Human rights questions have been central to the development of international law during the era following the Second World War. More recently, human rights have dominated developments in national constitutional law. The LLM in International Human Rights Law is broad in scope, offering the opportunity for students to gain a critical understanding of the history and theoretical underpinnings of international human rights, international and regional human rights systems, and the practical application of human rights norms in a range of contexts.
In Semester 1 the compulsory module in International Law provides a general introduction to the theoretical basis and main aspects of public international law of which international human rights law is a very important subcategory. In Semester 2, in addition to the compulsory module in International Human Rights Law, you are able to choose from a wide range of specialist topics, including international criminal law, international humanitarian law, corporate liability for human rights violations and human rights issues in international trade.
You will benefit from a range of teaching and learning strategies, from case studies to interactive seminars, presentations and moots.
Your fellow students are drawn from countries around the world giving you the opportunity to enjoy a truly international exchange of ideas.
With your future career in mind, particular emphasis is placed on skills training with opportunities provided to practice legal reasoning skills both orally and in writing.
Special support is provided for international students, particularly those whose first language is not English, to ensure that they find their feet quickly and are able to participate fully.
Consistently high ratings in the university guides and marks of excellence awarded by government teaching quality assessors.
A wide diversity of teaching methods are employed throughout the LLM courses in order to provide a high-quality learning experience. These include lectures, seminar discussions, individual and small group tutorials, case studies, and group and individual presentations. Particular emphasis is placed on skills training, with opportunities provided to acquire and practise legal reasoning as well as research and IT skills. Assessment methods include coursework and individual and group presentations.
Graduates from the LLM succeed across an impressive range of careers from policy makers and human rights activists through to high-flying diplomats and commercial lawyers.
LLM staff can advise you and direct you to possible careers and employers depending on your particular needs and ambitions. Depending on your existing legal qualifications, you may wish to take additional legal training at the Oxford Institute of Legal Practice.
Pursuing an academic career in law
Research is fundamental to the Law School and is one of the reasons we performed so well in the latest RAE. Your own interests will be reflected in the modules you choose and many students feel moved to continue their academic studies and become specialists themselves. Several former LLM students have chosen to become researchers, publishing and lecturing on their work and graduating to do a PhD.
UK/EU £5,800; International £11,600
Full-time: LLM: 12 months, PGDip: 9 months
Part-time: LLM: 24 months, PGDip: 18 months
Students studying for the LLM/PG Dip in International Human Rights Law are required to complete the double compulsory module in International Law (40 credits) and the single compulsory module in Advanced Legal Research Methods (20 credits) during the first semester. In the second semester you must take the compulsory module in International Human Rights Law (20 credits).
The principal aim of the compulsory module in international law is to introduce students to the international legal system and the general rules that govern the international community, set in the context of a rapidly globalising world. The module introduces the philosophical underpinnings of international law, including the nature of the international legal system and the context within which it operates, and examines the sources of international law and the key doctrines and principles. Areas of particular importance in state practice are also examined, including human rights, the use of force and international humanitarian law, environmental protection and international economic law.
International Human Rights Law
This module examines the protection of human rights under international law. It considers the protection afforded under the United Nations system; the European system, focusing on the European Convention on Human Rights; the Inter-American system; and the African system. The major international instruments are critically assessed and the effectiveness of the protection provided is questioned. Special attention is given to a range of topics which are of current interest, including issues relating to globalisation, corporate liability for human rights violations and the protection of social and economic rights.
Advanced Legal Research Methods
This module, which is compulsory for all LLM students, provides an opportunity for students to develop core skills in legal research. Expert guidance is provided in locating and using international law sources especially electronic sources. Particular attention is also paid to analysis of legal texts, reasoning skills, presenting research, both orally and in writing and appropriate referencing. The Oxford Brookes Library has an expanding collection of international law materials and provides access to a wide range of online databases.
In Semester 2 you can choose any two of the following options (20 credits each, totalling 40 master's-level credits):*
International Criminal Law
This module focuses on the development of international criminal law following the establishment of the International Criminal Court. The remit of the court is examined as well as the specific crimes over which the ICC has jurisdiction, namely genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Individual and command responsibility is considered including the question of immunity, particularly for heads of state and former heads of state as well as the issue of universal jurisdiction.
International Humanitarian Law
International humanitarian law is the branch of international law that deals with armed conflict. The focus of this module is the principles relating to the protection of civilians during armed conflict which derive principally from the 1949 Geneva Conventions. It examines the rationale behind this body of law, the function in this field of both governmental and non-governmental agencies and the enforcement of the international rules.
