International Criminal Justice and Armed Conflict LLM


Fact file

LLM International Criminal Justice and Armed Conflict
1 year full-time, 2 years part-time
Entry requirements
2.1 (or international equivalent) in law, humanities or social sciences
Other requirements
7.0 (with no less than 7.0 in writing, 6.5 in reading and 6.0 in speaking and listening)

If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available
Start date
University Park
Tuition fees
You can find fee information on our fees table.


This course examines the law applicable prior to, during and following an armed conflict. Current issues and modern challenges to the law and politics surrounding war and justice will be discussed.
Read full overview

Armed conflicts, both international and within a state's borders, are taking place across the globe. With the rise of global terrorism, the traditional distinction between armed conflicts between states and internal armed conflict is being eroded. Meanwhile, international crimes are being perpetrated on a daily basis. How has the law dealt with this?

The LLM International Criminal Justice and Armed Conflict provides you with an opportunity to develop a holistic overview of the law governing the use of force by states, the law applicable to the conduct of hostilities, and the international criminal justice system. You will be invited to consider current issues and modern challenges to the law and politics surrounding war and justice, as well as the legal and philosophical responses to international criminality.

You will be taught by internationally recognised experts in the field, many of whom have worked with relevant international organisations such as the International Criminal Court and the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

Key facts

  • The School of Law was ranked 41st best law school in the world, and 9th in the UK, by the QS World Rankings by Subject 2016
  • Since its introduction in 1987, our LLM programme has continued to grow in popularity and prestige and now attracts some 140 to 160 students each year, from more than 50 countries, confirming its status as one of the leading LLM programmes available
  • Research-led teaching means that you will be exposed to current issues, advanced debate, and innovative thinking and regular guest seminars and lectures, delivered by distinguished scholars and practitioners complement teaching in the school
  • Dedicated resources for students in the school, including a Legal Skills Advisor who delivers workshops and one-to-one sessions, a Law School computer room, and a Law Reading Room in the Hallward Library, contribute to a unique and positive learning experience
  • The school enjoys professional relationships with international institutions, leading UK law firms, private industry and consultancies, government departments, both foreign and domestic, and non-governmental organisations

Course details

You must complete at least 90 credits worth of modules from the qualifying specialist module options for the International Criminal Justice and Armed Conflict LLM. This includes the compulsory module International Criminal Law. The remaining 30 credits required to complete the taught stage of the degree can be chosen from the full suite of modules offered across all of our LLM programmes.

In addition, you must choose a dissertation topic which falls within the field of international criminal justice and armed conflict, and has relevance to the qualifying module options which were undertaken. Guidance and support on deciding a dissertation topic and designing your project will be provided through bespoke workshops and one-to-one support.


The LLM programme operates small group seminar teaching wherever possible, allowing for an integrative and interactive learning experience. You are encouraged and expected to prepare for, and participate in, seminars so that you get the maximum benefit from these teaching sessions.

Modular assessments

All taught courses are assessed by examination or essay, or a combination of both. All assessments take place at the end of the spring term.

Practice assignments, workshops on issues such as exam technique and time management, as well as one-to-one sessions with the Legal Skills Advisor are offered throughout the academic year to prepare you for these assessments.




International Criminal Law

An introduction to international criminal law issues, with particular emphasis on institutions (such as Nuremberg and Tokyo IMTs, the ad hoc Tribunals and the International Criminal Court) as well as substantive and procedural aspects of international criminal law.

The module focuses on the institutional developments in international criminal law as well as the definition and application of the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and aggression. 

Principles of liability, defences and elements of international criminal procedure will also be covered.

This module aims to:

  • develop students' analytical skills in relation of the function, scope and operation of the international criminal justice system and its likely future development, as well as to enable students to apply the law to the various situations

Qualifying module options

Contemporary Issues in Criminal Justice

This module explores a number of contemporary issues which have given rise to controversy within criminal justice processes with reference to different comparative models. It is concerned with debates about the strengths and weaknesses of different models of proof in common law, civil law and international systems of criminal justice. A comparative method is employed to examine how these issues are treated across a range of different criminal justice systems.

