Introduction

The programme provides students with a thorough knowledge of public international law while also discussing recent trends and current developments in this area of law. It is designed for candidates who seek the qualification of a general public international lawyer, but with a range of special interests (as in international human rights law, in world trade or in international environmental protection).

This programme is studied on campus.

Our Public International Law programme covers a range of courses that explore international contemporary issues. It analyses topics such as International Law’s role in preventing international terrorism, the protection of human rights and the current legal climate’s change regime. This programme provides students with a thorough knowledge of Public International Law pursuing, or working in a career in governmental institutions, international organisations, international non-governmental organisations, international legal firms, or as international legal consultants.

The University of Aberdeen is renowned for attracting world-class teaching staff, unrivalled in their breadth of knowledge and experience in their specialist subjects. You will have access to first rate teaching from highly respected staff. Most of them have an international profile, such as Programme Director Dr Irène Couzigou, who has previously taught at universities in Paris, in France as well as in Heidelberg and Mannheim in Germany. She has also published extensively in several languages.

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Key Programme Information

At a Glance

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

Study Options

LLM 12 months or 24 months On Campus Learning Full Time or Part Time January
Semester 1

Semester 1

Note: a maximum of 60 credit points may be taken at an approved overseas institution subject to the approval of the Head of School and Postgraduate Officer.

Compulsory Courses

Critical Legal Thinking and Scholarship (LS551T)

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

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.

View detailed information about this course

Optional Courses

In addition to the above, candidates must take courses to the value of 90 credit points. At least 60 credit points must be obtained from the courses listed below. The remaining credit points may be obtained from any Level 5 30 credit on campus Law courses (excluding LS501K, LS501E and LS551K and any of the Professional Skills courses, LS5905, LS5906, LS5907, LS5908 and LS5909):

International Energy and Environmental Law (LS501C) - 30 Credit Points

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.

View detailed information about this course

The Politics of Human Rights (LS5068) - 30 Credit Points

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.

View detailed information about this course

World Trade Organisation: Gatt (LS5098) - 30 Credit Points

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.

View detailed information about this course

International Criminal Law (LS502N) - 30 Credit Points

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).

View detailed information about this course

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.

View detailed information about this course

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.

View detailed information about this course

International Trade and Finance Law (LS5588) - 30 Credit Points

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.

View detailed information about this course

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

View detailed information about this course

Semester 2

Semester 2

Semester 2 for January starts is the summer period during which time students write their dissertation.

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.

View detailed information about this course

Semester 3

Semester 3

For January starts semester 3 is the September semester with courses starting with LS50. There is a compulsory course LS501U International Law: A Time of Challenges.

Compulsory Courses

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.

View detailed information about this course

Optional Courses

International Energy and Environmental Law (LS501C) - 30 Credit Points

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.

View detailed information about this course

The Politics of Human Rights (LS5068) - 30 Credit Points

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.

View detailed information about this course

World Trade Organisation: Gatt (LS5098) - 30 Credit Points

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.

View detailed information about this course

International Criminal Law (LS502N) - 30 Credit Points

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).

View detailed information about this course

LLM 12 months or 24 months On Campus Learning Full Time or Part Time September
Semester 1

Semester 1

Note: a maximum of 60 credit points may be taken at an approved overseas institution subject to the approval of the Head of School and Postgraduate Officer.

Compulsory Courses

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

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.

View detailed information about this course

Optional Courses

In addition to the above, candidates must take courses to the value of 90 credit points. At least 60 credit points must be obtained from the courses listed below. The remaining credit points may be obtained from any Level 5 30 credit on campus Law courses (excluding LS501K, LS501E and LS551K and any of the Professional Skills courses, LS5905, LS5906, LS5907, LS5908 and LS5909):

International Energy and Environmental Law (LS501C) - 30 Credit Points

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.

View detailed information about this course

The Politics of Human Rights (LS5068) - 30 Credit Points

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.

View detailed information about this course

World Trade Organisation: Gatt (LS5098) - 30 Credit Points

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.

View detailed information about this course

International Criminal Law (LS502N) - 30 Credit Points

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).

View detailed information about this course

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.

View detailed information about this course

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.

View detailed information about this course

International Trade and Finance Law (LS5588) - 30 Credit Points

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.

View detailed information about this course

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

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

At the Law School, we employ a range of teaching methods to ensure you learn in a way that suits your learning style. We pride ourselves on producing highly skilled graduates for the legal profession. Teaching methods include lectures and seminars, with web-based learning being particularly important. You will also benefit from hearing from guest speakers from the world of Public International Law. You will study a research skills course at the start of your studies and draft a research work.

Learning Methods

  • Lectures
  • Research
  • Seminars
  • 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 CAS mark of 9 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 Public International Law?

Aberdeen’s School of Law is considered one of the best training grounds for lawyers in the UK. It has played a pivotal role in the University’s expansive history since its opening in 1495.

  • The University’s Law School is currently ranked 10th in the UK ( The Complete University Guide 2018) out of more than 90 law schools.
  • 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 the University of Aberdeen because of our reputation for academic excellence and promising career prospects. At Aberdeen, you will:

  • Benefit from its wide community of international staff and students which provides a stimulating learning environment, ideal for the study of Public International Law.
  • Benefit from the opportunity to attend research seminars and guest lectures from the Law School, which will provide you with unique insights into current legal issues.
  • Have the chance to attend academicevents organised by the Centre for Sustainable International Development and the Centre for Global Security and Governance.
  • Have the opportunity to develop a professional network among many other international students, some of them being already engaged in an international career.
  • Benefit from an unrivalled knowledge in Public International Law, being taught by a world-class faculty of lecturers with world-leading research credentials.
  • Work in small seminar groups, meaning you will have access to teaching staff whenever you need.

The University also has a leading Law careers service that organises events focused on providing you with the additional skills needed to make the most of your career potential.

With the University’s diverse student cohort, you will be part of a close-knit community and learn from the prior academic experiences of other students.

Entry Requirements

Qualifications

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.

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.

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
Reference
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.

LLM 12 months or 24 months On Campus Learning Full Time or Part Time January

Fee Information

Fee information
Fee category Cost
Home / EU / RUK Students £6,000
Tuition Fee for 2017/18 Academic Year
Home / EU / RUK Students £6,300
Tuition Fees for 2018/19 Academic Year
International Students £14,300
Tuition Fee for 2017/18 Academic Year
International Students £15,000
Tuition Fees for 2018/19 Academic Year
LLM 12 months or 24 months On Campus Learning Full Time or Part Time September

Fee Information

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.

Careers

Public International Law is a subject of global importance. Studying the discipline at Aberdeen will provide you with the skills and experience you will need to work in an international legal profession. You will develop an advanced understanding of Public International Law that will give you a competitive advantage in the jobs market. Some high profile career opportunities available to you could include working with the UN, NATO, The World Bank, a NGO or a global law firm.

Our Experts

Programme Coordinator
Dr Irène Couzigou

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.

One of the Best Places in the World

The University is one of the best places in the world to study this subject with a world-class faculty of lecturers and research.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

Address
School of Law
University of Aberdeen
Taylor Building
Aberdeen
AB24 3UB