Below, you will find the courses in the LLM in Public International Law programme.

Compulsory courses

General Course in Public International Law (compulsory)

The course will address the general tenets and rules of public international law: the sources of international law, law of treaties, subjects, territory, jurisdiction, state responsibility, international institutions, and settlement of disputes. Also, an “external” perspective on public international law will be introduced in order to analyze the role of international law in international relations.
This compulsory course for the participants in the master program in public international law provides a general and thorough overview of public international law in order to ensure that all participants have adequate knowledge and understanding of the general tenets and rules of international law and can make the most of other compulsory and elective courses in the program.

Place of the course within the curriculum:

  • Compulsory course in the major of the master Public International Law

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International Law Moot Court (compulsory)

The Moot Court course is designed to offer students with a good basic knowledge of public international law the opportunity to deepen their knowledge through the in-depth and active study of a specific area, problem or current development in public international law.
The emphasis in the course is upon the active participation of the student.
Students are expected in teams of two – or individually - to “act” as counsel in an actual case pending before the International Court of Justice, Arbitral Tribunal, or a human rights dispute settlement mechanism.
During the course, students will improve both their knowledge and their legal skills in public international law by preparing written memorials, and presenting and defending these orally, as well as by discussing the papers and presentations of their colleagues.
The teaching method used in this course consists of a combination of introductory lectures during the first two weeks of the course, and eight seminar sessions for the oral pleadings and discussions during the last four weeks of the course.

Lectures (plenary meetings)

The first introductory lecture will introduce the students to the structure of the course, and a general analysis is provided plus discussion of the four cases. During the second plenary meeting, the cases will be assigned to the participants (formation of teams) and the work will be divided between the members of the teams. During the third plenary meeting, general instructions on writing the memorials and preparing for the oral pleadings will be given. The fourth plenary meeting is a guest lecture.

Oral pleading sessions (Seminars)

At the second plenary lecture, the participants will be divided into smaller groups for the remainder of the course (the oral pleading sessions). These groups are not the same as the groups mentioned in Osiris. For each case there will be a team representing the Applicant State (team A) and a team representing the Respondent State (team R). Each team will consist of one or two students.
The first two weeks (four meetings in total) will be used to practice the oral pleadings, under the supervision of the working group instructor. During the last two weeks (four meetings in total), the team members of the applicants and respondents will present their oral arguments in two rounds. The judges will interrupt them and ask questions.

As a replacement of this course, a limited number of selected students (about eight) can participate in, and draft memorials for an international moot court competition (Jessup International Law Moot Court and Telders International Law Moot Court). They will receive coaching from UU staff.

Place of this course within the curriculum:

  • Compulsory course in master Public International Law

Capita Selecta IIPM (compulsory)


In ‘Selected Topics of Public International Law’, students will acquire an in-depth understanding of a number of topical issues in public international law. They will also write the research proposal for their master’s thesis. The course consists of six modules, one of which is the (compulsory) methodological/master’s thesis trajectory module (OST).  Students have to choose five other modules out of a range of modules offered (in principle 12).The modules offered cover issues of general international law and issues pertaining to the specialized tracks (human rights, environment, law of the sea). Students are free to choose any module, subject however to place constraints.


In this course, students familiarize themselves in a short time-span with current topics and challenges that only received a rudimentary treatment in the General Course and in the courses of the specialized tracks. The modules offered relate to on-going research carried out by the lecturers (research-based teaching). The modules will draw attention to the wider political, social and economic context in which international norms are generated, applied, and enforced.


The different modules enable students to acquire different skills. In the thesis module, they will learn how to write a convincing research proposal and will further familiarize themselves with legal-scientific methods. In the other modules they will acquire, or further develop, such different skills as analysing case-law, conducting negotiations, writing memoranda, presenting findings, orally defending arguments in moot court settings, and giving feedback to other students’ work.


The modules we offered during the 2017-18 academic year include:

  • International Humanitarian Law
  • International Security Law
  • Transitional Justice in Post-Conflict Societies
  • Cultural Defence in International Criminal Law
  • The Impact of the International Law of the Sea on State Behaviour
  • International Water Law
  • Irregular Migration by Sea from the law of the Sea Perspective
  • Compulsory Jurisdiction of International Courts and Tribunals
  • International Law of Climate Change 
  • Transnational Corporations and Human Rights
  • Human Rights and International Refugee Law
  • Equality and Non-Discrimination in International Human Rights Law
  • Human Rights and the Environment
  • EU External Affairs and International Trade

The Capita Selecta modules we offer vary from year to year.

Research and Thesis Trajectory Public International Law (compulsory)

The thesis crowns the master program. It is an individual legal research project carried out under the supervision of a lecturer. The thesis is evaluated by this supervisor and a second reader.
Students start preparing their thesis from the very start of the programme, so as to maximize the chances of a successful outcome. To this effect, a research-based masters thesis trajectory (OST) will be organized from period 1 onwards. This OST involves the organization of classes on methodology and writing, and the forming of peer groups that allow students to fine-tune their problem statement, research question(s), and approach (periods 1-2). The OST is partly integrated as a module in the capita selecta course; in this module, the student has to produce a research proposal for which (s)he receives a pass/fail grade (period 3). Building on the research proposal, students draft their master's thesis and complete it before the submission deadline prescribed in the Department's regulation.
The thesis must be written in English. The thesis should be between 12.500 and 20.000 words.The thesis will be assessed and graded on the basis of its contents (research question, argumentation, structure, legal content) and lay-out (style and general presentation, including clarity of the text, language and grammar). The assessment also takes dedication and independence into consideration. The final version of the thesis will also be assessed by a second lecturer. The supervisor will determine the final grade after consulting the second lecturer.