The module aims to develop students' analytical skills in relation to the different functions of domestic and international tribunals, the different models of proof that operate within them and the degree to which international human rights law can help develop common standards of proof. A good understanding of the competing values and processes that underlie the different systems will be encouraged.

This module aims to:

  • promote a good understanding of different models of criminal justice and of comparative legal methods
  • develop detailed knowledge of the different principles, rules and practices governing the treatment of specific issues
  • develop analytical legal skills, particularly with regard to a range of comparative legal materials
  • develop an understanding of the different roles professionals play in criminal justice processes
  • encourage critical reflection on the different approaches adopted towards the way criminal cases are handled across different systems and encourage creative thinking about the institutional design of criminal justice processes
Detention and Imprisonment in the International Criminal Justice System

From the history of detention and imprisonment at the post-World War II International Military Tribunals, the course will progress to look at the penal regimes of the contemporary international criminal courts and tribunals, including the ICTY, ICTR, MICT, SCSL and ICC. 

Students will learn about the systems for and conditions in international remand detention and analyse the complaints and disciplinary procedures and oversight mechanisms operating within these international facilities. 

Students will also learn about life for international prisoners post-conviction, through an exploration of the various systems used to enforce international sentences of imprisonment. 

This module aims to:

  • introduce students to the systems used to detain and punish persons accused of and convicted for the commission of international crimes by international criminal courts
  • encourages students to critically analyse the custodial systems, standards and oversight mechanisms operating in the international criminal justice system
International and Comparative Penal Law and Human Rights

The imposition and implementation of punishment are being influenced to an increasing extent by developments in international human rights law and by the emergence of an international criminal justice system. This module analyses the international instruments that prohibit torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and the manner in which these concepts have been applied by international and national tribunals. It also condemns the impact of internationally recognised procedural rights on sentencing and punishment. Careful attention is paid to the limitations of attempts to use international law to eliminate capital and corporal punishment.

This module aims to:

  • help students develop analytical legal skills
  • raise awareness of the strengths and weaknesses of international remedies to deal with torture and other forms of ill-treatment of offenders
  • develop skills of comparative legal analysis as a resource for problem-solving and normative evaluation as applied to punishment
International Criminal Evidence

This module is concerned with debates about the strengths and weaknesses of different models of proof in common law, civil law and international systems of criminal justice. The model aims to develop students' analytical skills in relation to the different functions of domestic and international tribunals, the different models of proof that operate within them and the degree to which international human rights law can help develop common standards of proof. A good understanding of the competing values and processes that underlie the different systems will be encouraged.

This module aims to:

  • promote a good understanding of different models of proof in domestic and international systems of criminal justice
  • help students to develop analytical legal skills, particularly with regard to a range of international legal materials
  • help students to develop forensic practice skills by being assigned a professional role with the international legal system
  • encourage critical reflection on how fact-finding should be conducted in the criminal justice processes at a domestic and international level
International Humanitarian Law

The module will examine the essential elements of international humanitarian law - conceptual, institutional and substantive.

The course will develop from an introduction and historical overview of international humanitarian law to an examination of the sources of the law. Candidates will then examine the form of armed conflicts in which these laws operate, paying particular attention to such issues as the classification and treatment of combatants, targeting rules and weaponry usage. 

This module aims to:

  • introduce students to the essential elements of international humanitarian law - conceptual, institutional and substantive - in an interactive and flexible manner
Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights and Criminal Justice

A broadly-based introduction to the philosophical foundations of human rights and criminal justice, emphasising the moral and political underpinnings of legal rules, doctrines and principles.

The module first tackles perennial conceptual and methodological issues relating to the nature of "philosophical" inquiry and the challenges of scepticism. Thereafter, the model reconsiders key issues and questions in contemporary debates surrounding human rights and criminal justice through the contrasting lenses of two rival philosophical perspectives, utilitarianism and liberal deontology.

This module aims to:

  • introduce lawyers and others with limited or no formal philosophical background to key themes, ideas and arguments in moral and political philosophy
  • develop advanced skills of conceptual analysis and critical thinking
Principles of Public International Law

The module is primarily concerned with those customary and treaty rules governing relations between States. This module aims to give candidates a thorough grounding in the principles of PIL. The basic topics include: nature of international law, sources, actors in the international legal system, jurisdiction and state responsibility.

