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International law is an increasingly important field of study and practice. Never before has international law taken such a central position in public debates. The regulation of financial markets, environmental protection, the management of migrations or the prosecution of war criminals are all areas in which international law plays a major role. International law does not only affect the behaviour of states and intergovernmental institutions. Neither is it simply a discipline of diplomats, academics and philosophers. International law today dominates the activity of transnational corporations, NGOs and individuals, from footballers to victims of human rights violations. As a result, governments, international institutions, NGOs, businesses and law firms are increasingly looking for individuals capable of dealing with complex issues of transnational law.
Why Study International Law at Keele?
The Keele Law School has a long tradition of academic expertise in the field of international law. International law has been taught at Keele by world-renowned experts such as Michael Akehurst and Patrick Thornberry. In recent years, the Keele Law School has invested heavily in the area of international law. Students will be taught be dynamic academic staff with a wide range of expertise and research interests.
The Keele LLM in International Law differs from most existing LLMs in several important respects:
Flexibility: the programme is based upon a ‘pathway’ structure, where students tailor their degree according to their needs and preferences. Depending on their choice of electives, students can graduate with any one of the following degrees: LLM in International Law; LLM in International Law and Politics; LLM in International Law and Human Rights; LLM in International Law and the environment; LLM in International Law and Business.
Interdisciplinarity: students can choose from a wide range of electives offered not only within the Law School, but also within the School of Politics, International Relations and Philosophy (SPIRE) and the Keele Management School (KMS).
Skills: students can study modern languages – including key UN languages – as part of their degree, increasing their range of professional skills. Keele currently offers courses in: Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Russian and Spanish.
Professional opportunities: students interested in more hand-on practical experience have the possibility to do work placements as part of their degree, with any one of our partner institutions (UN agencies, international tribunals, non-governmental organisations, law firms, etc. – places are limited).
Keele is located on a beautiful and safe campus – the largest of its kind in the country – and has been consistently highly ranked for student satisfaction.
Aims of the Course
The aims of the LLM in International Law are to:
- Provide students with a practical and theoretical understanding of the role, nature and functioning of international law.
- Encourage students to develop a critical awareness of the social, historical and political contexts in which international law operates.
- Provide a degree of specialisation in areas of international law of professional or intellectual interest to students.
- Develop students’ research skills in the context of supervised research on an agreed topic in public international law and encourage the production of original and creative scholarship.
- Encourage students to develop critical, analytical and problem-solving skills which can be applied to a wide range of legal and non-legal contexts.
- Provide a strong educational foundation that enhances a student’s prospects of professional, commercial or academic employment.
The LLM in International Law is open to graduates with a first or second class honours degree (or foreign equivalent) in Law or a related discipline. Applications are welcome from current legal practitioners or any other person with appropriate professional qualifications and/or experience.
Applicants for whom English is not a first language must provide evidence of a qualification in English language. The minimum score for entry to the LLM is academic IELTS 6.5 (or TOEFL 91). Students who have taken one of the English language qualifications but did not achieve the required grade may be admitted to the programme provided that they study on a pre-sessional English Language course before they start their degree studies.
Keele University currently accepts Tofel iBT tests that have been taken outside of the United Kingdom. All Tofel iBT tests will need to be taken no longer than two years prior to your start date at Keele and must be verifiable with ETS. If you have taken your Tofel iBT test in the UK please contact the admissions team for more information.
For more information about Posgraduate English Language Requirements at Keele, click here.
The programme can be completed in 12 months full-time, or 24 months part-time. The programme is structured as follows:
1. Four compulsory core modules:
Foundations of International Law (sem. 1)
Introduction to International Economic Law (sem. 1)
Advanced International Law (sem. 2)
International Law and Human Rights (sem. 2)
2. 60 Credits of Elective Modules:
Students can choose from a wide range of electives offered by the Law School; the School of Politics, International Relations and Philosophy; and the Keele Management School. See list of electives below.
Students must complete a 15,000-20,000 words dissertation on an international law topic. Students will be assigned a supervisor to guide them in their research and preparation of the dissertation.
List of Electives
Students will take 60 credits from a suite of optional modules offered by the Law School, the School of Politics, International Relations and Philosophy (SPIRE) and the Keele Management School (KMS). Elective modules are grouped in disciplinary pathways. Students are free to choose their electives within a single pathway or across the various pathways. When 30 credits or more are taken within one of the pathways, the degree awarded becomes a ‘pathway LLM’, i.e. an LLM in International Law and Human Rights/The Environment/Politics/Business.
