Europe's open societies and criminal justice: a challenging relationship 

Criminal justice systems face the challenges of internationalisation, digitalisation and European integration. National criminal justice systems have to interact with other areas of law, in particular administrative law, and with other legal orders. This is acutely evident in the European Union, where significant parts of national substantive and procedural criminal law have been brought within the scope of EU law-making. EU law and criminal law have entered into a dynamic interaction, which shapes and redefines their very foundations, principles and concepts. This is necessary to control crime and ensure due process at a national, EU and international level (UN, Council of Europe), but also to enforce EU policies and retain EU’s position as a global actor in the area of security and criminal justice. The protection of fundamental rights at both the EU level and national level is key to safeguard individual freedoms.

What does this master entail?

The Master in European Criminal Justice in a Global Context is an English-taught programme that offers its students the opportunity to:

  • be part of a compact international programme with excellent personal interaction between staff and students;
  • develop up-to-date, in-depth knowledge on the Europeanisation of criminal justice delivered through engaging and accessible high-quality courses;
  • develop oral skills by means of a variety of assignments, including moot courts, negotiation exercises, recording a knowledge clip and podcasts;
  • acquire a deeper understanding of topical legal issues through elective modules (Capita Selecta);
  • develop (academic) writing skills by writing research papers, a research proposal, master’s thesis and blog posts;
  • benefit from the extensive networks of our teaching staff, including contacts within national, European and international courts and organisations;
  • enjoy excursions to nearby EU institutions and agencies, and attend guest lectures from these organisations;
  • pursue further academic challenges through the LLM’s Honours Programme.

Watch the video of European Criminal Justice in a Global Context

Integrated criminal justice: opportunities and challenges

This LLM is an opportunity to dive deeper into the stimulating area of debate. A debate which is at the core of any criminal justice system. The programme links the national criminal justice systems of the EU Member States to EU criminal law, EU constitutional law, including fundamental rights law, and EU administrative law. It deepens your knowledge on EU criminal law. It analyses the interactions with the criminal justice systems of other EU Member States or third countries under new, innovative forms of enforcement cooperation, like the European Arrest Warrant. It examines the relationships of national criminal justice with the sharply increasing number of EU enforcement agencies, like the European Public Prosecutors Office and the European Central Bank.

We challenge our students to examine how criminal justice systems can adapt to the shifting and changing demands those systems face nowadays.

Content of the programme

The LLM in European Criminal Justice in a Global Context focuses on:

  • the constitutional foundations for criminal justice in a Europeanised setting, including the fundamental rights dimension and the harmonisation of defence rights and safeguards;
  • the effects and impact of EU law on domestic criminal justice and its relationships with administrative law enforcement in such areas as anti-money laundering, financial fraud and other serious cross-border offences;
  • the different legal regimes for transnational enforcement cooperation and exchange of information, including the European Arrest Warrant and European Investigation Order;
  • the relationships between national criminal justice and EU authorities such as Eurojust and the European Public Prosecutor’s Office;
  • the relationship between European criminal justice and its global context (external dimension).

Read more about the study programme.

Programme objectives

Participating in this programme at Utrecht University is an opportunity to:

  • gain profound knowledge of EU criminal law and its interaction with national criminal justice systems;
  • develop a solid understanding of the EU’s Area of Freedom, Security and Justice, as well as EU principles and concepts, such as harmonization of criminal law, mutual recognition, ne bis in idem principle, and privilege against self-incrimination;
  • understand the EU’s policy and legal instruments to combat cross-border crime on the one hand, and safeguard human rights on the other;
  • learn to navigate in the complex web of judicial cooperation in criminal matters;
  • prepare for legal practice and develop your oral and written presentation skills through a combination of Moot Courts, simulated negotiations, knowledge clips, podcasts and writing blog posts;
  • develop a critical, reflective stance, including the ability to give and receive feedback, also in societal debates.

Career prospects

This specialist Master’s programme is designed to prepare you for today’s dynamic, fast-changing and increasingly globalised legal environment. Read more about potential career opportunities at a national, European or international level.

The perfect location

Utrecht is more than just a well-established classical university town: it is a vibrant community where local Dutch history comes together with a cosmopolitan population and an active student network. Every year, students from all over the world find their way to Utrecht and enjoy the experience of a lifetime. Many relevant institutions in the area of European criminal justice are also close by, including Eurojust and Europol in The Hague, and several Brussels and Luxembourg based EU and international institutions.



Key facts

European Law
Language of instruction: 
Mode of study: 
Study duration: 
1 year
Tuition fees: 
Dutch and other EU/EEA students (statutory fee, full-time) 2023-2024: € 2,314

Non-EU/EEA students (institutional fee) 2023-2024: € 18,332

More information about fees
Croho code: 
Accredited by the NVAO
Law, Economics and Governance