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LLM in Intellectual Property Law

The LLM in Intellectual Property Law is designed to equip you with an advanced knowledge and understanding of intellectual property law and policy within a domestic (UK), regional (European) and international setting.

Students in class

During your studies you will have the opportunity to undertake in-depth study of a range of contemporary issues through our taught core courses in intellectual property law, and develop further critical understanding and research skills through a dissertation on an intellectual property issue of your choice.

The programme will expose you to a broad range of perspectives on intellectual property law, practice, and policy. It covers substantive law on all major intellectual property rights, including copyright, trade marks, designs, patents, and common law protection of intellectual property rights. It also examines these rights within the international intellectual property treaty framework and system. The programme assesses the place and role of these rights by investigating a range of topical issues, which underpin contemporary intellectual property law and policy.

At Edinburgh, we take an interdisciplinary approach and the LLM in Intellectual Property Law will offer you the opportunity to examine intellectual property not just in its legal but also social, economic, ethical, cultural and commercial contexts.

In addition to the core intellectual property law courses, as part of your studies you will have the opportunity to choose courses from the wide range of options offered by Edinburgh Law School enabling you to tailor your studies to meet your specific interests.

Saraswathy Vaidyanathan, LLM in Intellectual Property Law, 2017
The LLM in IP Law has brilliant lecturers, wonderfully designed courses, stimulating 'intellectual' discussions, and students from all around the world.
Saraswathy Vaidyanathan
LLM in Intellectual Property Law, 2017

Intellectual property is everywhere today. The global use of intellectual property has been on the rise in the last decade and it is now an important concern in both developed and developing economies. Intellectual property protection has increasingly been associated with the aims of promoting economic growth, innovation, and creativity.

On the one hand, IP-intensive industries are seen to make a significant contribution to GDP and national employment and bring other socio-economic benefits. On the other, tensions remain between intellectual property rights and the development of information and communication technologies, access to medicines and education, and the right to freedom of expression and the right to privacy, to name a few.

The ever-increasing role and impact of intellectual property law and policy makes specialised knowledge of this subject a valuable asset for those:

  • intending to enter legal practice and specialise in intellectual property law;
  • seeking to work in areas such as the creative industries, cultural industries, manufacturing industries, pharmaceuticals, life sciences, computing, information and communication technologies, etc. with a focus on intellectual property;
  • intending to take up a policymaking role in relation to knowledge-intensive sectors;
  • looking to undertake further postgraduate study in the area of intellectual property law or pursue a research or academic career.

Edinburgh Law School has been specialising in the field of IP for many years and established the SCRIPT centre, a pioneering centre of excellence in the disciplines of IP and IT law, in 1998. The School’s profile in the field of IP continued to grow through the activities of the AHRC Research Centre for Studies in Intellectual Property and Technology Law (2002-2012). From 2012 to 2018, Edinburgh Law School’s IP specialists formed part of the RCUK-funded multi-institutional CREATe consortium. The SCRIPT Centre continues to be highly regarded and partners the LLM in Intellectual Property Law.

Current members of the IP team (Dr Smita Kheria, Ms Jane Cornwell, Dr Emmanuel Oke, and Dr Amandine Leonard) offer expertise spanning copyright, designs, trade marks, patents, international IP, IP and human rights, and IP enforcement and the relationship between IP, innovation and creativity. Engaging with diverse research methodologies - doctrinal, socio-legal, and empirical – they conduct innovative research examining topics including creative and cultural intersections, international IP, and IP practice and policy. Dr Kheria and Ms Cornwell are co-authors of a leading textbook on IP rights (Contemporary Intellectual Property: Law and Policy, Oxford University Press).

The SCRIPT Centre runs a highly regarded online open access peer-reviewed journal, SCRIPT-ed. SCRIPTed publishes its peer-reviewed articles and analysis pieces on an ongoing, rolling basis, with contributions being collated into three issues per year (April, August, December). As a student on the LLM in Intellectual Property Law, you will have the opportunity to apply to be a student editor of the journal.

Visit the SCRIPTed website

You may also choose to participate in extra-curricular activities to enhance your learning. Opportunities for Intellectual Property focussed extra-curricular activities vary from year to year. In recent years, teams have entered the prestigious Annual Oxford International Intellectual Property Law Moot Competition. Students have also visited the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art to discuss the intersection between copyright and contemporary art by reviewing some well-known artworks on display, and have been hosted at the University’s 3D printing studio to learn more about developments in this exciting technological field.

