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LLM in International Economic Law

The LLM in International Economic Law is designed to provide you with an advanced knowledge and understanding of the institutions, rules and principles which underpin the contemporary international economic order.

The LLM is suitable not only for students who seek to pursue a legal career in this area, but also those whose interests are intellectual or policy-oriented. The programme will provide you with a sound technical knowledge, and also equip you to think critically about the most pressing legal and policy issues arising from the globalisation of the world economy.

Students in a seminar

The wide range of courses available will enable you to tailor the programme to your areas of professional and personal interest. You will take foundational courses in international trade law and international investment law, and select additional subjects from a range of other courses, varying from year to year. These may include:

  • law and development
  • international monetary and financial law
  • investment arbitration procedure
  • dispute settlement
  • advanced aspects of both trade and investment law.

You will also be able to choose from a wide range of specialised courses in others areas of public international law as part of your LLM in International Economic Law.

Across these courses, the goal is to provide you with both a theoretical and practical understanding of the core branches of international economic law, including their underpinning institutional frameworks, as well as a deep knowledge of the contemporary challenges facing this dynamic field. You will develop the critical skills required for independent analysis of international economic legal and policy issues, and of its interactions with other areas of international law. You will also acquire the academic skills required to analyse the activities of international governmental and non-governmental organisations and private actors in the field of international economic law.

During your studies you will be introduced to one of the most significant bodies of rules and institutions involved in constructing and shaping the contemporary international economic order. International economic law is significant not only because it has played a central role facilitating the integration of world markets, but also because it is part of what which determine how the gains from integration are distributed.

International economic law helps to bring developing countries, including China, into the global economy – and also to set the terms on which they compete with more established economies. You will learn about why this body of law attracts such strength of both praise and criticism, and why controversies around globalisation, trade and investment seem right now to fill the daily newspapers.

Professionally, a sound knowledge of international economic law is increasingly valued by law firms, looking for those with the expertise to provide both technical and strategic advice to international clients with export-oriented businesses, or businesses in more than one country. In addition, those who choose to practice in the specialised areas of trade and investment law will find them both vibrant, interesting and rewarding fields.

This programme is designed to provide graduates with a range of employment opportunities which may include:

  • legal practice
  • government legal service
  • legal advisor to non-governmental organisations and private companies
  • international civil servants
  • specialised researchers in academic and think-tank institutions
  • independent consultants

Haosen Tang, 2017

"I really enjoyed being a student on the LLM in International Economic Law as it provided an amazing learning experience during the full year of study.

In addition to practical cases in daily class exercises, leading tutors and special guests in this field imparted knowledge and guided us in humorous and informative approaches which not only taught you how to learn "law on books" but also how to think critically in legal practice.

Haosen Tang, LLM in International Economic Law, 2017
Haosen Tang, LLM in International Economic Law, 2017
Although it was a bit difficult at the beginning of the groups for seminars in two compulsory courses, you will find yourself improve your skills and knowledge, which for sure, is vital and necessary to arm yourself with competitive power in job hunting in the long run."

Edinburgh Law School is Scotland’s leading legal research institution, and is host to a large, vibrant and research-active community in international law. We take a research-led approach to teaching and academic staff teaching on our programmes are all experts in their field and involved in cutting-edge research.

Find out more about our research in international law


The established Edinburgh Centre for International and Global Law hosts workshops, conferences, and guest speakers, throughout the year. Students are actively encouraged to attend these events, and to take advantage of the many opportunities for engagement with leading professionals and intellectuals that they provide.

A number of the courses on the programme also provide opportunities for interaction with outside experts as guest seminar leaders, which in the past have included a number from the World Trade Organization, the European Commission, investment arbitrators, international law firms and global universities.

Visit the Edinburgh Centre for International and Global Law website

Contact us

If you have any questions about the LLM in International Economic 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 a wide range of subjects on economic law and commercial law with an international perspective, enabling you to tailor the LLM to meet your specific 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 Programme Tables website.

View full programme information for the LLM in International Economic Law

Courses shown below are scheduled to run in the 2019/20 academic year.  With the exception of compulsory courses, depending on demand, space on specific courses may be limited.

