Postgraduate Course

LLM International Humanitarian Law

LLM International Humanitarian Law

Overview

The details
International Humanitarian Law
October 2022
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.

There are a range of fellowships and bursaries available for LLM study. Please see our Fees and Funding pages for more information.

At Essex, we specialise in business law, public law, criminal justice, health law, law and technology, socio-legal studies and human rights law. We are ranked 51st in the THE World University Rankings 2021 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)
  • 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 Careers Services to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities. Take a look at our dedicated careers pages for Law and Human Rights.

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

A 2:2 honours degree, or international equivalent, in a Social Science, Law or any Humanities subject.

While prior academic study or professional experience of law is desirable, it is not a requirement for admission. LLM students who have not previously studied Public International Law will take a one-term module on this topic.

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 select your country page where you'll find this information.

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

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.

Teaching and learning disclaimer

Following the impact of the pandemic, we made changes to our teaching and assessment to ensure our current students could continue with their studies uninterrupted and safely. These changes included courses being taught through blended delivery, normally including some face-to-face teaching, online provision, or a combination of both across the year.

The teaching and assessment methods listed show what is currently approved for 2022 entry; changes may be necessary if, by the beginning of this course, we need to adapt the way we’re delivering them due to the external environment, and to allow you to continue to receive the best education possible safely and seamlessly.

Components and modules explained

Components

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
Core
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.
Compulsory
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.
Optional
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

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

COMPONENT 01: COMPULSORY

Dissertation
(60 CREDITS)

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

View Dissertation on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 02: COMPULSORY

The Protection of Human Rights in Armed Conflict and Situations of Acute Crisis
(15 CREDITS)

This module is intended to provide students with an understanding of international human rights law and international human rights mechanisms. There is an explicit focus on how human rights apply during times of armed conflict and acute crisis, and the module is structured to ensure that students are exposed to the issues arising when human rights are applied in practice.

View The Protection of Human Rights in Armed Conflict and Situations of Acute Crisis on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 03: COMPULSORY

International Law of Armed Conflict
(15 CREDITS)

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

COMPONENT 04: COMPULSORY

Current Challenges in the Law of Armed Conflict
(15 CREDITS)

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

COMPONENT 05: OPTIONAL

Option(s) from list
(30 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 06: OPTIONAL

Option(s) from list
(30 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 07: COMPULSORY

Public International Law
(15 CREDITS)

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 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 12,000 words in length
  • It is an opportunity for one-to-one supervision with one of our many human right experts
  • It is a compulsory component of our LLM courses
  • Supervision and guidance is given

Fees and funding

Home/UK fee

£9,200

International fee

£19,740

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.

2021 Open Days (Colchester Campus)

  • Saturday, October 23, 2021
  • Saturday, November 13, 2021

Applying

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.

Colchester Campus

Visit Colchester Campus

Home to 15,000 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.

 

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.

Exhibitions

Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.

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 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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