Students on the LLM in Intellectual Property are invited to attend guest lectures organised via the SCRIPT Centre and participate in the IP/IT/Media reading group for PhD and LLM students. In recent years topics such as the parody exception under copyright, regulation of immoral marks, the relationship between privacy and freedom of expression, and the regulation of online copyright infringement, have been discussed.

Contact us

If you have any questions about the LLM in Intellectual Property Law please don't hesitate to contact us.

This programme can be taken full-time over one year, or part-time over two years (due to current UKVI regulations, the part-time programme is only available to UK and EU students). It offers you exclusive access to the whole range of core courses from the field of intellectual property offered in Edinburgh Law School while also giving you the option to tailor the programme to suit your needs and interests.

The programme consists of 180 credits, comprising taught courses worth 120 credits (60 credits per semester) and a 10,000 word dissertation worth 60 credits. Full programme details are available on the University Degree Regulations and Programmes of Study website.

View full programme information for the LLM in Intellectual Property Law

Courses shown below are for the 2020/21 academic year and are for illustrative purposes. Courses for the 2021/22 academic year will be confirmed in May 2021.

You must select between 80 and 120 credits from the following courses:

  • Intellectual Property Law 1: Copyright and Related Rights (20 credits) 

    The purpose of this course is to consider the law relating to copyright, design rights, database right, and performers' rights within their institutional setting at international, European and national level.
    Recent years have witnessed an expansion in the scope of intellectual property rights, and having examined the institutional setting in which policy is formed, the reach and impact of these rights within the UK will be analysed.
    The teaching sessions will also highlight areas of particular topicality.

  • Intellectual Property Law 2: Industrial Property (20 credits) 

    The purpose of this course is to consider the laws relating to patents, trade marks, passing off, and breach of confidence. Noting the international framework and context, the focus will be on European and UK law.
    Recent years have witnessed an expansion in the scope of these intellectual property rights. This course will examine in detail the law on subsistence/entitlement to protection, infringement and defences for all of the relevant rights, alongside discussion of wider policy, economic and other considerations.
    The sessions will also highlight areas of particular topicality.

  • International Intellectual Property System (20 credits)

    The IIPS began developing in the 19th Century in response to the then advances in cross-border trade. As intellectual property laws are territorial, so some mechanism had to be found through which protection could be accorded to authors and inventors as their works were traded abroad. The response, over the ensuing 150 years, was the establishment of a number of international bodies responsible for the development and oversight of a variety of Treaties and Agreements providing both formal and substantive norms which were (and are) in turn translated into domestic law. These measures have had a significant impact on the shape of domestic intellectual property laws, the development of which has quickened with the growth in international trade coupled with innovative technological advances. However there are significant tensions within the system. Many of these have been brought about through linking of IP with trade through the TRIPs Agreement.
    This course will examine the IIPS with a particular focus on patents, copyright and trade marks and within the domains of information and communication and international trade. Having analysed the architecture of the IIPS and considered the ways in which the laws are developed and the tensions that have been brought about through linking IP with trade, this module will go on to look in depth at formal and substantive aspects of the Treaties as well as current developments.

  • Intellectual Property and Human Rights (20 credits)

    This course will examine the nature and significance of the relationship between IP and Human Rights. There will be an exploration of the various tensions resulting from the interaction between IP and Human Rights and an examination of how these tensions are being addressed at national, regional, and global levels. In this regard, the module will examine how traditional IPRs (such as patents, copyright and trademarks) interact and impact civil and political rights (such as freedom of expression and privacy) and economic and social rights (such as the rights to health, education, and food). Other forms of IPRs, such as Image Rights and Plant Variety Protection, and how they impact human rights will also be studied. In addition, there will be an analysis of the issues pertaining to indigenous peoples and the protection of their traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions from a human rights perspective.

  • Intellectual Property Law, Innovation and Creativity (20 credits)

    Intellectual Property laws are often associated with the aims of promoting 'innovation' and 'creativity'. But how do Intellectual Property laws impact upon innovation and creativity? Do they promote or hinder them? What is the relationship between Intellectual Property Laws and the variety of activities that they are designed to affect in everyday life? Are there gaps between what Intellectual Property laws aim to achieve and actually achieve? Why do these gaps exist and how can they be filled? How should Intellectual Property policy be formulated? This course will explore these questions in order to examine the nature of Intellectual property from a law and society perspective.

