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LLM in Intellectual Property Law

Please note that we will not be accepting applications to the LLM in Intellectual Property Law by online learning for September 2022 or January 2023 entry.

The LLM in Intellectual Property Law by online learning aims to provide you with an advanced knowledge and understanding of intellectual property law and policy within a domestic (UK), regional (European), and international context.

Jane Cornwell talks about the benefits of studying for an LLM in Intellectual Property Law by online learning.

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. You will also have the opportunity to 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. As a student on this programme, you will study in substantive detail all of the major intellectual property rights, including:

  • Copyright and related rights
  • Trade marks
  • Patents
  • Designs
  • Confidential information and trade secrets

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. The programme also addresses global IP policy-making and the framework of international treaties that govern intellectual property law. Additionally, the programme offers a more commercial legal perspective, addressing the legal aspects of managing intellectual property - from generating and transacting in IP to enforcement and litigation. The programme also offers opportunities to examine intellectual property from a competition law perspective. You will equally have the chance to critically examine the interface between intellectual property and human rights.

As a student on this programme, you will become familiar with intellectual property legislation and cases, policy documents and international treaties. You will also become familiar with the rich academic literature related to intellectual property law.

The textbook associated with the programme is written by current and former Edinburgh Law School academics and is aligned with the structure and content of our courses. To complement this core reading, you will have full access to a wide range of scholarly e-journals and e-books. Edinburgh University’s library offers excellent online access to the key legal research resources and databases that you will need. You will also benefit from the input of specialist intellectual property law practitioners who join certain classes to share their insights and experience.

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

Rachel Banfield, LLM in Intellectual Property Law (online), 2017
The LLM helped me to successfully progress in my career once I had the formal qualifications that supported my practical experiences. The online learning option offered me the opportunity to work, study, and bring up small children.
Rachel Banfield, Manager within the Clinical Trials Industry
LLM in Intellectual Property by online learning, 2012

Intellectual property is ubiquitous in the modern world. The global use of intellectual property is on the rise and is an important concern in both developed and developing economies.

Intellectual property protection has been associated with the aims of promoting economic growth, innovation, and creativity. On the one hand, intellectual property 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.

The ever-increasing role and impact of intellectual property law and policy makes specialised knowledge of this subject a valuable asset for a wide range of students. You may be a lawyer or other IP legal professional wanting to improve your knowledge of intellectual property law.

You may work commercially in a sector with an intellectual property emphasis, from the creative and cultural industries to the life sciences, manufacturing, computing, information and communication technology sectors.

You may be intending to take up a policymaking role in relation to knowledge-intensive sectors, or you may be looking to undertake further postgraduate study in the area of intellectual property law or to pursue a research or academic career.

Our intellectual property courses provide an opportunity not only to understand the relevant legal issues and frameworks, but also to develop and discuss ideas with academic staff and fellow course participants, and to develop specific research interests. Students are expected to undertake significant independent research tasks and learn on their own as well as part of a group. This is invaluable for students in building individual and collective research and analytical skills that will be essential in their professional life after the LLM.

The staff who lead our courses are experts in their specialist areas and are actively involved in cutting-edge research in the field.

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 and Dr Emmanuel Oke) offer expertise spanning copyright, designs, trade marks, international IP, IP and human rights, and IP enforcement. Engaging with diverse research methodologies - doctrinal, socio-legal, and empirical – they conduct innovative research examining topics including creative and cultural intersections, international IP, Europeanisation of 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).

Contact us

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

The principal focus of our intellectual property courses will be on UK and European law, together with the international treaty and policy context. We will also consider the potential impacts and consequences of Brexit. UK intellectual property laws remain presently unchanged and will remain aligned with European Union intellectual property laws until the UK ceases to be a member of the EU. We will monitor and assess Brexit-related intellectual property developments as appropriate throughout our courses.

Alongside our core intellectual property courses, the LLM also gives you the opportunity to explore different subject areas including: commercial law, information technology law and medical law. In this way, you can build a portfolio of courses tailored to suit your personal and professional 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 Programme Tables website.

View the LLM in Intellectual Property Law Degree Programme Table

Courses shown below are scheduled to run in the 2019/20 academic year.

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

  • Intellectual Property Law - Copyright & Related Rights (20 credits)

    The purpose of this course is to consider the law relating to copyright, design right, database right and performers' rights within their institutional setting at the international, European and national levels.
    Recent years have witnessed an expansion in the scope of intellectual property rights. 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 weeks will also highlight areas of particular topicality.

  • Intellectual Property Law - 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. 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. Areas of particular topicality will also be highlighted.

  • Legal Aspects of Managing Intellectual Property (20 credits)

    This course will examine the legal considerations relevant to commercialisation and enforcement of the principal intellectual property ("IP") rights. The primary jurisdictional focus of the course will be the UK and Europe, together with discussion of international registration procedures for registered IP rights. This course will involve the consideration of legal issues drawing from a range of subject areas, including patent and trade mark practice, contract, commercial law, international private law and civil enforcement procedure.