This module aims to:

  • develop knowledge and understanding of the fundamental principles of Public International Law
  • develop an understanding of the structure and development of the international legal system and to understand its wider political context
The Protection of Refugees and Displaced Persons in International Law

Following a review of the history of international refugee law, the course focuses on the legal context of forced displacement today, including the rights and obligations of States and the rights of individuals. The 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees are reviewed, with due regard also to human rights protection. Who is a refugee, and how decisions are made, are examined with reference to key terms, such as persecution, race, religion, political opinion and social group, and in light of selected contemporary issues, such as conscientious objection to military service, women refugees, flight from conflict, security, terrorism, and 'exclusion'.

The course also considers the legal standing of currently contested issues, such as the right to seek asylum, the principle of non-refoulement, procedural standards, the responsibility to determine asylum claims, and extra-territorial measures of interception. Examples from different jurisdictions and the practice of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees are used to focus attention on the adequacy of existing international mechanisms, particularly in the face of the challenges presented by migration, human smuggling, trafficking, internal displacement, complex emergencies (including protracted conflict) and humanitarian assistance.

This module aims to:

  • develop the knowledge and analytical skills of students in relation to the international law applicable to the involuntary displacement of persons, including related refugee law, human rights law, the guiding principles on internal displacement, and the law relating to human smuggling and trafficking
  • help students to understand the application of law in highly complex situations and to formulate positions regarding many legal and practical grey areas
  • encourage the development of skills which will assist the participants in undertaking work in support of refugees, other displaced persons and the victims of trafficking
  • encourage critical reflection on the application of international refugee and related law as well as creative thinking about the institutional design of international protection programmes
United Nations Law

This module examines the international institutional law and general international law governing the United Nations, including the central organs (for example the Security Council and General Assembly), subsidiary organs (such as the UNEP and the UNDP), and the specialised agencies (for example the WHO, UNESCO, ICAO). 

It considers:

  • the UN's constitutional basis
  • its legal personality and powers
  • membership and budgetary matters
  • representation and decision making
  • sanctions regimes
  • the UN's military options
  • issues of responsibility, accountability and immunities
  • the UN's contribution to the development and enforcement of international law

This module aims to:

  • provide a detailed knowledge of this fundamental area of specialisation in the field of public international law


The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. This list is an example of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.



The School of Law advertises a variety of funding opportunities each year, please see the funding opportunities webpage for further information.

There is also funding information on the Graduate School website.

International and EU students

The University of Nottingham offers a range of masters scholarships for international and EU students from a wide variety of countries and areas of study.

Applicants must receive an offer of study before applying for our scholarships. Applications for 2017 entry scholarships will open in late 2016. Please note the closing dates of any scholarships you are interested in and make sure you submit your masters course application in good time so that you have the opportunity to apply for them.

The International Office also provides information and advice for international and EU students on financing your degree, living costs, external sources of funding and working during your studies.

Find out more on our scholarships, fees and finance webpages for international applicants.



Our postgraduate students move into an extraordinarily wide range of careers. Many graduates either go into the legal profession or return to their previous legal careers with their experience and prospects enhanced by their experiences on the course. A large number also work with NGOs, or return to their countries with the relevant skills to help add to the future development of that country.

A selection of graduates progress onto our PhD programme each year, in order to progress their academic career. These students often choose to stay at The University of Nottingham beyond their doctorate, with a number of our current academics having completed both the LLM or Masters and PhD programmes with us before becoming members of staff.

Average starting salary and career progression

In 2015, 93% of postgraduates in the School of Law who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £27,031 with the highest being £40,800.*

* Known destinations of full-time home higher degree postgraduates 2014/15. Salaries are calculated based on those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Career prospects and employability

The acquisition of a masters degree demonstrates a high level of knowledge in a specific field. Whether you are using it to enhance your employability, as preparation for further academic research or as a means of vocational training, you may benefit from careers advice as to how you can use your new found skills to their full potential.

Our Careers and Employability Service will help you do this, working with you to explore your options and inviting you to attend recruitment events where you can meet potential employers, as well as suggesting further development opportunities, such as relevant work experience placements and skills workshops.

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