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    LLM - The Sheffield LLM

    School of Law, Faculty of Social Sciences

    The Sheffield LLM will provide you with expert knowledge and skills across a range of legal topics by joining a community of bright and ambitious students from all around the world. You can choose modules from across our range of LLM pathways.
    Two postgraduate students working together in a seminar room in Bartolomé House

    Course description

    The Sheffield LLM is a flexible programme, giving you the opportunity to gain expert knowledge and skills across a diverse range of legal topics and to tailor the course to your own interests and career aspirations. 

    Teaching is research-led and practice-oriented. You are encouraged to undertake your own independent research to support your learning. There are opportunities to get involved with conferences and research seminars, many of which involve visiting experts from the UK and overseas, as well as staff from the School of Law.

    The course is delivered through seminars in each subject area, with assessment through essays and a dissertation.

    By opting for the Sheffield LLM you retain maximum flexibility. You can choose modules from across our whole range of LLM pathways, as detailed below. This course is ideal if you’re looking for a strong foundation that covers a range of different areas of study.

    If you prefer to specialise in a particular subject area, the Sheffield LLM also offers, under the same course code, the option to follow one of two specialist pathways:

    If you’re not sure which specialist pathway you want to follow, don’t worry, you can stick with the Sheffield LLM without specialising, or opt to follow one of the pathways on arrival. The choice is yours.

    Individual modules offered may vary from those shown depending on staff availability and the number of students selecting each module.


    A selection of modules is available each year - some examples are below. There may be changes before you start your course. From May of the year of entry, formal programme regulations will be available in our Programme Regulations Finder.

    Core Modules

    Legal Research & Writing Skills

    This module introduces students to the basic skills of legal research and legal writing, both essays and problem solving. The module includes lectures by academic staff, library staff and on-line specialists, hands-on workshops and structured seminars. The modules also covers referencing and the use of unfair means. Students are given formative feedback on essays. Students are introduced to the skills necessary to give effective oral presentations. Time will also be given to self-reflect on future employment opportunities.

    Dissertation (LLM in Law)

    Students must complete a 10,000-12,000 word dissertation on a legal topic of their choice, subject to approval by the Head of School or her or his delegate. The approval will include consideration of whether the dissertation is suitable for the student to graduate from one of the specialised pathways. To this end the student will be asked to nominate on the paperwork their interest in graduating with one of the specialised pathways. The dissertation gives the student the opportunity to explore an area of their interest in some depth. To achieve a Masters standard the student is required to demonstrate an up-to-date critical analysis of the topic chosen for discussion.

    60 credits

    Optional modules - examples include:

    Principles of International Law

    This module provides students with a foundational knowledge of public international law. The topics covered include the theory and history of international law; the sources and subjects of international law; recognition; the international law adjudication and dispute settlement mechanisms; and the law of state responsibility.


    15 credits
    WTO Law: Foundations, Institutions, Challenges

    This module introduces the rules, institutions and policies of international trade law including the study of law and governance of the WTO, including core principles and institutional structures. The module will examine the functions and limits of international law in governing world trade in goods/services. Taking into account political, economic and historical contexts, it will discuss the effects of international trade law on states' interests, policies and individuals' lives/wellbeing. Topics may include trade negotiations, dispute settlement, core disciplines reciprocal exchanges, discriminatory treatment, interaction of trade rules with economic development, trade regionalism, intellectual property rights, environmental protection, and other societal values.

    15 credits
    International Humanitarian Law

    This module considers the norms that apply to armed conflicts. In particular, it will consider the aims and purposes of international humanitarian law, the classification of conflicts into international and non-international (NIAC), the applicable humanitarian law principles, the relation between humanitarian law and human rights law and the enforcement of IHL. It will then consider the classification of combatants and civilians, the notion of direct participation in hostilities, the law relating to occupation and the treatment of civilians and prisoners of war. All the above issues will be discussed through cases such as Iraq, Syria or Afghanistan.

    15 credits
    International Institutional Law

    This module is designed to develop students understanding of the role of international organisations in the contemporary world order. In particular, this module will examine whether a common law of international organisations has emerged and, if so, whether and how this international legal framework can be enforced and implemented. Topics to be covered include: legal rules relating to membership of international organisations; powers of international organisations; accountability and responsibility of international organisations; democracy promotion and international organisations.

