Programme Overview

The structure and content of the LL.M. in International Law reflects the development of public international law in practice over recent years. There is an increasing need for international lawyers to master not just one concentration area in the field but also the core foundations of the international legal system, which in turn will allow them to adapt to different concentration areas.

The Programme comprises both compulsory and elective, general and specific international law courses. Not only does this provide students with a firm basis in public international law, but it also permits them to engage with the areas of international law that interest them most. In addition to their international law courses, students also have the opportunity to discuss legal problems in concentration streams, develop their professional skills in practical workshops and write an LL.M. paper. Moreover, LL.M. participants undertake real legal work for a beneficiay as part of a law clinic and gain exposure to leading practitioners through the courses and guest lectures.

Foundational Courses  |  Concentration Streams Professional Development and Immersion

Foundational courses

Foundations of International Law


This course covers the essential content of international law. It is divided into the following segments:

  • International Law Making - Andrea Bianchi

  • Participants in International Legal Processes - Fuad Zarbiyev

  • The International Law of Responsibility - Santiago Villalpando

  • International Dispute Settlement - Marcelo Kohen

  • The International Law of State Jurisdiction - Mamadou Hébié

  • International Institutional Law - Nico Krisch

Selected topics in international law


This course combines lectures by Graduate Institute faculty with insights from a wide-range of practitioners in both the public and private sectors. It covers both substance and skills, with a focus on how international law is used by a variety of organisations as well as how it is enforced through different means, ranging from monitoring bodies, to complaint procedures and judicial bodies. Emphasis is placed on the practice of lawyers in respect of: (i) transactions, (ii) multilateral affairs and (iii) dispute settlement.

Concentration streams

In addition to the general courses, students choose one of the following concentration streams:

International Environmental Law and Governance


In the last decade the international protection of the environment has emerged as one of the main priorities of governments, international organisations and the private sector. This stream trains students to understand this complex area of international law, as well as frameworks regarding climate change and the use of natural resources, particularly in connection with water and food security. It also explores how environmental change and governance affects and intersects with other areas of law such as human rights. Special emphasis is placed on the rules governing the entitlement to and distribution of these resources and on real-life disputes where such rules have been applied.

*Please note that this is only an indicative list of courses that have been offered in recent years and we cannot guarantee that they will be offered every year.

International Economic Law


The IEL concentration stream trains students to understand the regulation of international economic relations through the prisms of international trade, investment and intellectual property law. Students analyse the highly complex regulatory frameworks applicable to trade and foreign direct investment transactions and the growing body of case-law arising from a variety of dispute settlement mechanisms, such as the WTO Dispute Settlement Body or investment arbitration.

*Please note that this is only an indicative list of courses that have been offered in recent years and we cannot guarantee that they will be offered every year.

The Protection of the individual IN International law


This stream trains students to understand the various international legal frameworks applicable to the protection of people, as well as their increasing interaction. From a substantive perspective, students gain exposure to human rights, humanitarian law, migration law and refugee law. Particular emphasis is placed on how these different bodies of law interact with each other to strengthen the protection offered to refugees, internally displaced persons, minorities and the victims of armed conflict.

  • International Human Rights and Litigation - Yuval Shany

  • Mechanisms of Accountability for Atrocity Crimes - Paola Gaeta

  • International Humanitarian Law: The Protection of Victims of Armed Conflict - Yasmin Naqvi and Andrew Clapham

  • The Movement of Persons Across Borders in International Law - Vincent Chetail

*Please note that this is only an indicative list of courses that have been offered in recent years and we cannot guarantee that they will be offered every year.

All Concentration streams include


1) Concentration modules

In these sessions, students have the opportunity to discuss a selection of readings in a small group with a professor. They allow students to explore, debate and ask deeper questions on topics of their concentration

2) Law clinic

Students complete a practical assignment for a real client. They work in groups and under the supervision of professors on specific legal questions related to their specialty stream that have been posed by external clients, such as international organisations, governments or NGOs. In addition, skills sessions are held with invited professionals to improve legal writing and oral presentation skills. At the end of the semester, the groups submit written legal memoranda and orally present their projects in class in the presence of the client and invited guests.

Optional courses


Students choose two semester-long courses from those offered by the International Law Department. 


LL.M. Paper


Students write a 8,000-word paper on a topic of their interest. It should be an original piece of research and be oriented for publication in practitioner journals.


Professional Development and Immersion



Workshops are organised with professionals and experts, providing students with an opportunity to acquire practical knowledge, develop professional skils and receive advice on career development.


Immersion work


Guest lectures, roundtables, colloquia and institution visits all allow students to engage in a very practical way with the leading experts, pressing topics and fundamental organs of international law.