development, leading to well-rounded and highly employable graduates.
  • 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 is a growing demand for Energy Lawyers globally.
  • There are over 40 nationalities within the School of Law postgraduate community, therefore you will benefit from a programme with a truly international outlook.

  • Considered one the UK’s elite training grounds for lawyers, our School of Law has occupied a central role in the Aberdeen experience since the University’s opening in 1495 – and there’s no substitute for experience.
  • At Aberdeen, you will develop a well-rounded skillset, gaining the tools you will need to succeed in your job search, as well as the communication and professional skills that employers expect.
  • Learn how to think more critically, communicate more effectively and understand society more thoroughly, instilling the cross-cultural skills that can help you succeed in the legal practice.
  • Learn strategies and techniques that will assist you in commercial decision-making.
  • Benefit from learning from one of the largest and most able teams of oil and gas experts and faculty in any European Law School.
  • Benefit from a range of interactive methods and approaches to learning that will enhance your critical thinking, presentation and interpersonal skills.
  • We combine over 500 years of rich academic heritage with 21st century innovation and dynamism to create and deliver world class programmes - all underpinned by our inclusive and welcoming learning environment.

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 £16,100
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.

Funding Opportunities

The SFC Postgraduate tuition fee scholarship may be available for those classified as Home/EU fee status students for this programe. Visit the scholarship page for more information.

Our Funding Database

View all funding options in our Funding Database.


A career in Law can command status, prestige and often has a good or even large income attached.

Over the years, graduates of the LLM Oil and Gas with Dissertation have successfully gone on to enjoy careers in this dynamic area of law. These range from positions with the oil and gas companies, with international law firms servicing the industry and also with government ministries.

Equally, some of our students choose to use the programme as a step towards their PhD and beyond that, to work in the academic world.

Because the Law touches so many parts of public life, it has become well regarded as a stepping stone, should you perhaps wish to enter politics, business, international finance or banking. More and more non-legal employers are valuing the eminently transferable skills law graduates can bring to industry and other international business organisations. These skills include but are not limited to:

  • Research
  • Critical thinking
  • Problem solving
  • Effective communication
  • Diplomacy

Career Opportunities

  • Energy Barrister
  • Environmental Lawyer
  • Government Official

Industry Links

Our Advisory Board includes individuals from industry, government, research centres, international organisations and leading research centres in Europe. With direct input from these key players and other guest lecturers from international academic and policy-making institutions, our programme stays relevant in a rapidly changing world. Many of your courses are taught by practioners and leading industry experts so you will benefit from practical real life insights into the industry.

Our Experts

Other Experts
Mr Greg Gordon
Professor John Paterson

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.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

School of Law
University of Aberdeen
Taylor Building
AB24 3UB

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