  • European Competition and Innovation (20 credits)

    This course examines the principal issues arising from the application of Articles 101 and 102 TFEU to practices aimed at furthering innovation and investment. It will include a consideration of the following topics:

    • Article 101 TFEU: current approaches to prima facie anti-competitive agreements in general; legal implications of joint venture arrangements and the application of Article 101(3) to individual cases; the current Block Exemption on Technology Transfer Agreements.
    • Article 102 TFEU: current approaches to abuses of dominant position generally the 2009 Enforcement Priorities document; abuse of dominance in innovative industries; the problem of network effects; issues arising from the application of Article 102 to industry leaders' refusals to deal and to license.


  • International Intellectual Property System (20 credits) - this course will not be offered in the 2019/20 academic year.

    The international intellectual property law system ('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 subsequent years was the establishment of a number of international bodies responsible for the development and oversight of a variety of treaties and agreements. These measures have had a significant impact on the shape and growth of domestic intellectual property laws. However, there are significant tensions within the systems, including those pertaining to the relationship between IP and trade (especially the TRIPs Agreement) and to the interests of developing nations and autochthonous communities, and the negotiation of new instruments (such as the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, ACTA) has proven to be difficult and controversial.
    We will examine the IIPS, primarily from an institutional perspective, across a range of forms of intellectual property and at the margins of IP, within the domains of information, communication, and international trade. This will encompass the analysis of the architecture of the IIPS, the consideration of the ways in which the laws are developed and debated, and the study of formal and (selected) substantive aspects of selected treaties alongside current developments and emerging issues.
    Please note: we will not be looking in depth at substantive aspects of IP law except where they are relevant in the context of the IIPS. It is assumed that you have a basic knowledge of IP law prior to taking this course.

  • Intellectual Property and Human Rights (20 credits) - this course will not be offered in the 2019/20 academic year.

    Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) affect various aspects of our lives including health, education, agriculture, politics, communications, privacy, and the environment. The globalization of IPRs (especially after its linkage with international trade) in recent decades has equally led to inevitable tensions and conflicts between IPRs and human rights in both developed and developing countries. Historically, the fields of IP and Human Rights evolved independently, but there is now an increasing recognition of the relationship between both fields and this has equally led to debates concerning the proper conceptualisation of the relationship between IP and Human Rights.
    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.

You can choose between 0 and 40 credits from the following courses:

  • EU Data Protection Law (20 credits)
  • Information Technology Law (20 credits)
  • Communications Law (20 credits)
  • International and European Media Law (20 credits)
  • The Law of Robotics (20 credits)
  • Forensic Computing and Electronic Commerce
  • Electronic Commerce Law (20 credits)
  • Information: Control and Power (20 credits) - this course will not be offered in the 2019/20 academic year.

You can choose between 0 and 20 credits from the following courses:

  • Contract Law in Europe (20 credits)
  • Comparative & International Corporate Governance (20 credits)
  • Corporate Compliance: Case Studies in Law & Ethics (20 credits)
  • Withdrawal from the EU and the Law (Brexit) (20 credits)
  • Dispute Resolution Methods (20 credits)
  • International Law, Human Rights & Corporate Accountability (20 credits)
  • International Oil & Gas Law (20 credits)
  • Law of Climate Change (20 credits)
  • EU Law (20 credits)
  • Principles of International Taxation (20 credits) - this course will not be offered in the 2019/20 academic year.
  • International Commercial Arbitration (20 credits)

Please note that a course from this group can only be taken with the approval of your Programme Director.

You can choose between 0 and 20 credits from the following courses:

  • Biotechnology, Bioethics and Society (20 credits)
  • European Health Law and Policy (20 credits)
  • Fundamentals in Bioethics (20 credits)
  • The Fundamentals of Law and Medical Ethics (20 credits)
  • Governance of Innovative Medicine (20 credits)
  • Global Health: Law and Policy (20 credits)
  • Shaping Modern Healthcare (10 credits)
  • Regulating Health and Social Care Professionals (10 credits)
  • Law and Ethics at the Start and End of Life (20 credits)

'Shaping Modern Healthcare' and 'Regulating Health and Social Care Professionals' are co-requisites and must both be taken in the semester in which they run.

Please note that a course from this group can only be taken with the approval of your Programme Director.

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 options available in the programme.


Your dissertation title will be agreed with your supervisor during your final semester of taught study. Dissertation topics must fall within the scope of your programme and will relate to specific courses that you have taken at Edinburgh. Supervision continues throughout the research and writing of the dissertation.


Your dissertation must demonstrate a comprehensive grasp of the relevant literature and an ability to engage in critical analysis. More credit will be given for 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.