    15 credits
    Introduction to Company Law and Corporate Governance

    This module begins with an outline of the principles of company law for those who have not studied it before. It then offers an overview of directors duties, decision-making, and minority protection versus market protection. These topics are then set in their broader corporate governance context, with an overview of theoretical approaches to corporate governance, as well as some of the main mechanisms characteristic of the UK system

    15 credits
    Theoretical Foundations of International Organisations

    This module examines the history, theories and principles that define and govern inter-governmental organisations (IOs). It seeks to discern unity, while recognising that each organisation has its individual legal characteristics. Issues to be considered include the constitutional basis of IOs, legal personality, legal powers, membership, representation, decision-making, law-making, democracy and legitimacy. The course will make references to particular IOs such as the United Nations (UN), the World Health Organisation (WHO), the European Union, and others

    15 credits
    Current Issues in Company Law and Corporate Governance

    This module explores in detail a number of topical issues in company law and corporate governance. Topics may include corporate theory, board composition, remuneration, takeovers, codes of conduct, introduction to corporate social responsibility, corporate finance including creditor protection, stakeholder corporate governance and corporate governance and the financial crisis.

    15 credits
    Corporate Social Responsibility and the Law

    This module will critically look at the developing legal regulation of CSR. The module will first look at the meaning of CSR, how it has evolved as a concept and how it is linked to law. The module will then approach CSR from the perspective of different legal fields. The focus will be on English law, but examples from other systems will also be referred to. The module will first look at CSR from a company law perspective, particularly focussing on reporting duties on CSR issues, but also covering directors' duties and the role of shareholders. Secondly, the module will address CSR in global supply chains, focussing on contract law. Thirdly, the module will discuss liability-based approaches to promoting greater CSR such as transnational tort litigation and corporate criminal liability with extraterritorial effects. Fourthly, the module will study CSR from a consumer (law) perspective which particularly raises questions of enforcement. Finally, the module will shift its focus to CSR in emerging economies 

    15 credits
    International Law and the Protection of Foreign Investment

    This module introduces students to States' obligations under public international law toward foreign investors and their property and examines the substantive and procedural rules applicable in settling investment disputes. International law concerning the treatment of foreign nationals and their property has important consequences in facilitating foreign direct investment and for host States' capacities to define and pursue the public interest. Students will be encouraged to critically engage with existing law and practice concerning investment protection and the settlement of investment disputes, and to consider whether, and how, these rules and practices might be improved.

    15 credits
    International Law and the Use of Force

    Recent conflicts in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq have attracted much debate on the legality of going to war. This module looks at that international legal debate, drawing upon practice and doctrine in the area known traditionally as the jus ad bellum. The topics considered are: limitations upon war in international war; the prohibition on the use of armed force in the UN Charter; the right of self-defence; humanitarian intervention; collective security and UN military action; and regionalism and collective security.

    15 credits
    Patent Law and Policy

    The module examines the operation of patent law and policy in an international, European and domestic setting. It also explores the appropriate role of patent law within science and society, and its wider implications for innovation and access to emerging technologies. Its aims are to provide students with a critical understanding of development of patent law, and how this explains the operation of that law today; to enable students to examine legislation, case law and academic literature to enable an awareness of how patent law is interpreted and perceived; to enable students to critically investigate the various patent law systems in Europe, the various courts that decide on these issues, and how they interact with one another; to enable analysis of current and enduring issues arising from the operation of the patent system, including access to medicines, the patentability of biotechnological inventions and the role of patents in innovation and emerging technologies and to explore the role of patent law and policy in society, to situate law and policy analysis in its broader social and cultural context.

    15 credits
    Core Issues in International Dispute Settlement

    This module explores the functioning of a wide range of methods for the settlement of disputes in international law, including: 'diplomatic' methods (negotiations, mediation, conciliation, enquiry); inter-state arbitration (e.g. the Permanent Court of Arbitration); 'mixed' arbitration between states and non-state entities (e.g. investor-state dispute settlement under the ICSID Convention); judicial settlement by the International Court of Justice; 'specialised' dispute settlement under the WTO framework and the Law of the Sea Convention. The module also considers issues of enforcement of international judgments and arbitral awards, with particular attention to the law of State immunity.

