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Durham Law School

LLM International Law and Governance

Course Content


International Law and Governance is a one-year Master’s specialisation within the internationally-recognised Law School at Durham University, which draws upon our rich tradition of research on issues of global concern.

The high-level academic curriculum of the International Law and Governance LL.M specialisation is structured so as to foster a deep understanding of the fundamental debates on the role of law in global governance, and to equip its students in the basic methodologies of the international law discipline.

Students will develop the critical and reflective skills necessary to pursue a career in academia, research, or policy-making, as well as the practical skills necessary for a career working within international institutions, international legal practice, or in service to a national government.

No prior professional experience in the international legal field is required, experienced practitioners seeking further study will also benefit from the programme.

Having completed your taught modules, you will undertake an extended dissertation of 10,000, 15,000 or 20,000 words in length, under the supervision of a member of staff who is an expert in your chosen field of research. Teaching is by a mixture of lectures and smaller, student-led, seminars or tutorial groups. The dissertation is pursued by independent research.

Students will be free to devise a bespoke programme of study that befits their career needs and aspirations, and are welcome to consider some of the optional modules offered on our other LLM programmes. Students will also complete a dissertation based upon their own research interests under the supervision of one of academics within Durham Law School.

The LL.M in International Law and Governance will generally be taught in small groups (of no more than 24 students) in interactive, seminar-style settings, by a dynamic and highly research-active group of scholars with global reach.

Course Structure

The LL.M in International Law and Governance will generally be taught in small groups, with seminar-style teaching by a dynamic and highly research-active group of scholars with global reach. Students will be free to devise a bespoke programme of study that befits their career needs and aspirations and are welcome to consider some of the optional modules offered on our other LLM programmes.

Students must enrol in three compulsory (core) modules. The compulsory modules ensure students secure a grounding in the fundamentals of international law and governance, and acquire and practice key research skills.Optional modules then allow students to explore particular aspects of international law and governance, international and regional institutional law, international dispute settlement, international human rights and international humanitarian law and international economic law amongst others, in greater depth.

Finally, a dissertation must be completed, on a topic chosen by the student in consultation with his or her allotted supervisor.

Core Modules

  • Fundamental Issues in International Legal Governance
  • Applied Research Methods in Law
  • Dissertation (of 10,000, 15,000 or 20,000 words).

Please note: not all optional modules necessarily run every year, and we regularly introduce new modules. The list is purely illustrative of the type of modules which may be offered.

Optional Modules

  • International Dispute Resolution
  • International Humanitarian Law
  • International Peace and Security Law
  • Law of Armed Conflict
  • Global Environmental Law
  • History and Theory in International Law
  • Law of the Sea
  • Law of the WTO
  • International Investment Law
  • Advanced Issues in International Economic Law
  • International Human Rights Law, Development and Commerce
  • International Perspectives on Law and Gender
  • International Criminal Law
  • The European Union as a Global Actor

Learning and Teaching

This programme involves both taught modules and a substantial dissertation component. Taught modules are delivered by a mixture of lectures and seminars. Although most lectures do encourage student participation, they are used primarily to introduce chosen topics, identify relevant concepts, and introduce the student to the main debates and ideas relevant to the chosen topic. They give students a framework of knowledge that students can then develop, and reflect on, through their own reading and study.

Seminars are smaller-sized, student-led classes. Students are expected to carry out reading prior to classes, and are usually set questions or problems to which to apply the knowledge they have developed. Through class discussion, or the presentation of student papers, students are given the opportunity to test and refine their knowledge and understanding, in a relaxed and supportive environment.

The number of contact hours in each module will reflect that module’s credit weighting. 15-credit modules will have, in total, 15 contact hours (of either lectures or seminars); 30-credit modules will have 30 contact hours. Students must accumulate, in total, between 90 and 120 credits of taught modules for the programme (depending upon the length of their dissertation).

In addition to their taught modules, all students must produce a dissertation of between 10,000 and 20,000 words. This is intended to be the product of the student’s own independent research. Each student is allocated a dissertation supervisor, and will have a series of (usually four) one-to-one meetings with their supervisor over the course of the academic year.

In addition, students will benefit from the vibrant research environment of Durham Law School, with a number of events and distinguished external speakers organised by research clusters such as Law and Global Justice, the Human Rights Centre, the Institute for Corporate and Commercial Law and Gender and Law at Durham. What is more, a number of highly active University-wide institutes, such as the Durham Global Policy Institute, the Durham Centre for Borders Research, and the Durham Global Security Institute, offer exciting opportunities for students to interact and engage with world-class academics and distinguished practitioners over the academic year.

Admissions Process:

The programme will demand a very good undergraduate degree in law or in a related discipline. A good degree in the United Kingdom is a 2.1 at 65% or equivalent; this will be the minimum requirement. Students with foreign qualifications will conform to the minimum requirements for admission set by SRAO and the International Office.

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