Postgraduate Course

LLM International Criminal Law

LLM International Criminal Law


The details
International Criminal Law
October 2024
1 year
Colchester Campus
Essex Law School

Every day we hear about new atrocities and mass crimes in all parts of the world. Increasingly, efforts are underway to ensure that the perpetrators of these acts are brought to justice.

The LLM International Criminal Law provides students with a concentrated opportunity to study with leading experts with both practice-based and academic expertise in International Criminal Law. Students will study all facets of issues pertaining to achieving international justice and preventing impunity, across a wide range of specialist modules covering substantive and procedural aspects of international criminal law, and transnational criminal law.

The field of International Criminal Law, with its historical antecedents in the Nuremberg Tribunal and the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, both established at the end of the Second World War, has been fundamentally transformed in recent decades with the establishment of the International Criminal Court, the creation of numerous ad hoc and specialised tribunals to address mass crimes in a variety of countries including Cambodia, Sierra Leone, the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and the resort to international crimes prosecutions by national courts around the world.

These proceedings continue to be practically and procedurally challenging to pursue. They are also politically sensitive, both domestically, regionally and internationally, and involve crucial debates about the appropriate placement of justice in international peace and security. Yet international criminal law proceedings are crucial avenues to justice for victims and important tools to end impunity for some of the worst crimes the world has experienced.

As a student of the LLM International Criminal Law, you will have the opportunity to become technically capable in this area and to enhance your analytical, communication and advocacy skills needed to operate effectively in the specialist field of International Criminal Law. You will learn about the different actors involved in international criminal law proceedings, and how they interact in the different phases of a case. You will learn about professional ethics and fair trial considerations as they apply to international criminal law proceedings and will gain experience of crafting legal arguments. You will also learn about evidentiary matters, and in particular what evidence is required to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that a particular international crime has taken place.

Throughout the degree you will have the opportunity to study key areas, including the substantive contents of international criminal law as well as a practice-based module on international criminal law advocacy and litigation. In this way, you will learn about litigating grave international crimes, both from a legal and procedural perspective. As part of the degree, you will also be required to research and write a dissertation on a topic linked to International Criminal Law. The dissertation is normally between 12-15,000 words. Supervision and guidance are provided.

Students will also have the opportunity to consider how the legal principles interact with wider historical, political, philosophical, sociological approaches. Students will also benefit from the Law School's wider offerings in other relevant subjects, including human rights law, international humanitarian law, transitional justice, and public international law. Therefore, you will be able to tailor your LLM to your own specific interests and requirements.

The degree will develop your intellectual and critical faculties, encourage you to think independently and teach you to present rational, coherent and accurate arguments orally and in writing. It will provide you with an excellent foundation for a wide range of careers.

This course is also available on a part-time basis (24 months). Please note that any students who require sponsorship for a Student visa to study in the UK will not be able to undertake the part-time course, in accordance with Home Office regulations.

Why we're great.
  • Tailor your LLM to your own specific interests and requirements.
  • We are ranked 3rd in the UK for research power in Law (THE research power measure, REF2021) and are 47th for Law in the THE World University Rankings (2023).
  • Indulge in research-led teaching and explore the latest breakthroughs in the field.

Our expert staff

Our internationally diverse community of staff and students gives us a breadth of cross-cultural perspectives and insights into law and justice around the world. This community ensures you graduate with a genuine worldview and a network of international contacts.

Dr Antonio Coco is the Co-Chair of the Journal of International Criminal Justice's Editorial Committee, and a member of the Expert Group on 'Mens Rea' for the research project 'Rethinking Secondary Liability for International Crimes' at the University of Amsterdam. He also previously worked with the Chambers of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. He has published extensively on International Criminal Law issues and in 2022 published his monograph: The Defence of Mistake of Law in International Criminal Law: A Study on Ignorance and Blame (Oxford University Press).

Prof Carla Ferstman worked on justice system strengthening with the UN mission in Rwanda in the immediate aftermath of the 1994 genocide, on mass displacement in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and more recently as a judge on the Aban People's Tribunal, which considered mass crackdowns on protesters in Iran as crimes against humanity. As former Director of the international NGO REDRESS, she worked globally on universal jurisdiction cases, and provided support to international courts and tribunals and parties to proceedings to strengthen their work on victims' rights and reparation, including at the International Criminal Court, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, and the Extraordinary African Chambers.

Prof Geoff Gilbert is Sérgio Vieira de Mello Professor of International Human Rights & Humanitarian Law and an expert on refugee law and displacement, as well as on issues related to transnational criminal law, extradition and surrender and the applicability of exclusion clauses under Art 1(f) of the Refugee Convention.