Specialisation: Oceans, the Environment and Sustainability

International Law of the Sea

Oceans are essential for maintaining life on earth, their resources are increasingly important to the world economy and 80% of all international trade is seaborne. The oceans are also the stage of significant international disputes between States (e.g., the South China Sea case) and many transnational illicit activities (e.g., illegal fishing, drug trafficking, people smuggling, etc.) take place at sea. Moreover, the oceans are heavily impacted by climate change, both in terms of their environment and uses, and by pollution. The oceans are also key in finding solutions to and managing the consequences of climate change.
Creating an effective governance and regulatory regime for the oceans continues to be a challenge for the international community. The current regime for the oceans is built on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982 (UNCLOS). This framework convention divides the oceans in various coastal state maritime zones and international areas. In all these areas the legal regime seeks to maintain a balance between the rights, interests and obligations of individual coastal states and the international community’s interests. The course sets out the legal regime applicable to the oceans, how an effective governance system is taking shape through international cooperation, and how disputes over ocean resources are to be managed. The course will not only look at the UNCLOS but will also identify and discuss the role of other global and regional instruments and bodies. After a series of lectures on these topics, the students will be given the opportunity to focus on a specific topic by writing and presenting a paper.

Place of the course within the curriculum:

  • Compulsory course in the specialization Oceans, the Environment and Sustainability

International Environmental Law

Our planet is faced with many environmental problems that can only be solved through international cooperation. Climate change, the loss of biodiversity, air pollution, the degradation of the oceans and its living resources, ozone depletion, and hazardous economic activities are only a few examples of environmental issues that are addressed by international environmental law.
The course starts with a general introduction into the subject and then continues with a series of lectures addressing specific environmental issues of international concern. The general introduction covers the historical development and main sources of international environmental law, and key actors. It also covers the most important general rules and principles of international environmental law and the concept of sustainable development. The course then focuses on several substantive issues and the associated multilateral environmental agreements and/or applicable rules of customary international law. These issues include the protection of the atmosphere (air pollution, ozone depletion and climate change), international watercourses, the oceans, biodiversity and nature conservation. The course will then also address several horizontal issues including responsibility and liability for environmental damage and the particularities of the process of law-enforcement in this field. The last weeks of the course concentrate on the international environmental law in context, namely on how international environmental law interacts with human rights, international economic law, and international peace and security law. The aim of these last weeks is to show how effectively tackling some of the most pressing issues, such as climate change, and achieving the sustainable management of the Earth’s resources require the simultaneous application, and thus interaction, of all relevant fields of international law.
The course is designed to provide students with firsthand experience of international environmental law in practice. The lectures are then combined with reality-based simulations, guest lectures by experts and excursions to the relevant international bodies (e.g., the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons).

Place of the course within the curriculum:

  • Compulsory course in the track Oceans, the Environment and Sustainability

Specialisation: Human Rights

Human Rights I: Principles and Institutions

This course is designed for students interested in international law, human rights, international studies, international politics and international development. The first part of the course focuses on the major features of international human rights law as part and parcel of general international law. It begins by examining the philosophical and political bases for the international human rights movement. It addresses issues such as the foundations of human rights law, the sources of human rights, the question of universality of human rights and different types of state obligations and issues of state responsibility. The second part of the course explores the international, regional and domestic monitoring mechanisms established for the promotion and protection of human. It pays particular attention to the UN system and the regional human rights systems in Europe, Africa, the America’s and Asia.

The course emphasizes the social and academic context of international human rights by focusing on topical and relevant developments as well as current academic debates within the field. Students are expected to read all assigned material, attend and prepare for all classes and take an active part in discussions. The class encourages diversity of opinion and respect for differing views. The course’s overall aim is to provide students with a strong understanding of the human rights system and its challenges so that in the course Human Rights II: Substantive Rights students can delve deeper into the case law of various substantive rights.

Place of the course in the curriculum:

  • Compulsory course in the specialisation 'Human Rights'

Human Rights II: Substantive Rights

This course is designed for students interested in international studies, international law, human rights, peace and conflict resolution, international politics and international development who have taken Human Rights I: Procedures and Institutions. The major part of this course will deal with substantive rights, related to both civil and political rights, and economic, social and cultural rights. Also the distinction between absolute and relative rights will be discussed, and in this context the system of limitations will be introduced and explored. The course will also explore a number of relevant current developments and challenges in regard to the protection under international human rights law, for example non State actors and armed conflict.
Place of the course in the curriculum:

  • Compulsory course in the specialisation 'Human Rights'


A cohesive pair of two courses selected from one of the following Master’s programmes:

  • Constitutional and Administrative Law (Dutch programme)
  • Corporate Law (Dutch programme)
  • Criminal Law (Dutch programme)
  • European Law
  • Private Law (Dutch programme)