Postgraduate Course

LLM International Humanitarian Law

LLM International Humanitarian Law

Overview

The details
International Humanitarian Law
October 2019
Full-time
1 year
Colchester Campus
Law (School of)

Situations of armed conflict and acute crisis affects the lives of millions of people globally. How does international law regulate the conduct of hostilities, and the protection of victims of conflict and acute crisis? What are the implications of developments like the so-called ‘war on terror’ and ‘migration crisis’ on the effectiveness of international law? Are the existing legal frameworks fit-for-purpose in responding to the challenges posed by new technologies such as automated weapons and cyber warfare?

In recent years, armed conflicts in Syria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Yemen, amongst others, have reminded us that the need to ensure respect for international law is as acute as ever.

Our LLM International Humanitarian Law has been designed to address situations such as these and provide you with the knowledge and skills to pursue or advance your career in fields related to legal regimes applicable to armed conflict and acute crisis situations. Emphasis is placed on understanding the practical application of the law. It is intended to ensure a balance between theory and practice, so that you are equipped to deal with real world situations.

You examine the legal regimes applicable to situations of armed conflict, and you develop a comprehensive understanding of:

  • the regulation of the conduct of hostilities
  • the protection of victims of armed conflict
  • the application of international human rights law in the context of armed conflict and acute crisis
  • the application of international criminal law and international refugee law in the context of armed conflict and acute crisis
  • addressing legal obligations and engagement of non-state actors

You also explore and debate some of the biggest contemporary challenges confronting the humanitarian sector today. This includes cutting-edge issues such as the legal challenges posed by new technologies and cyber warfare, as well as more traditional issues such as the protection of displaced persons during emergency situations.

At Essex we specialise in commercial law, public law, and human rights law. We are ranked among the top 200 departments in the QS World University Rankings (2019) and we are top 20 in the UK for research excellence (REF 2014, mainstream universities, THE 2014).

Why we're great.
  • We are top 20 in the UK for research excellence (REF 2014, mainstream universities, THE 2014)
  • Work with expert staff who have experience in UN human rights and development fields
  • We are the first university in the UK to sign a memorandum of understanding with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)
THE Awards 2018 - Winner University of the Year

Our expert staff

At Essex, our work has always been informed by the expertise of our academics, who are not only specialists in their fields, but have held – and continue to occupy – key positions in advising the Government and global NGOs on issues relating to human rights law and international humanitarian law.

You benefit from extensive research by our academics who lead this course:

  • Prof. Noam Lubell is widely published in the field of the law of armed conflict, as well as having experience working with NGOs and training for military and government. He has held numerous positions in the field, including Swiss Chair of IHL at the Geneva Academy, Rapporteur of the International Law Association's Committee on the Use of Force, and a Visiting Scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, working on legal and ethical implications of new technologies.
  • Prof. Geoff Gilbert holds, and has held, a number of positions advising governments and international organisations on human rights law throughout his career. He has published an extensive number of works and currently has specific research interests in international refugee law, extradition law, international criminal law, international humanitarian law, international human rights law and international minority rights law.
  • Dr Gus Waschefort has particular research interests in the law of armed conflict in Africa and has extensive experience working and researching within active conflict zones in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, South Sudan and Angola.
  • Dr Daragh Murray has published works such as ‘Human Rights Obligations of Non-State Armed Groups’ which is widely referenced in academia and the study of international law. Further research interests include counter-terrorism and the use of technology in surveillance.
  • Dr Carla Ferstman has worked as a criminal defence lawyer, before moving to United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Rwanda. Thereafter she worked for Amnesty International before joining REDRESS, serving as Director from 2004-2018. Dr Ferstman has published extensively and is a regular commentator on an array of human rights issues.

Our School of Law also includes former UN Special Rapporteurs, members of UN treaty bodies, the UK member of the UN Human Rights Committee and a member of the Government’s new Advisory Group on Human Rights. We are also advisers to a range of international organisations (like the OHCHR, UNHCR and WHO), as well as to NGOs around the world, and litigators before national courts, regional human rights commissions and courts, international courts and tribunals, and the UN treaty bodies.

Specialist facilities

  • Participate in various legal competitions to hone your debating, mediation and negotiation skills
  • Work on key human rights projects at our Human Rights Clinic
  • Network at our student-run Law Society, Human Rights Society, and Bar Society, which provides legal advice to the Commonwealth Students’ Association (CSA)
  • Our Essex Street Law project is one of the first of its kind and is the primary pro-bono project provided by our Law Society
  • Volunteer at the Essex Law Clinic where you can work alongside practicing solicitors to offer legal advice to clients
  • Join our Model United Nations society, which can improve your skills of argumentation, oral presentation and research
  • Take advantage of networking opportunities throughout the year with visiting law firms

We also offer a range of opportunities for working with projects associated with our Human Rights Centre:

Your future

Our School of Law graduates have gone on to a wide variety of careers in international and intergovernmental organisations or employment with governments across the world, in commerce and banking, in non-governmental organisations and, as might be expected, in the legal profession and the judiciary.