Dr Matthew Gillett prosecuted war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide cases in The Hague at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and at the International Criminal Court. He has conducted investigations and missions in war zones including Afghanistan (2016), Ukraine (2022), and the Central African Republic (2017-2020). His has written widely on international criminal law, speech crimes, digital evidence, and environmental protection, including a monograph titled "Prosecuting Environmental Harm before the International Criminal Court" (Cambridge University Press, 2022).

Dr Marija Jovanovic is an expert in international human rights law with specialisation in human trafficking and modern slavery and she has carried out research and policy work in these areas. She has also published extensively, including her 2023 monograph: State Responsibility for Modern Slavery in Human Rights Law A Right Not to Be Trafficked (Oxford University Press).

Dr Ebba Lekvall researches in the areas of transitional justice, indigenous rights and international criminal law. She previously served as a law clerk in the Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, where she assisted with the Stanisic and Zupljanin judgments and in the pre-trial phase of the Hadzic case. She also clerked at the International Criminal Court, Office of the Prosecutor, Jurisdiction, Complementarity and Cooperation Division, Situation Analysis Section. She has co-written (with Martinsson, D), “The Mens Rea Element of Intent in the Context of International Criminal Trials in Sweden” (2020) Scandinavian Studies in Law.

Dr Marina Lostal specializes in the areas of victim rights, reparations, and the protection of non-human entities (i.e. heritage, environment and animals). She was appointed expert by the International Criminal Court in the reparations phase of the Al Mahdi case in 2017, and then worked as a consultant for the Trust Fund for Victims of the ICC in the implementation of reparations in several cases. She has consulted for other organisations, such as UNESCO, Geneva Call and the Colombian Special Jurisdiction for Peace. Her two most important publications in the field are a book entitled International Cultural Heritage Law in Armed Conflict, published by Cambridge University Press, and a co-authored practitioner's guide to the chapeau elements of crimes against humanity, published by the Case Matrix Network.

Dr Meagan Wong has advised States on issues pertaining to immunities of state officials and technical drafting of domestic legislation in relation to the incorporation of international law. Notably, she participated in a session of the Assembly of States Parties to the ICC Statute as an accredited Advisor to a government delegation on matters pertaining to the ratification and implementation of the amendments concerning the crime of aggression. She has published extensively on the crime of aggression and is the author of a forthcoming monograph with Cambridge University Press, entitled Responsibility of States and Individuals: Aggression and the International Criminal Court.

Specialist facilities

  • Volunteer at the Digital Investigations Unit, where you can carry out pathbreaking investigations on mass crimes for bodies like the UN Commission of Inquiry for Ukraine, the ICC and Amnesty International
  • Participate in mooting competitions to develop your skills
  • Take advantage of networking opportunities throughout the year with visiting practitioners and academics

Your future

  • Essex Law School LLM graduates have gone on to a wide variety of careers in international and intergovernmental organisations or employment with governments across the world, in non-governmental organisations and, as might be expected, in the legal profession and the judiciary.
  • During the year, we hold a careers session for our students in which we reflect upon our own careers and how they have been built as well as those from former students. We are always available to discuss career options and if you are interested in a particular area of the law, we can link you up with the relevant alumni to offer advice.
  • We also work with the university's Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

A 2:2 Degree in Law or a joint honours Degree in another subject with Law.

Applicants who do not hold a Law Degree but who have at least six months of relevant professional experience, traineeships, or professional qualifications/certifications issued by professional bodies such as Bar Associations can apply and will be considered. Please provide your CV.

International & EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

Sorry, the entry requirements for the country that you have selected are not available here. Please contact our Graduate Admissions team at to request the entry requirements for this country.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, we require IELTS 6.5 overall with a minimum component score of 6.0 in writing and 5.5 in all other components.

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

Additional Notes

The University uses academic selection criteria to determine an applicant’s ability to successfully complete a course at the University of Essex. Where appropriate, we may ask for specific information relating to previous modules studied or work experience.


Course structure

We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of core/compulsory modules, and optional modules chosen from lists.

Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The course content is therefore reviewed on an annual basis to ensure our courses remain up-to-date so modules listed are subject to change.

We understand that deciding where and what to study is a very important decision for you. We'll make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities as described on our website and in line with your contract with us. However, if we need to make material changes, for example due to significant disruption, we'll let our applicants and students know as soon as possible.

Components and modules explained


Components are the blocks of study that make up your course. A component may have a set module which you must study, or a number of modules from which you can choose.

Each component has a status and carries a certain number of credits towards your qualification.

Status What this means
You must take the set module for this component and you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component but you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
You must take the set module for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Compulsory with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.

The modules that are available for you to choose for each component will depend on several factors, including which modules you have chosen for other components, which modules you have completed in previous years of your course, and which term the module is taught in.


Modules are the individual units of study for your course. Each module has its own set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria and also carries a certain number of credits.