International Refugees and Migrants
This module looks at the ways that nationality is conceived and realised in a post-colonial age of nation-states, in the light of the commitment in international law to nationality as a human right. It also considers how law deals with the movement of persons and peoples in terms of national identity and conferment of formal national membership, and how these issues affect current regional groupings and are affected by them. The issues will be examined with reference to the provisions of international law, the rules and practice of regions (e.g. Europe) and case studies of individual countries.
European Union Law
This module provides an introduction to the constitutional and administrative law of the European Union. It begins with an examination of the political development and legal nature of the European Union and the operation of its institutions. Discussion then focuses on the nature of community law, its relationship with national law and the role of the European Court of Justice. Finally, the administrative law of the European Union is critically examined.
International Environmental Law
This module provides an in-depth understanding of issues relating to international environmental law and global policies. The module begins by examining the role of international law in dealing with environmental issues and the sources of international environmental law. Key environmental issues are examined, not just to understand the specific area of regulation but also to place it in the context of international law and policy and the wider challenges to globalised environmental protection. There is also an opportunity to examine the tensions between environmental law and policy and other value systems such as human rights and international trade.
International Labour Law
This module focuses on the work of the International Labour Organisation (the ILO). It starts by considering the history and workings of the ILO and the various theoretical issues raised by the search for universal and international standards for labour rights.
The main part of the course is devoted to an examination of fundamental labour standards, as identified by the ILO itself, those being rights to freedom of association, the abolition of forced labour, non-discrimination and the reduction of child labour. The difficulties of enforcement of these standards are examined. Reference is also made to other international standards such as those of the UN and the EU.
International Intellectual Property Law
This module aims to explore how, with the rise of information and technology as key global assets, intellectual property laws have been fashioned and constantly transformed to identify, regulate, manage and protect those assets. It examines the process of harmonisation of intellectual property across the world in the context of the international trade regime, the proliferation of overlapping, and often contradictory claims among the diversity of stakeholders as well as policy issues located in ethics, culture and human rights.
International Law on the Use of Force
This module provides an in-depth understanding of one of the most topical and controversial areas of international law: the law governing when force can be used by states in international society. At the heart of the subject is the prohibition of the use of force and the established exceptions of self-defence and collective security. However, the module also critically addresses the controversial exceptions of humanitarian intervention, pre-emptive self-defence and self-defence against terrorism and the relatively uncontroversial existence of peacekeeping operations. These topics are examined in light of the Charter of the United Nations and customary international law.
Regulatory Theory in Cyberspace
This module considers legal and policy issues that have evolved with the rise of cyberspace; examines current and prospective normative principles and rules for its governance by all stakeholders; and considers future developments in regulatory issues emanating from the divergence of international factors in play. The module will focus on defining the legal and technological issues which make cyberspace a unique zone of discourse for the study of international/transnational regulation and the methods of control which can potentially be adopted.
Students who complete at least 60 credits over the taught elements of the course are eligible for the award of the Postgraduate Certificate in International Law.
Your LLM dissertation is an extended and supervised piece on work on a particular aspect of international law chosen in consultation with your course tutors. It is an opportunity to gain knowledge through systematic academic enquiry and for you to demonstrate your ability to explore and present legal arguments. The style of research may range from empirical investigation to textual analysis. You will develop transferable skills in research and information and project management. You will be encouraged to choose an international law topic of personal interest or one related to your occupation. Full-time students will normally begin preliminary work on the dissertation in Semester 1 and formalise the topic and structure of the dissertation in Semester 2. The main work on the dissertation will normally take place from June to mid-August.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Per 6 April 2015 only the English language tests from IELTS and Trinity College London are accepted for Tier 4 Visa applications to the United Kingdom. Other tests (including TOEFL, TOEIC, Pearson, City & Guilds) are no longer accepted for Tier 4 visa applications to the United Kingdom. The university might still accept these tests to admit you to the university, but if you require a Tier 4 visa to enter the UK and begin your degree programme, these tests will not be sufficient to obtain your Visa. Since the Trinity College London language tests must be taken in one of their exam centres in the UK, IELTS is now the only language test accepted for Tier 4 visas to the UK that can be taken worldwide.
Students will normally be required to have (or to be expecting) a first or upper second class honours degree, or an equivalent degree awarded by a university outside the United Kingdom. The degree may be in law or in a related discipline.
In addition, students whose first or main language is not English must provide evidence of English language proficiency. An IELTS minimum score of 6.5 or a TOEFL minimum score of 575 (paper-based) or 92 (internet-based) is required.
Students new to the academic study of law will be advised to read a number of recommended texts by way of induction before they begin the course. Students are also encouraged to attend the induction sessions provided in the week prior to the beginning of the course.
No work experience is required.
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