We are first university in the UK to sign a memorandum of understanding with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). This creates internship and research opportunities for our postgraduate students and is based on our long-established expertise in international humanitarian law.

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 human rights, 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 high 2.2 honours degree or above, or international equivalent in Law

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.

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English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall with a minimum component score of 5.5 except for 6.0 in writing

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.

Structure

Example structure

Postgraduate study is the chance to take your education to the next level. The combination of compulsory and optional modules means our courses help you develop extensive knowledge in your chosen discipline, whilst providing plenty of freedom to pursue your own interests. Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore to ensure your course is as relevant and up-to-date as possible your core module structure may be subject to change.

For many of our courses you’ll have a wide range of optional modules to choose from – those listed in this example structure are, in many instances, just a selection of those available. Our Programme Specification gives more detail about the structure available to our current postgraduate students, including details of all optional modules.

Dissertation: LLM International Humanitarian Law

You’ll undertake a dissertation of between 15,000-20,000 words in length for your LLM International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law course. This is a compulsory element of the course.

View Dissertation: LLM International Humanitarian Law on our Module Directory

International Law of Armed Conflict

How can international law protect vulnerable groups during times of armed conflict? And can it be improved? Build knowledge of international law by examining the rules and legal classifications of armed conflict. Evaluate how international law tries to prevent and punish violations. Gain practical experience by studying real-life examples.

View International Law of Armed Conflict on our Module Directory

Current Challenges in the Law of Armed Conflict

How do you protect the environment during armed conflict? What role does the media play in conflict situations? What are the implications of asymmetric warfare? Undertake in-depth analysis of problems associated with armed conflict. Examine real-life issues that interest you, to see how different laws, institutions and competing interests combine.

View Current Challenges in the Law of Armed Conflict on our Module Directory

The Protection of Human Rights in Armed Conflict and Situations of Acute Crisis
European Union Law and Human Rights (optional)

What impact does EU law have on human rights? What are the human rights aspects of EU rules for asylum and immigration? Examine the agreement on EU accession to the European Convention on Human Rights. Understand the scope and content of the EU’s own Charter of Fundamental Rights.

View European Union Law and Human Rights (optional) on our Module Directory

International Criminal Law (optional)

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 (optional) on our Module Directory

Conflict and the UN: Law Relating to the Use of Force, Peacekeeping, Sanctions & Counter Terrorism (optional)

How does public international law apply to peace and field operations? What about international human rights law? Or the international law of armed conflict? Understand the institutional law of the United Nations. Examine foundational legal aspects of peace operations, as well as key unresolved legal issues.

View Conflict and the UN: Law Relating to the Use of Force, Peacekeeping, Sanctions & Counter Terrorism (optional) on our Module Directory

Acute Crises and Displacement (optional)

Most displaced persons in the world are part of a mass displacement that may or may not cross an international border which has important consequences for the legal framework of protection. In this module you will look at the protection offered by international law to those displaced in time of acute crisis.

View Acute Crises and Displacement (optional) on our Module Directory

Public International Law (optional)

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

View Public International Law (optional) on our Module Directory

The Protection of Refugees and Displaced Persons in International Law (optional)

What protection does international law offer refugees and internally displaced persons? Examine legal definitions of refugee status. Understand the guarantees provided for such groups by international human rights law. Evaluate the limitations of such laws by states in Europe and North America.

View The Protection of Refugees and Displaced Persons in International Law (optional) on our Module Directory

International Child Law (optional)

In the past decade there has been a range of initiatives by organisations to strengthen the international legal protection of children's rights. In this module you’ll receive an overview of the international law on the rights of the child and will be introduced to some of the current issues and debates. You’ll also gain an understanding of the political, social and economic contexts in which children's rights are violated.

View International Child Law (optional) on our Module Directory

European Convention on Human Rights I (optional)

What are the achievements of the European Convention on Human Rights? What are the challenges that it now faces? And the constraints? Examine the history of the Convention. Explore how the focus and methodology of the Court is now changing. Address the key states of the litigation of a case.

View European Convention on Human Rights I (optional) on our Module Directory

The Protection of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples in International Law (optional)

You’ll look at how minorities and indigenous peoples are protected in international human rights law by considering the rights that have been established, the jurisprudence that has been developed and the mechanisms for implementation. You’ll receive the opportunity to reflect on the contrasting regimes that focus on the individual rights accorded members of minorities and the collective rights recognised for indigenous peoples. You’ll study the contemporary challenges relating to political participation, conflict, development, climate change and other matters that affect minorities and indigenous peoples.

View The Protection of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples in International Law (optional) on our Module Directory

Human Rights and Development (optional)

What does right to development mean? How does it relate to human rights treaties? What is a human rights-based approach to development? Study international human rights law, exploring theoretical and practical implications of linking human rights and development. Analyse specific human rights themes. Evaluate the role of governments and organisations.

View Human Rights and Development (optional) on our Module Directory

International Trade, Investment and Human Rights. (optional)

What are the global standards set by the GATT/World Trade Organisation? And by World Bank policies? Examine relationships between human rights, international trade and foreign investment. Study legal issues, plus ethical, political and economic arguments on current topics. Evaluate cases to see the practical effect of linking trade and rights.