    15 credits
    International Criminal Law

    This module examines the material and subjective elements of international crimes namely, the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression; the criminal responsibility of individuals, and the mechanisms for the prosecution and punishment of the offenders. It also considers alternative methods of attributing justice. The module will mainly focus on the International Criminal Court and its jurisprudence and on the jurisprudence of the Yugoslav (ICTY) and the Rwanda (ICTR) Tribunals.

    15 credits
    Legal Tech and Lawyering in the Digital Age

    This module will consider the changing face of 21st century legal practice, with a particular emphasis on the growing influence of digital technology. Students will explore the current and future uses of a range of legal tech and critically evaluate its impact on various aspects of legal practice, including professional ethics and notions of professionalism. Students will have the opportunity to contextualise this through reflection on the wider currents of change within the legal profession, enabling them to develop a vision for the future of lawyering in a digital age.

    15 credits
    International Environmental Law

    This module examines the role of international law in addressing some of the most pressing environmental challenges faced by the international community in the contemporary world order. In particular, it addresses the current global problems of international environmental governance, such as: fundamental principles of international environmental law (including the precautionary principle, the polluter-pays principle, environmental impact assessment, and the preventive principle); sustainable development and intergenerational equity; human right to a clean environment; climate change; biodiversity; and marine pollution. The module examines the environmental challenges that societies are grappling with and the solutions offered by international law. The notion of sustainable development, the position of developing countries and the fact that environmental law needs to be considered in light of social and economic dimensions of development run as general themes throughout this module.

    15 credits
    Data Privacy and Governance

    This module will address the legal regulation of privacy, data protection and data governance. The module will first introduce the concept of online privacy and the regulatory challenges to which electronic communications give rise (e.g. transborder flow of data). The module will then discuss data protection issues online (data collection and targeted marketing, spam and cookies). Moreover, the module will critically evaluate the practices of promoting and restricting cross-border data flows (e.g. data free-flow and data localisation laws). This will be followed by further discussions on how the law could support data sharing (including data altruism) for research and other charitable purposes. Finally, the module will address issues of freedom of information and public access laws (such as open data in the public sector) as well as the online surveillance by states, especially focusing on the rise and fall of data retention laws.

    This module aims to 1) provide the students with an understanding of the legal issues pertaining to data privacy and regulation; 2) critically discuss the current legal framework, including the UK GDPR and Data Protection Act (DPA) 2018, drawing on legal and interdisciplinary research in the field; 3) develop problem solving skills, research skills and communication skills.

    15 credits
    International Intellectual Property Law and Sustainable Development

    The module examines the international frame of Intellectual Property (IP) and how, and to what extent, this can contribute to fulfil the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) whose agendas overlap with IP-related issues, i.e. most of them. In particular, the module will (a) analyse the 'Agreement on the Trade-Related aspects of IP Rights (TRIPs)', focusing on its key principles and outlining the key IP rights regulated therein; (b) discuss selected issues of international importance connected with IP and the SDGs frame such as: access to medicines; access to educational materials; protection of biodiversity and traditional heritage.

    15 credits
    International Trade Law: Advanced Issues

    This module covers in-depth topics of international trade law and governance. Building upon the foundational knowledge of international trade law (as offered in WTO Law: Foundations, Institutions, Challenges), this module explores advanced issues that are at the core of contemporary challenges facing the world trading system.
    This module will address some of the following themes:
    Advanced issues of the law and policy of the World Trade Organization;
    The world trading system in a context of deglobalization of complex global value chains and increasing economic nationalism;
    The future of global trade governance in a brave new world of regional trade agreements.

    15 credits
    International Law of the Sea

    The international rules concerning the global ocean have perhaps never been more important. The ocean is vital to communication and trade, and is a critical source of energy, resources, and nutrition. Its use can also generate tensions between States and threats to security. This module introduces students to States' rights and obligations under international law relating to the use, preservation, and protection of the global ocean. We will consider States' jurisdiction, the exploitation of resources, environmental protection, maritime security, and dispute settlement, and will consider contemporary challenges — posed, for example, by migration, climate change, pollution, and biodiversity loss.