Courses are offered once in an academic year. Each semester you will choose the course(s) you wish to study in that particular semester. Courses are then allocated. Details of the courses available will be provided in advance.  Courses are then allocated.

The allocation process is intended to support student choices as much as possible, while taking account of optimum class sizes for specific courses.

Class sizes

Class sizes have typically ranged from 15 to 25 students in the past. If more students request a course than can be allocated, students who need to take the course in order to fulfil core programme requirements will have priority and others may be asked to defer that course choice to a later year of study.

Terms and conditions

Please note the University reserves the right to make variations to the contents of programmes, including the range of courses offered, and the available choice of courses in any given year may change.

Find out more about the University's terms and conditions

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 by online learning please don't hesitate to contact us.

The academic staff who lead our courses are experts in their specialist areas and are actively involved in cutting-edge research in intellectual property law.

Ms Jane Cornwell - Programme Director 2019/20

Jane Cornwell joined the Law School 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. Jane's expertise covers a wide range of IP rights, including trade marks, designs, patents and breach of confidence. Her present teaching and research interests focus on trade marks, designs and remedies for infringement, with a particular interest in the effect of European harmonisation within these areas. Jane is also a member of CREATe (Centre for Creativity, Regulation, Enterprise & Technology), leading a work package on copyright and civil enforcement.

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Smita joined the Law School as a Lecturer in Intellectual Property Law in September 2008. She is also an associate of the SCRIPT Centre for Studies in Intellectual Property and Technology Law and member of CREATe (Centre for Creativity, Regulation, Enterprise & Technology), serving as Lead Investigator on two CREATe projects. Her research interests include applicability of empirical research, particularly socio-legal methodologies in addressing questions on copyright law and policy as to new types of creative content and exploring connections between Intellectual property law and new forms of property and culture through perspectives of creators and users.

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Gerard is a lecturer in medical law and ethics in the School of 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.

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Emmanuel is a Lecturer in International Intellectual Property Law.  His teaching and research focuses on international and comparative aspects of intellectual property law, and an examination of the relationship between intellectual property and human rights. He is also interested in analysing intellectual property rights in the context of business and human rights.

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The staff teaching on this programme are subject to change for 2020/21 and will depend on the core courses offered. 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 by online learning from our current and former students.

Andrejs, Latvia

Andrejs Afanasjevs talks about his experiences of studying the LLM in Intellectual Property Law by online distance learning over 20 months at Edinburgh Law School.

Contact us

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

Please note that we will not be accepting applications to the LLM in Intellectual Property Law by online learning for September 2022 or January 2023 entry.

Entry requirements

We require a minimum UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent. Your degree does not have to be in the subject of law, but it must be from a recognised higher education institution. We will also consider your other qualifications and professional experience as part of your application.

Entry to this programme is competitive. Meeting minimum requirements for consideration does not guarantee an offer of study.

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 (including Special Home Edition):  total 100 (at least 23 in each module).
    English requirements must be met in a single test. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 176 in each module).
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III (with a pass in all four components).
  • PTE(A): total 67 (at least 61 in each of the Communicative Skills sections).
    Please note that PTE Academic will no longer be accepted for entry to the University for any degree starting after 30 September 2020.
    Find out more

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

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). Where academic paperwork is not in English, certified translations must be provided (these must have been produced by a certified translator);
    Find out more about certified translations
  • Details of professional qualifications and any appropriate professional registrations.
  • 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. We may accept a non-academic reference from applicants who have been out of higher education for five years or more.
  • Evidence of English language proficiency, if required.
  • Personal statement - you will be asked to complete a personal statement (maximum 3500 characters - approximately 500 words) as part of your application. 
  • Relevant knowledge / skills - this may include details of any skills or voluntary work that you have undertaken that you feel are pertinent to the programme (maximum 3500 characters - approximately 500 words).

Your personal statement should show that you have thought carefully about why you are interested in this programme of study; what you can bring to the programme and what impact you feel it will have on your future career. Therefore, please ensure that you address the following questions in your statement:

  • What are your motivations for wanting to study this programme?
  • What skills, qualities and experiences have prepared you to undertake this programme?
  • What value do you think you can add to the learning community as part of an internationally diverse group?
  • What impact do you hope to make in your future career, and how will this programme contribute to your aspirations?

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

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

Find out more about applying to the University of Edinburgh

Applicants receiving an unconditional offer of admission to the LLM in Intellectual Property Law will be asked to pay a deposit of £1000 to secure their place on the programme

The deposit fee will be deducted from the first tuition fee instalment you have to pay and so enables you to spread the financial cost of the LLM.

January 2020 applicants

The deposit must be paid within 28 days of the date that the unconditional offer was made or by 29 November 2019, whichever is sooner.  

Find out more about our deposit policy

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