The SOAS MA in International Law provides a diverse and unique range of courses that interrogate critically the theory and practice of international law and explore cutting edge topics of contemporary significance particularly as they relate to the global south: refugee law and the migrant crisis; climate change and natural resources; the rights of women; gender and armed conflict; international criminal law; the law of armed conflict; multinational enterprises and human rights; sustainable development; and conflict resolution, peace-building and transitional justice.
At SOAS you will not only gain fresh insights into the fundamentals of international law; you will have the opportunity to engage with issues that reflect the research specialisms of our expert teaching staff.
How Do We Teach? How Do You Learn?
The MA in international law adopts an innovative, interdisciplinary, and critical approach to teaching and learning that draws on the wider international community of academics, legal practitioners and NGOs both in London and internationally. The various courses deploy a range of innovative teaching and learning methods including: student-led research conferences, student blogs; meet-the-author book review sessions; film reviews; re-enactments of historic international legal events; international law mooting or pleading; and simulated peace negotiations.
In addition to your chosen courses, as an international law masters student you will join the International Law Master Class. This is a non-assessed course designed to build a research community and nourish your legal research and writing skills, your powers of critical thinking, and your international legal imagination. The Master class meets fortnightly and, in any year, may comprise: a walking tour of the international legal geography of London; an archival tour of the international legal history of London; a classroom tour of critical approaches to international law; a practitioner’s tour of contemporary cases in international law; dissertation speed dating; dissertation boot camp; writing retreats; and, uniquely, the opportunity to shape your own learning by selecting topics and speakers at the cutting-edge of international legal scholarship as part of the Afternoon Teas series of the Centre for the study of Colonialism Empire and International Law.
International Law occupies a central place in the SOAS School of Law and the SOAS School of Law occupies a central place in the wider international law community in London and internationally. The School of Law is home to the Centre for the study of Colonialism, Empire and International Law (CCEIL) – a hub for inter-disciplinary collaboration and research on international law and its historical and contemporary relationship to colonialism and empire. The Centre (together with the LSE) is also the institutional home of the London review of international law. As a post-graduate student on the international law masters programme you will become a member of the Centre and join a vibrant research community of international legal scholars and a diverse community of students from all over the world. Together with our Doctoral students, you will play a role in CCEIL’s research and other activities: hosting the Student Salon; assisting with CCEIL’s events; and organising Afternoon Teas as part of the International Law Master Class. You will also benefit from the various collaborations with other research communities in the Law School, at SOAS and beyond.
This programme is ideal for graduates or professionals with no law background but an interest in the theory and practice of international law, particularly as it relates to the global south. You will join an international alumni of graduates from the MA at SOAS many of whom are now working at the UN, in NGOs, in government, in policy work or in academia.
Please note that the MA is tailored to applicants who do not hold a LLB. If you do hold a LLB and are interested in pursuing a masters degree in international law at SOAS see details of the LLM here.
Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings
Start of programme: September intake only
Mode of Attendance: Full-time or Part-time
- Upper second class honours preferably in a related discipline
- One calendar year (full-time);
Two or three years (part-time, daytime only)
To facilitate the study of law, all MA students are required to attend a two-week Preliminary Law, Legal Reasoning and Legal Methods in the September before beginning the MA programme.
Students must take modules to a total value of 180, consisting of a dissertation (60 credits) and 120 credits of taught modules. Taught modules are worth either 15 or 30 credits.
Students who wish to graduate with a specialised MA are required to take at least 60 credits associated with his or her specialised MA, a further 30 credits within the School of Law (General Law Postgraduate Taught Module List), and a final 30 unit which can either be taken within the School of Law or from the Language Open Options or Non-Language Open Options pages with the MA Programme Convenor’s permission. The dissertation topic will be undertaken within the MA specialisation.
Please note: Not all modules listed will be available every year. Please see the individual module page for information.
List of Modules (subject to availability)
General Law Options
Open Options Note
Open options from cross-Faculty list will need approval of deputy PG programme convenor (LLM or MA)
The information on the programme page reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session. If you are a current student you can find structure information on the previous year link at the top of the page or through your Department. Please read the important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules.
Teaching & Learning
All Masters programmes consist of 180 credits, made up of taught modules of 30 or 15 credits, taught over 10 or 20 weeks, and a dissertation of 60 credits. The programme structure shows which modules are compulsory and which optional.
As a rough guide, 1 credit equals approximately 10 hours of work. Most of this will be independent study, including reading and research, preparing coursework, revising for examinations and so on. It will also include class time, which may include lectures, seminars and other classes. Some subjects, such as learning a language, have more class time than others. At SOAS, most postgraduate modules have a one hour lecture and a one hour seminar every week, but this does vary.
More information is on the page for each module.
Knowledge & Understanding
- Students will acquire specialist knowledge of international law.
- This includes, but is not necessarily limited to, knowledge and understanding of the following:
- the theoretical and practical underpinnings of international law;
- the context in which law is made, interpreted, adjudicated, and amended;
- the role played by law, particularly international law in different areas;
- the role and function of legal institutions in managing international law
- the weight and significance of different sources and methodologies.
- Students will develop knowledge of how to locate relevant materials and assess their relevance and/or importance.
Intellectual (thinking) Skills
- Students should develop rigor in analysis and assessment of legal arguments.
- Students should develop the ability to understand, summarise and critically assess differing perspectives on theoretical debates.
- Students should develop independence of thought and the confidence to challenge the accepted wisdom.
- Students should learn to identify issues and formulate questions for further research through independent work.
- Students will be encouraged to bring to bear their own previous experience and knowledge in addressing legal issues in an interdisciplinary manner.
Subject-based Practical Skills
The programme will help students develop the ability to:
- Communicate effectively in writing.
- Research in a variety of specialized research libraries and institutes and online, and retrieve, sift and select information from a variety of sources.
- Present seminar papers and defend the arguments therein.
- Discuss ideas introduced during seminars.
- Develop essay and dissertation research questions.
- Read legal source materials rapidly and critically.
- Present legal arguments in moots and debates.
The programme will enable students to:
- Write clear research essays and dissertations.
- Structure and communicate ideas and arguments effectively both orally and in writing.
- Read and comprehend significant quantities of reading rapidly and effectively and develop critical faculties.
- Find and use a variety of written and digital materials, especially legal materials, in libraries and research institutes.
- Present (non – assessed) material orally.
- Develop teamwork skills.