You must take these courses:

  • WTO Law 1 (20 credits)

    The aim of the course is to provide students with an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the multilateral trading system. The course will cover the institutional and the substantive law of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which since its establishment in 1995 has played a central role in, among other things, promoting the two underlying principles of non-discrimination and trade liberalisation. After analysing theoretical and practical arguments for and against free trade and the role of institutions in international trade, the course will then focus on the institutional structure and decision-making process of the WTO, including its unique system of the settlement of trade disputes. Students will then explore the key legal disciplines relating to international trade in goods (GATT) and services (GATS), particularly the principle of non-discrimination and market-access rules. In addition, the course will address the central issue of technical barriers to trade.

  • International Investment Law (20 credits)

    This course will give an introduction to the major themes and issues of international investment law. The focus of study is the rules contained in the network of more than 3000 bilateral and multilateral treaties on investment protection, as well as the growing number of decisions by arbitral tribunals in this field. Students will analyse the substantive principles of investment law, such as most-favoured nation treatment, fair and equitable treatment, and the rules relating to expropriation. They will also study mechanisms for dispute settlement in the context of investment disputes, particularly investor-state arbitration. Throughout the course, students will consider the extent to which international investment law draws an appropriate balance between investment protection on the one hand and the ability of states to regulate on key public policy issues on the other hand. Students will also look at the challenges of developing a coherent regime of investment rules.

You must select between 20 and 40 credits from the following courses:

  • Advanced Issues in International Economic Law (20 credits)

    This course is tailored for students who seek to acquire a thorough knowledge and critical understanding of contemporary issues in international trade and investment law. Each year, the lecturers will pick a range of topics from contemporary issues that have received heightened attention in the scholarship, the practice and the agenda of policy-makers.
    Because this course builds on previous knowledge, it will not cover the basic elements of WTO and international investment law. It will instead centre upon pending cases, reform proposals, sensitive policy matters and unresolved legal issues.
    You will be required to read both primary and secondary sources in preparation for the seminars. It will be impossible to prepare for the seminars by doing a superficial reading of these materials, you will need to critically think on these materials on the basis of the questions set in seminar handouts. 
    This course is designed to encourage and develop the use of transferable skills relating to the application of law to complex scenarios, critical judgement on the law and the formulation of legal/policy responses to complex questions. Students who succeed in this course will be well-positioned to handle international economic law in a professional manner.

  • WTO Law 2 (20 credits)

    The aim of this course is to allow students with a particular interest in global economic governance to explore a greater diversity of topics than is possible in one term only. It will focus on more specialised - but highly significant - issues of WTO law such as subsidies, trade remedies and anti-dumping. It will also cover the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and the principle of special and differential treatment of developing countries. In addition, however, there is a much greater emphasis in this course (as compared to WTO Law 1) on addressing cross-cutting and contemporary issues of contemporary trade governance. These will vary from year to year, but may include: international economic law żafter the crisisż; the 'new regionalism'; the relationship between trade, investment and finance; the emergence of new developmentalism and its prospects; and the aesthetics of expertise in international economic governance.

You must select between 20 and 60 credits from the following courses:

  • Fundamentals Issues in International Law (full-year course, 40 credits)

    This is a course aimed at introducing students to fundamental debates about the nature of international law and the international legal order today, and its relationship to states, markets, conflict, justice and human rights. The course is historical, conceptual, theoretical and legal. It introduces students to key ideas and arguments about where the international legal order is coming from and where it is going, what its building blocks are, and how those components are changing. A theme uniting the course is the extent to which the international legal order is shifting from a classical jus inter gentes to something else: a law of global governance, a global administrative law, a law of rights and regulation, or some combination.

  • The Law of International Trade (full-year course, 40 credits)

    This course examines the legal aspects of international trade in a broad context. The legal framework of the course is English law as well as the relevant international conventions and standard terms. The course examines international sale of goods which are transported by ship/road/air with emphasis on sea transport. It investigates the trade terms used in international sale contracts (in the context of English common law and Incoterms in particular) and analyses the resulting obligations of the parties regarding payment methods (with emphasis on letters of credit and bills of exchange), transportation of the goods (focusing on bills of lading and waybills) and marine cargo insurance in the manner in which these relate to one another. Due to the international nature of each of these transactions the relevant aspects of international private law and dispute resolution are examined.