  • Contemporary Issues in Exploiting Intellectual Property (20 credits)

    Intellectual Property (IP) is of fundamental importance in the modern economy. In certain sectors, IP rights - whether copyright, trade marks, design rights, or patents - can be the most valuable asset a business owns. Such value is realised through successful exploitation of those IP rights.
    This research-led, but practice-focussed, course will examine important contemporary issues in exploitation of IP. The course will be highly responsive to legal and policy developments in both the commercial context and other contexts such as the cultural sector.
    Due to the nature and focus of the course, the teaching content and programme will be flexible and may change substantially from year to year, as topical issues are resolved and new issues emerge.

You must select between 0 and 40 credits of courses from the different subject areas offered by the Law School, depending on availability and with the express permission of the Programme Director. Depending on demand, space on courses outside the core courses may be limited.

Full programme details, including core and optional courses is available on the University Degree Regulations and Programmes of Study website.

View full programme information for the LLM in Intellectual Property Law


Having successfully completed 120 credit points of taught courses within the LLM in Intellectual Property Law, you will be ready to move onto a single piece of independent and in-depth research. The 10,000 word dissertation allows you to focus on a preferred topic within the area of intellectual property law, normally based on a subject you have studied in one of your courses during the programme.

You will be assigned an academic dissertation supervisor who will provide you with support and guidance while you prepare and write your dissertation.

The dissertation is a challenging but rewarding endeavour, asking you to demonstrate a comprehensive grasp of the relevant literature and an ability to engage critically with a range of sources, drawing on the skills and knowledge you have developed during the course of the programme. Students are encouraged to show originality and evidence of independent thinking, whether in terms of the material used, or the manner in which it is presented.

The dissertation is written in the summer months (April to August) after the taught courses are successfully completed.

Please note that due to unforeseen circumstances or lack of demand for particular courses, we may not be able to run all courses as advertised come the start of the academic year.

Contact us

If you have any questions about the LLM in Intellectual Property Law please don't hesitate to contact us.

Staff teaching on the core courses of the LLM in Intellectual Property Law are experts in their field and are actively involved in cutting-edge research in the field.

Dr Smita Kheria - Programme Director 2020/21

Dr Smita Kheria

Smita is a Senior Lecturer in Intellectual Property Law and the founding director of the LLM in Intellectual property Law. She studied at the University of Buckingham (LLB (Hons)), the University of Cambridge (LLM), and at Queen's University Belfast (PhD). Before undertaking her doctoral studies, she also practised as an advocate in commercial and intellectual property law. She combines legal expertise in copyright and related rights with socio-legal research on intellectual property law in the real world.

Smita’s primary research interests are in substantive law on copyright and related rights, in using empirical research to address questions pertaining to copyright law and policy, and, in exploring connections between Intellectual Property law and new forms of property and culture through the lens of creators and users. She has been involved in several research projects that have examined how copyright intersects with the everyday lives and creative practices of digital artists, online creative communities, arts and humanities researchers, and professional creators and performers. She is a co-author of the textbook Contemporary Intellectual Property: Law and Policy (3rd to 5th edns, Oxford University Press). She also promotes IP awareness through speaking to creative communities (e.g. young publishers, comic artists, Edinburgh Fringe performers) and is active in public engagement events (Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas shows in Edinburgh Festival Fringe).

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Jane Cornwell joined the University of Edinburgh as a lecturer in intellectual property law in October 2010. After graduating from the University of Cambridge, she qualified and practised as a solicitor in the intellectual property team at Linklaters LLP in London. Thereafter she spent several years practising at McGrigors LLP in Scotland, latterly as Director in the Edinburgh litigation team specialising in contentious intellectual property.

Since joining the University of Edinburgh, Jane has acted for several years as Programme Director for the Law School’s online LLM in Intellectual Property Law as well as teaching across a range of on-campus and online undergraduate and postgraduate IP courses. She has also acted as Deputy Director of Postgraduate Taught Studies, with particular focus on online learning. She is a co-author of the textbook Contemporary Intellectual Property: Law and Policy (3rd4th and 5th edns, OUP).

Jane's expertise covers a wide range of IP rights. Her particular interests include trade marks, design law and IP remedies, with a particular focus of the impact of European harmonisation in these fields, including trade marks, designs, patents and breach of confidence.

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Amandine joined the University of Edinburgh as an early career fellow in IP law in August 2020. Her research and teaching interests lie primarily in the area of patent law and, in particular, patent enforcement.

She also conducts research on the rationales and objectives of IP law, the approach adopted by the United States and European countries regarding limitations and exceptions in IP law, the interface between competition law and IP law, as well as issues of liability for patent infringement in the fourth industrial revolution (4IR).