View International Trade, Investment and Human Rights. (optional) on our Module Directory

Human Rights and Women (optional)

You’ll receive an introduction to the protection and promotion of women’s and girls’ human rights under international law. Your focus will be on the universal human rights mechanisms, with some analysis of regional human rights mechanisms, especially relating to violence against women. You’ll consider sexual and reproductive rights, economic, social and cultural rights, administration of justice, women’s rights in conflict and post-conflict, and violence against women. You’ll also look at the persistence of gender stereotyping, theories of equality and discrimination, and the efforts of human rights defenders.

View Human Rights and Women (optional) on our Module Directory

Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in Africa (optional)

In this module you’ll critically examine the promotion and protection of human rights from the perspective of African political and human rights institutions. Topics you’ll cover include: human rights in Africa; the Organisation of African Unity and African Union; the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights; other African human rights treaties; African states within the UN; domestic protection of human rights; and women's rights.

View Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in Africa (optional) on our Module Directory

The Inter-American System of Human Rights (optional)

In this module you’ll study the work carried out by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court, which are usually referred to as the two bodies of the Inter-American System. In particular you’ll study the rights to life, humane treatment, personal liberty, fair trial, judicial guarantees, indigenous rights, violence against women, non-discrimination and equality, socio-economic rights, and the right to reparation. Films and guest speakers will enhance your understanding of the achievements, challenges and impact of the System.

View The Inter-American System of Human Rights (optional) on our Module Directory

Business and Human Rights (optional)

What are the human rights responsibilities of private companies? And what about public or private institutions financing projects aimed at world development? Evaluate principles regulating human rights and examine how they contrast with principles regulating multinational commercial interests. Consider real-life cases from both national and international courts.

View Business and Human Rights (optional) on our Module Directory

Transitional Justice (optional)

Broadly speaking transitional justice refers to the belief that any State where mass atrocities have taken place should engage with a set of judicial and non-judicial processes in order to achieve a successful transition from conflict to peace or repression to democracy. You’ll receive an overview of the history, theory, legal background and dilemmas of transitional justice, followed by in-depth discussions of the four pillars of transitional justice – truth, justice, reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence, and of their interrelatedness.

View Transitional Justice (optional) on our Module Directory

Human Rights Clinic (optional)

Want to work as a human rights professional? Using the UN human rights mechanisms, learn the essential skills to become a human rights practitioner. Apply this knowledge practically through engagement with projects by our Human Rights Centre Clinic.

View Human Rights Clinic (optional) on our Module Directory

Religion and Human Rights (optional)

How do Islamic legal traditions impact on international human rights discourse? And on Muslim state practice? Study the debates surrounding Islam and universal human rights. Examine the diversity of perspectives surrounding human rights in Islamic thought and practice. Develop the tools for cross-cultural understanding and engagement.

View Religion and Human Rights (optional) on our Module Directory

Human Rights, International Relations and Diplomacy (optional)

How does the international system enhance the advancement of human rights? And how does it constrain it? Study the international system and its influence on human rights. Examine the role of foreign policy instruments in promoting human rights. Analyse how human rights can advance foreign policy goals by states.

View Human Rights, International Relations and Diplomacy (optional) on our Module Directory

The Morality and Politics of International Human Rights (optional)
Language Rights (optional)

From a human rights perspective, what kinds of conflicts occur around languages? Are there linguistic human rights? What are they? How do governments, lawmakers, schools, courts and international organisations identify and treat language problems? Can language planners and policymakers address conflicts involving indigenous peoples, national minorities, ethnic or racial groups?

View Language Rights (optional) on our Module Directory

Teaching

  • Mainly taught through seminars, supplemented by lectures where appropriate
  • Teaching also includes scenario-based tutorials, that focus on the application of the law to specific situations
  • You are taught in small groups
  • Postgraduates are welcome to participate in and present their work at our popular School Seminar Series

Assessment

  • Virtually all your modules are assessed by a combination of essays, take-home examinations or 100% coursework

Dissertation

  • Your dissertation is normally between 15,000-20,000 words in length
  • It is a compulsory component of our LLM courses
  • Supervision and guidance is given

Fees and funding

Home/EU fee

£7,940

International fee

£17,040

Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

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 tours@essex.ac.uk and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

2019 Open Days (Colchester Campus)

  • Saturday, June 15, 2019
  • Saturday, September 21, 2019
  • Saturday, October 26, 2019

Applying

You can apply for our postgraduate courses online. You’ll need to provide us with your academic qualifications, as well as supporting documents such as transcripts, English language qualifications and certificates. You can find a list of necessary documents online, but please note we won’t be able to process your application until we have everything we need.

Colchester Campus

Visit Colchester Campus

Home to over 13,000 students from more than 130 countries, our Colchester Campus is the largest of our three sites, making us one of the most internationally diverse campuses on the planet - we like to think of ourselves as the world in one place.

The Campus is set within 200 acres of beautiful parkland, located two miles from the historic town centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded town. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.

 

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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.

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