- International Law Electives:
International Environmental Law
Global Business Regulation
International Humanitarian Law
Law of the European Union *
- Business Electives:
Globalisation and International Management
Developments in International Management and Business
Global Business Regulation
Trading in the European Union
Commercial Law *
Company Law *
- Human Rights Electives:
Equality, Discrimination and Minorities
Human Rights and Global Politics
Human Rights in a Global Market
Race and Justice:Civil Rights in the US
Understanding Terrorism and Counter Terrorism
- Environmental Electives:
International Environmental Law
Dimensions of Environmental Politics
Green Political Theory
Climate Change: Governance, Power and society
- Politics Electives:
The Changing International Agenda
The Theory of Global Security
Comparative European Politics
US Foreign Policy
- Modern Languages:
As part of their degree, students will have the option of taking up to 30 credits in Language Studies. Language studies, particularly in the core UN languages, enable students to increase their range of transferable skills. Keele currently offers courses in: Arabic; Mandarin Chinese; French; German; Japanese; Russian; Spanish.
The list of electives may vary from time to time, depending on staff availability and sabbatical arrangements. Modules marked with an asterisk are undergraduate modules. Students may only take 30 credits in such modules.
Teaching and Assessment
The LLM in International Law is taught by a team of talented academics and practitioners. Members of our staff hold degrees from the most prestigious Universities in Europe and North America (Sorbonne, Oxford, Cornell etc.). They have published widely on questions of United Nations law, international trade law, international investment law, dispute settlement, international criminal law, human rights law, international environmental law, or international legal theory. They have acted as legal advisers to governments and international organisations, have worked as human rights field officers, and have been consulted by the House of Lords on burning issues such as human trafficking.
The programme is taught principally through semester-long modules. During each taught module, students take part in lectures, tutor-led seminars and discussions, small group exercises, and case studies. Each module is accompanied by extensive independent study and throughout the course students are encouraged and required to undertake independent reading to both supplement and consolidate the classes and to broaden individual knowledge and understanding of the subject.
The programme is assessed principally, though not exclusively, through written work. Written work may be in the form of research essays, final examinations, blog discussions or reflective portfolios. Through the essays, students demonstrate their understanding of a particular area of international law (or one of the other taught subjects, i.e. human rights/environment/politics/business) as well as their ability for original thinking and high-level written communication skills. Other written assignments such as blogs and reflective portfolios allow students to demonstrate their understanding of the relevance of international law to current international affairs and their ability to respond to alternative arguments or to reflect on their own learning.
The final form of assessment is the dissertation, which is an extended (15,000 – 20,000 words) and in-depth piece of writing that brings together all of the skills that students have learned throughout the programme. As part of the dissertation, students are also required to prepare a dissertation proposal and give an oral presentation (as part of the graduate research workshop).
Modules across the programme will include recommended core and supplemental texts. Costs will vary depending on the particular text [Law textbooks vary between £20-40].
Apart from additional costs for text books, inter-library loans and potential overdue library fines we do not anticipate any additional costs for this post graduate programme.
The LLM in International Law will enable entry into a range of occupations where specialist expertise knowledge is needed. It provides an ideal basis for those seeking employment as international law practitioners in relevant national and international organisations (government agencies, UN bodies, NGOs), multinational corporations, or transnational law firms. Equally, the programme will equip students for further study in the form of a postgraduate research programme, such as a PhD, by providing appropriate research training and an introduction to key thinkers and scholarship.
Daniel Murray - LLM 2013/14
Upon completing both my LLB and LLM at Keele Law School in law and international law, respectively, I completed the LPC and am currently employed as a knowledge assistant at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in Manchester. In September 2016 I will embark on KPMG's graduate programme, specifically in technology consulting. I genuinely believe that my international law LLM in particular, which included a two-week UN internship in Geneva, really gave me the edge in my graduate job applications. I therefore must thank Keele Law School for providing me with such fantastic opportunities. Furthermore, I must also thank the individual tutors, each of whom gave me very personalised support and were always willing to assist if I had a query. Had it not been for both the great opportunities and support provided by Keele Law School, I would not be in the position I am in now. I am proud and honoured to have been a student at Keele Law School.
Aisha Taib - LLM 2013/14
I graduated from Keele with an undergraduate degree in Law in 2013 and applied for LLM which I began in September 2013-14. I currently work as a lawyer with Taib A Taib Advocates in Nairobi, Kenya.
I had been looking at several postgraduate programmes in law and Keele was my first choice because the programme offered exactly what I wanted to study, we were able to study international law and specialise in an area that we were also interested in, the programme offered many options and for me the human rights element was very appealing. Additionally, I loved my time at Keele and was glad to stay on for another year to complete my postgraduate.
I learnt so much in my time there, the classes were small groups and very interactive. The classes were all seminar based so a lot of discussion was encouraged and I found this really helped us in challenging our views and developing them further. The law school were very supportive and the staff are always available to assist with whatever issues you may have. I am very thankful for my experience in Keele.
Emma Allen - LLM 2013-15
I would thoroughly recommend the LLM in International Law. The course content is topical and interesting, the lecturers are helpful and supportive and it was one of the only programmes that I could find that allows students to study a language as part of their degree. So much have I enjoyed my studies that I have decided to continue further and pursue a PhD, for which I have been fortunate enough to secure Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funding.