Prior to joining the University of Edinburgh, she was an Emile Noël postdoctoral fellow at the Jean Monnet Center of NYU School of Law.

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Emmanuel joined the School of Law as a Lecturer in International Intellectual Property Law in August 2016. He has LLB and LLM degrees from the University of Lagos. He also has an LLM degree in Intellectual Property and Technology Law from the National University of Singapore. He obtained his PhD degree from University College Cork. He was called to the Nigerian Bar in 2008 and he is a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

His research interests includes international and comparative aspects of intellectual property law. Specifically, his research explores the interface between intellectual property and other branches of international law such as international trade law, international investment law, international taxation law, and international human rights law.

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Gerard Porter is a lecturer in Medical Law and Ethics. He is a graduate of Cardiff University (LL.B. Law and Japanese) and Kyushu University, Japan (LL.M. International Economic and Business Law). His research interests include medical law, patent law and the regulation of the life sciences. He speaks Japanese and also conducts comparative research in Japanese law within these subject areas.

He has held visiting fellowships at the Centre for Studies in Ethics and Rights (Mumbai, India), the Centre for Biomedical Ethics, National University of Singapore and with the Program on Science, Technology and Society at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. He is currently serving as the Director of Ethics and Integrity at Edinburgh Law School.

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The staff teaching on this programme are subject to change for 2021/22. Staff listed as on sabbatical will not be available to teach for the duration of their sabbatical.

Contact us

If you have any questions about the LLM in Intellectual Property Law please don't hesitate to contact us.

Find out what it's like to study for an LLM in Intellectual Property Law at Edinburgh Law School from our current and former students.

Sonja, Germany

Sonja, a student from Germany, studied the LLM in Intellectual Property Law during the 2018-19 academic year, graduating in 2019. In this video she talks about her experience of studying for the LLM at Edinburgh Law School and her time in Edinburgh.

Saraswathy talks about her experience of studying the LLM in Intellectual Property Law at Edinburgh Law School.

Marleen studied the LLM in Intellectual Property Law in the 2018-19 academic year, graduating in 2019.

"After graduating from law school in Germany, I was looking for a programme which combines fundamental principles of a foreign system of intellectual property rights with in-depth discussions with classmates coming from various countries on issues deriving from ongoing technological progression.

Marleen, LLM in Intellectual Property Law, 2019

With seminars based on an interactive teaching method, the programme at the University of Edinburgh perfectly matched my interests and helped me to define my academic career in a field of law of ever-increasing importance. The variety of course choices was particularly valuable. In addition to courses on the domestic intellectual property law system, I also got the chance to get an international perspective on the subject. Moreover, I appreciated how the broad variety of courses enabled an insight on the interface between intellectual property rights and human rights as well as European competition law.

The excellent academic education, the approachable lecturers and the vibrant student life in Edinburgh (including various student societies and sport clubs) made my year abroad an exciting and enriching chapter. The specialist knowledge I acquired during the year will be very valuable during my clerkship and my future career in intellectual property law."

Iva studied the LLM in Intellectual Property Law at Edinburgh Law School in 2017-18. In this video she talks about her experience on the LLM and life in Edinburgh as a student.
Martha studied the LLM in Intellectual Property Law during the 2016-17 academic year, graduating in 2017. Here she talks about her experience of studying at Edinburgh Law School.
Nikoletta studied for an LLM in Intellectual Property Law at Edinburgh Law School in the 2016-17 academic year, graduating in 2017. Here she talks about her experiences on the programme and living in Edinburgh.

Jens Thusen graduated in the LLM in Intellectual Property law programme in November 2014. Here, he discusses some of his highlights studying at Edinburgh Law School, his role in Edinburgh Law Connections and what he has done since graduating.

Contact us

If you have any questions about the LLM in Intellectual Property Law please don't hesitate to contact us.

We recommend that you apply as early as possible; this is particularly important for students holding conditional offers (for example, you may need to allow sufficient time to take an English language test) and for overseas students who may need time to satisfy necessary visa requirements (for further, country-specific information, please consult the website of the University's Edinburgh Global) and/or to apply for University accommodation.

Apply for September 2021 entry

Entry requirements

We require a minimum 2:1 honours degree from a UK university, or its international equivalent, in law. We may also consider candidates with a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in a non-law subject if they can demonstrate prior high-level study or experience of intellectual property topics. Entry to this programme is competitive. Meeting minimum requirements for consideration does not guarantee an offer of study.

Supporting your application

  • Relevant work experience is not required but may increase your chances of acceptance.
  • Relevant professional qualifications will be considered.
  • Preference will be given to those with grades above the minimum requirements due to strong competition for places on this programme.

