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).

Study Information

Study Options

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

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

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

Available Programmes of Study

Please note: Students staring their LLM programme in January write their Dissertation project during the Summer semester.

Public International Law

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

Programme Information

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.

Information for part-time students: This route will run over three academic years. Candidates can take up to 60 credit points in Year 1, 120 credit points in Year 2, and 60 credit points in Year 3. LS551T and PD5506 must be taken in Year 1, and LS5904 must be taken in Year 2. LS501U is also compulsory, but may be taken in years 2 or 3. Candidates must take a remaining 90 credit points. At least 60 credit points must be obtained from the courses listed in the optional sections of semester 1 and 2. The remaining credit points may be obtained from any Level 5 30 credit on-campus Law course.


Compulsory Courses

Students must complete Critical Legal Thinking and Scholarship. Please note that all January Start Students must produce their Dissertation Project during the Summer Semester, preparation for which begins in January. They must also take:

  • PD5506: Getting Started at the University of Aberdeen
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 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

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):

  • LS553P: Oceans Law
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 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
International Humanitarian Law (LS551G)

30 Credit Points

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/similarities between IHL and international human rights law and the law on the use of force.

View detailed information about this course
World Trade Organisation: Gatt (LS553V)

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
Semester 2

Semester 2

The compulsory dissertation provides the opportunity to research and explore in more detail a specific legal area of your choice. Please note that all January Start Students must produce their Dissertation Project during the Summer Semester, preparation for which begins in January.


Compulsory Courses
Master of Laws 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

In September, January start students will take 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. The course encourages the participant-student to think creatively as an international lawyer to resolve contemporary international dilemmas.

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
International Trade and Finance Law (LS508A)

30 Credit Points

This course considers issues relating to international trade and finance law and addresses the legal and commercial aspects of export-import transactions. It covers trade risks and risk assessment, the law and practice relating to international sale of goods, carriage of goods and insurance matters, international trade finance, digitalisation of international trade and international commercial dispute resolution.

View detailed information about this course

Programme Fees

Fee information
Fee category Cost
EU / International students £22,400
Tuition Fees for 2022/23 Academic Year
Home / RUK £11,500
Tuition Fees for 2022/23 Academic Year
LLM 12 months or 24 months On Campus Learning Full Time or Part Time September View

Programme Information

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.

Information for part-time students: This route will run over two years minimum. Candidates can take up to 120 credit points in an academic year. LS501T and PD5001 must be taken in Year 1, and LS5904 must be taken in Year 2. Candidates must take LS501U, but it can be taken in year 1 or 2. Candidates must take a remaining 90 credit points. At least 60 credit points must be obtained from
the courses listed in the optional sections of semester 1 and 2. The remaining credit points may be obtained from any Level 5 30 credit on-campus Law course.


Compulsory Courses
  • PD5006: Getting Started at the University of Aberdeen
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 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. The course encourages the participant-student to think creatively as an international lawyer to resolve contemporary international dilemmas.

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 and in the semester 2 optional courses. 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):

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
International Trade and Finance Law (LS508A)

30 Credit Points

This course considers issues relating to international trade and finance law and addresses the legal and commercial aspects of export-import transactions. It covers trade risks and risk assessment, the law and practice relating to international sale of goods, carriage of goods and insurance matters, international trade finance, digitalisation of international trade and international commercial dispute resolution.

View detailed information about this course
Semester 2

Semester 2

Optional Courses
  • LS553P: Oceans Law
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 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
International Humanitarian Law (LS551G)

30 Credit Points

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/similarities between IHL and international human rights law and the law on the use of force.

View detailed information about this course
World Trade Organisation: Gatt (LS553V)

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
Semester 3

Semester 3

Compulsory Courses

The compulsory dissertation provides the opportunity to research and explore in more detail a specific legal area of your choice.

Master of Laws 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

Programme Fees

Fee information
Fee category Cost
EU / International students £22,400
Tuition Fees for 2022/23 Academic Year
Home / RUK £11,500
Tuition Fees for 2022/23 Academic Year

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?

Law was a foundation discipline of the University of Aberdeen in 1495. Today the School of Law is considered one of the best training grounds for lawyers in the UK. 

  • The School of Law is ranked 2nd in the UK for Overall Student Satisfaction (National Student Survey 2021).
  • We are ranked Top 100 in the World for Law by the Times Higher Education World University Subject Ranking 2022.

  • There are over 40 nationalities within the School of Law 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 our Research Seminar Series, which will provide you with unique insights into current legal issues.
  • Have the chance to participate in student academic events organised by Lawyers without Borders.
  • 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 world-class lecturers with world-leading research credentials, e.g. Programme Director Dr Irène Couzigou, who before coming to Aberdeen, researched and taught in the field of Public International Law at renowned universities in France and Germany.
  • Work in small seminar groups, meaning you will have access to teaching staff whenever you need.

The University also has a leading Careers and Employability 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.

What Our Students Say

Andreas Krebs

Andreas Krebs

Andreas Krebs

In a nutshell: My alma mater, the University of Aberdeen, with its long academic tradition, is the perfect place to study International Law and gives a sensational opportunity to soak up the international spirit with students from all over the world.

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

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

TOEFL iBT:

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

PTE Academic:

OVERALL - 62 with: Listening - 59; Reading - 59; Speaking - 59; Writing - 59

Cambridge English B2 First, C1 Advanced or C2 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. If you have not yet completed your current programme of study, then you can still apply and you can provide your Degree Certificate at a later date.

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

Fee Information

Additional Fee Information

  • Fees for individual programmes can be viewed in the Programmes section above.
  • 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 James Carnegie maintenance scholarship for postgraduate students is available with this degree.

Scholarships

Eligible self-funded international Masters students will receive the Aberdeen Global Scholarship. Visit our Funding Database to find out more and see our full range of scholarships.

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.

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.

We are Top 100 in the World for Law

Our Law School is ranked in the Top 100 globally, according to the Times Higher Education World University Subject Rankings 2022.

2nd in the UK for Overall Student Satisfaction

We are ranked 2nd in the UK for Overall Student Satisfaction in Law (National Student Survey 2021)

Our Experts

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

Address
Student Recruitment & Admissions
University of Aberdeen
University Office
Regent Walk
Aberdeen
AB24 3FX