  • EU External Economic Relations Law (20 credits)

    The objective of the course is to provide students with a thorough knowledge of the legal and institutional framework governing the external economic relations of the European Union (EU), an area of EU law that has increasingly captured scholarly attention over the past two decades. Students will also gain a critical understanding of the growing and complex role of the EU as an actor in global economic affairs, including through the analysis of specific policy measures.
    The course is broadly divided into two parts. The first group of seminars will address the constitutional foundations of the EU as an actor in international economic relations, examining both the EU treaties and the relevant case law of the European Court of Justice. The topics that will be covered include: the EU as an international actor with attributed powers; the EU and its Member States on the international scene; and the legal status and effect of international agreements in the EU’s legal order. The second group of seminars will instead look at the legal framework and instruments of the EU external economic policies, starting with the common commercial policy as the oldest and most developed EU external policy, followed by the EU development and economic cooperation policies as well as the external dimension of other EU economic policies (e.g. the economic and monetary union). Students will also explore how the EU’s external economic policies interact with, and are used to promote the objectives of, other EU policies (such as the common foreign and security policy or environmental policy).

  • International Commercial Arbitration (20 credits)

    The world is a global market place as never before. Legal individuals contract with others across the globe. Parties can choose where and how to resolve their transnational disputes and in doing so protect their investment by international arbitration. Parties can benefit from a judgement - termed an Award - that is generally more effective and enforceable than a judgement of a National Court.

You may also have the opportunity to study the following courses from outside of the Law School as part of the this group of courses. These include:

  • Economics for Postgraduates
  • International Political Economy

You will have the option to take between 0 and 40 credits of courses from 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 Programme Tables website.

View full programme information for the LLM in International Economic Law


Having successfully completed 120 credit points of courses within the LLM, 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 from within the field of international economic law, normally based on a subject you have studied in one of your courses during 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 International Economic Law please don't hesitate to contact us.

Staff teaching on the core courses of the LLM in International Economic Law for 2019/20 are experts in their field and are actively involved in cutting-edge research in the fields of international and economic law.

Prof Andrew Lang joined the University of Edinburgh in 2017 as Chair in Public International Law and Global Governance. He was formerly Professor of Law at the London School of Economics, where he taught from 2006-2017.

His current research thematically focusses on a number of themes around global economic governance, including the relationship between law and expert knowledge, theoretical international law and economics, and sociological approaches to the study of international economic law. He is co-authoring a commentary on the WTO’s Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade, and has ongoing projects relating to the treatment of subsidies in WTO law, the WTO implications of Brexit, and the SPS agreement.

Find out more

Dr Filippo Fontanelli joined the Law School in 2015. Before joining the School he lectured law at the School of Law of the University of Surrey (2012-2014), where he taught public international law, law of the World Trade Organisation, EU law I and II, international law of foreign investment protection and international law of human rights protection.

He is a member of the Centre for Judicial Cooperation of the European University Institute of Fiesole (Italy) and routinely provides training sessions to judges and practitioners on matters of EU law and human rights protection in Europe.  He is also admitted to the bar in Italy (Rome).

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Dr Simone Lamont-Black (née Schnitzer) qualified as civil lawyer in Germany where she practised law as Rechtsanwältin for several years.  She specialises and researches in the (private) law of international trade and carriage of goods and has a keen interest in international commercial dispute resolution. Simone also established the Edinburgh Willem Vis Moot Team and the annual Edinburgh Willem Vis Pre-Moot.

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Dr Luca Cerioni joined the Law School in 2015. Before entering academia Luca was a practising member of the Italian chartered accontancy and tax consultancy professional body. His research interests include international tax competition and international tax avoidance; EU tax policy developments. 

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Michelle Burgis-Kasthala joined the Law School in September 2013. Her teaching focusses on public international law and international human rights law. Her research centres on the operation and contestation over international law across the Arab World.

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Dr Ana María Daza Vargas joined the Law School as a teaching fellow in 2013. Ana María’s research interests cover International Investment Law, International Law, Water Law and Water Management, WTO Law and Economic Regulation.Ana María has been and continuous to be an independent consultant for AACNI International Law Firm. She is also the editor of the online newsletter Arbitration Watch.

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Academic staff listed above are subject to change for the 2019/20 academic year. 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 International Economic Law please don't hesitate to contact us.

We require a minimum UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in law. We will also consider candidates with a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in a social science subject.

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 6.5 in each module).
  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 23 in each module).
  • PTE(A): total 67 (at least 61 in each of the Communicative Skills sections).
  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 176 in each module).
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III (with a pass in all four components).

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

We do 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.

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

Contact us

If you have any questions about our entry requirements 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.

Applications to this programme for September 2019 entry are now closed. Applications for September 2020 entry will open in early October.

Applications to this programme closed on 2 April due to high demand.

We aim to review applications and make selection decisions throughout the cycle and 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.

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.

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

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

Find out more about applying to the University of Edinburgh

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

Contact us

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