If you have a non-UK degree, please check whether your degree qualification is equivalent to the minimum standard before applying.

Check your degree

Postgraduate study in the field of law requires a thorough, complex and demanding knowledge of English, so we ask that the communication skills of all students are at the same minimum standard.

Students whose first language is not English must therefore show evidence of one of the following qualifications below:

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 7.0 in the writing component and 6.5 in each other module)
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition): total 100 (at least 25 in writing and 23 in each other module)
  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 185 in writing and 176 in each other module)
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

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Your English language certificate must be no more than two years old at the beginning of your degree programme.

We also accept an undergraduate or masters degree, that was taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country as defined by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). The UK Government's website provides a list of majority English speaking countries.

View the UKVI list of majority English speaking countries

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree, or equivalent, that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about the University's English language requirements

Your application may not be successful if you do not currently satisfy any of these requirements; alternatively, you may be offered a place conditional on your reaching the satisfactory standard by the time you start the degree.

English language support

The University runs a series of programmes for English Language Education, including a pre-sessional English Language Programme intended to strengthen your English Language skills before you start your programme of study.

Find out more about English language support offered by the University

Due to high demand, the school operates a number of selection deadlines. We will make a small number of offers to the most outstanding candidates on an ongoing basis, but hold the majority of applications until the next published selection deadline when we will offer a proportion of the places available to applicants selected through a competitive process.

Deadlines for applicants applying to study the LLM in Intellectual Property Law in 2021/22 are provided in the table below.

Round Application deadline Decisions by
1 11 December 2020 09 February 2021
2 05 March 2021 09 April 2021
3 14 May 2021 29 June 2021
4 30 June 2021 30 July 2021

We monitor application numbers carefully to ensure we are able to accommodate all those who receive offers. It may therefore be necessary to close a programme earlier than the published deadline and if this is the case we will place a four-week warning notice on the relevant programme page.

Please note that the deadline for meeting the conditions of an offer is 31 August 2020.

Applications are made online via the University Application Service, EUCLID.

Please follow the instructions carefully and make sure that you have included the following documentation with your application:

  • Degree certificates showing award of degree.
  • Previous academic transcripts for all past degree programmes (please upload the full transcript showing results from all years of study).
  • A reference in support or your application. The reference should be academic and dated no earlier than one year from the start of study on the LLM programme.
  • Evidence of English language proficiency, if required.

If you are currently studying for your degree or you are not in a possession of an English test result you may still apply to the programme. Please note that it is your responsibility to submit the necessary documents.

Students at this University must not undertake any other concurrent credit bearing studies in this (or in any other) institution, unless the College has granted permission. The College must be satisfied that any additional credit-bearing studies will not restrict the student’s ability to complete their existing programme of study. Students will not be permitted to undertake concurrent degree programmes in any circumstances.

If you are studying at this or another institution just prior to the start of your postgraduate studies you must have finished these studies before the start of the programme to which you have an offer.

After your application has been submitted you will be able to track its progress through the University's applicant hub.

Application processing times will vary however the admissions team will endeavour to process your application within four to six weeks of submission. Please note that missing documentation will delay the application process.

You will be informed as soon as possible of the decision taken. Three outcomes are possible:

  • You may be offered a place unconditionally
  • You may be offered a conditional place, which means that you must fulfil certain conditions that will be specified in the offer letter. Where a conditional offer is made, it is your responsibility to inform the College Postgraduate Office when you have fulfilled the requirements set out.
  • Your application may be unsuccessful. If your application has not been successful, you can request feedback from us or refer to our guidance for unsuccessful applicants, which explains some of the common reasons we why we reach this decision.
    View the University's guidance for unsuccessful applicants

Please note that if you receive an offer of a place to study the LLM in Intellectual Property Law and later decide that you do not want to accept your place, we do not allow deferrals. In this case you would have to reapply for the following academic year.

You can find full and detailed application guidance on the University's website.

Find out more about applying to the University of Edinburgh

If you receive an offer of admission, either unconditional or conditional, you will be asked to pay a tuition fee deposit of £1,500 (within 28 days of receiving your offer) to secure your place on the programme.

Find out more about tuition fee deposits

The University’s terms and conditions form part of your contract with the University, and you should read them, and our data protection policy, carefully before applying.

University of Edinburgh admissions terms and conditions

Apply for September 2021 entry

Contact us

If you have any questions about applying to the LLM in Intellectual Property Law please don't hesitate to contact us.