    15 credits
    Secularism: Human Rights, Religion, and the State

    A right to abortion? Same-sex relations? Euthanasia? In many countries around the world these issues are rife in public debate and in the law courts. A marked feature of those debates is the invocation of religion, both in support of the claimed right, and in opposition to it. Yet, how far should these religious arguments go in determining the legal outcome of those rights? For instance, should same-sex marriage be disallowed because religion X considers it sinful? Should there be no right to abortion because it's prohibited in religion Y? These and other questions require consideration of secularism, the legal tool that describes the relationship between religion and state affairs such as the rights available to its citizenry. However, this is an oft-forgotten part of the debate. Seldom are these debates mindful of secularism requirements with the result that religious logic seeps into public reasoning even when technically disallowed by the rules of the State.

    This module will bring the focus squarely back to secularism. It will explore models of secularism in select jurisdictions alongside contemporary debates therein and encourage scholars to place secularism front and centre in these debates and court cases.

    The module will focus on States that officially subscribe to a model of secularism, such as UK, USA, India, France, Post-Soviet Nations, and China, to name a few. Religious States, by definition, will be excluded in large part with some exceptions (e.g. Bangladesh).

    15 credits
    Principles of Commercial Law

    This module aims to give students an understanding of the principles of commercial law within the system of English law, which is a popular choice of law in commercial transactions. It will examine the main concepts and principles of commercial law and how these apply to a number of common commercial transactions.  The course will examine legal and judicial doctrines critically, to evaluate the conflicts, inconsistencies and tensions between the principles. Transactions/issues considered could include, for example, the interpretation of contractual terms, the laws of agency, limitations and restrictions of liability and security transactions.

    15 credits
    Law, Technology and Finance

    This module will explore in depth the relation between law and economic development, the underlying theories, practice and lessons of law and development movement, both in the past and present. Topics include the theories of economic growth; the property right hypothesis; contract law; law and finance which consists of two parts: one is shareholders protection and stock market, another is creditors protection with a focus on insolvency law; reflection on the law and development movement.

    15 credits

    The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

    Open days

    An open day gives you the best opportunity to hear first-hand from our current students and staff about our courses.

    You may also be able to pre-book a department visit as part of a campus tour.Open days and campus tours


    • 1 year full-time
    • 2 years part-time


    The course is delivered through seminars or a combination of lectures and seminars in each subject area.


    Assessment is through essays and a dissertation.


    School of Law

    Three postgraduate students walking up the staircase of Bartolomé House

    At the School of Law, you will learn to identify and address the complex legal, moral, ethical and social questions that underpin the law. You will be taught by academics, some of whom are practising legal professionals, that are researching at the cutting edge of law and criminology. Our commitment to research-informed teaching means their discoveries become yours, as this research filters into teaching.

    Our courses have been developed in consultation with the legal profession and have a strong international focus to develop you into a highly employable graduate. Top law firms regularly visit us to meet our students and take a hands-on approach by contributing to your wider education. They also interview our high-achieving students for jobs.

    Our school is acclaimed for its exceptional research performance, aided by our world-leading academics, as well as our pioneering research centres and projects. 91% of our research is rated in the highest two categories in the REF 2021, meaning it is classed as world-leading or internationally excellent.

    We endeavour to help you build the employability skills that employers value. At the School of Law we have a dedicated pro bono centre offering you a range of practical experiences. You will have the opportunity to work in our FreeLaw Clinic, fight injustice with our Criminal Justice Initiative and Miscarriages of Justice Review Centre, and gain work experience with our commercial clinic for start up businesses, CommLaw, delivering legal advice on commercial legal issues.

    You can also provide practice support to litigants in person with Support Through Court and have the opportunity to get involved with local projects and charities such as Victim Support and Citizen’s Advice Sheffield.

    You’ll be based at Bartolomé House, where you will learn through a variety of lectures, tutorials, seminars, and group work. You can also enhance your degree by taking advantage of our careers and employability sessions and there are also a variety of student societies that you might join. This includes the student-run Edward Bramley Law Society.

    Entry requirements

    Minimum 2:1 undergraduate honours degree in a law or a subject with a sufficient legal component.

    Other qualifications and relevant work experience will be taken into consideration alongside qualifications.

    We also consider a wide range of international qualifications:

    Entry requirements for international students

    Overall IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component, or equivalent.

    If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.


    You can apply now using our Postgraduate Online Application Form. It's a quick and easy process.

    Apply now

    Any supervisors and research areas listed are indicative and may change before the start of the course.

    Our student protection plan

    Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database.