In most cases you will study one module per component, but in some cases you may need to study more than one module. For example, a 30-credit component may comprise of either one 30-credit module, or two 15-credit modules, depending on the options available.

Modules may be taught at different times of the year and by a different department or school to the one your course is primarily based in. You can find this information from the module code. For example, the module code HR100-4-FY means:

HR 100  4  FY

The department or school the module will be taught by.

In this example, the module would be taught by the Department of History.

The module number. 

The UK academic level of the module.

A standard undergraduate course will comprise of level 4, 5 and 6 modules - increasing as you progress through the course.

A standard postgraduate taught course will comprise of level 7 modules.

A postgraduate research degree is a level 8 qualification.

The term the module will be taught in.

  • AU: Autumn term
  • SP: Spring term
  • SU: Summer term
  • FY: Full year 
  • AP: Autumn and Spring terms
  • PS: Spring and Summer terms
  • AS: Autumn and Summer terms


Dissertation – International Criminal Law

The dissertation is an independent and research-led piece of work under the guidance of an academic supervisor. You will undertake an individual research programme and apply appropriate methodologies on a topic within the scope of the LLM International Criminal Law course. The topic will be approved by your academic supervisor and the postgraduate taught director, and provides an opportunity to develop and display an extensive knowledge of the law and, drawing on applicable legislation, case law and scholarly works, to engage in critical evaluation and analysis of relevant legal issues.

View Dissertation – International Criminal Law on our Module Directory


International Criminal Law

How does international criminal law deal with terrorism? Or with genocide and crimes against humanity? What role does the International Criminal Court play? Study international criminal law and the principles of jurisdiction. Analyse the idea of state criminal responsibility. Build knowledge of human rights in relation to international criminal law.

View International Criminal Law on our Module Directory


International Criminal Law 2: Advocacy and Litigation

This module equips students with a well-developed understanding of the procedural aspects of international criminal law and imparts practical legal and advocacy skills and techniques to them which they can use in international criminal proceedings or similar professional settings. The module provides an in-depth overview of how international criminal law proceedings are initiated as well as their trajectory from the earliest phases to the ultimate conclusion of a case (including the conduct of investigations, arrest warrants, pre-trial, trial, appeal proceedings, sentencing and reparations). It canvasses the different roles of the prosecution, defence, victims, states, and the judiciary in such proceedings and provides a detailed analysis of the different legal and policy issues that arise throughout the proceedings and how these are addressed before international criminal courts and tribunals. Significantly, students will participate in practical exercises such as witness examination and/or cross-examination, and orally presenting legal arguments. Through this experiential learning, they will practice putting their knowledge into effect and gain confidence implementing professional skills. The module is taught by specialists in procedural law, who have experience in the practice of law and advocacy before institutions and courts applying international criminal law.

View International Criminal Law 2: Advocacy and Litigation on our Module Directory


Public International Law

What does it mean to be an international lawyer? Understand the founding principles of international law. Apply the tools and techniques of legal reasoning to the international legal system. Understand how the system of international law works and form your own views through discussions of contemporary issues.

View Public International Law on our Module Directory


Option(s) from list


Option(s) from list


Option(s) from list


Postgraduate students in Essex Law School usually attend two-hour workshops, or a one-hour lecture and one-hour seminar for each module each week.

  • Taught through small-group interactive seminars that foster critical debate and analysis
  • Teaching is supplemented by lectures, where appropriate
  • Postgraduates are welcome to join the numerous guest lectures held at the School yearly


Modules are assessed via coursework (which may be comprised of in-class exercises, essays, legal drafting or problem-solving assignments), an examination, or a combination of the two.


  • Your dissertation is normally 12,000 words in length
  • You will have the freedom to select your own dissertation topic
  • A special dissertation module that offers guidance on topic selection and the writing process, as well as one-to-one supervision given from a member of academic staff

Fees and funding

Home/UK fee


International fee


What's next

Open Days

We hold Open Days for all our applicants throughout the year. Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex, and give you the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
  • meet our students and staff

If the dates of our organised events aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

2024 Open Days (Colchester Campus)

  • Saturday 15 June 2024 - June Open Day
  • Saturday 21 September 2024 - September Open Day
  • Saturday 26 October 2024 - October Open Day


You can apply for this postgraduate course online. Before you apply, please check our information about necessary documents that we'll ask you to provide as part of your application.

We aim to respond to applications within two weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.

For information on our deadline to apply for this course, please see our ‘how to apply' information.

You will need to provide a copy of your CV with your application.

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Visit Colchester Campus

Set within 200 acres of award-winning parkland - Wivenhoe Park and located two miles from the historic city centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded development. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.

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Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.

At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.

Find out more

The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications. The University would inform and engage with you if your course was to be discontinued, and would provide you with options, where appropriate, in line with our Compensation and Refund Policy.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.

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