1 year full time, 2 years part time
Starts September 2017

International Commercial and Trade Law

Economies in today’s world are increasingly interconnected, posing new legal challenges in areas such as:

  • e-commerce regulation
  • corporate governance standards
  • the enforcement of trade and competition rules.

You’ll learn about the regulation of trading and commercial activities, cross-border transactions, and the harmonising of commercial law. You’ll also learn to apply the rules of international trade law and develop critical perspectives so you can evaluate cutting-edge scenarios and the theories underlying trade liberalisation.

The course is ideal if you’re already a legal practitioner in your home country, although this is not essential as long as you have completed a basic legal education.

Why study an International Commercial and Trade Law LLM at Sussex? – Emily Lydgate, Law lecturer

Key facts

  • Sussex is a world-recognised centre for research excellence in international trade and commercial law with one of the largest interdisciplinary trade research groups in the world.
  • You have an opportunity to develop the practical skills needed to act as a legal adviser in the resolution of international commercial or trade disputes.
  • You learn to apply rules of international commercial and trade law, exploring the relationship between the public and the private and engaging with cutting-edge research.

How will I study?

You will learn through core modules and options in the autumn and spring terms.

In the summer, you undertake supervised work on the LLM dissertation.

You will be assessed through coursework, unseen examinations, essays and a 10,000-word dissertation.

Full-time and part-time study

You can choose to study this course full time or part time. Find the modules for the full-time course below. 

For details about the part-time course structure, contact us at lps@sussex.ac.uk

What will I study?

  • Module list

    Core modules

    Core modules are taken by all students on the course. They give you a solid grounding in your chosen subject and prepare you to explore the topics that interest you most.

    • Advanced Legal Research and Writing

      15 credits
      Autumn Teaching, Year 1

      Advanced Legal Research and Writing has two purposes:

      • to ground students in the conventions of advanced academic writing in law (a specialised form of discourse with many non-obvious conventions and norms)
      • to ground students in the leading traditions or approaches in academic legal research.

      The module covers modern standards for the citation of legal authorities (such as OSCOLA), as well as the justification for them. Legal traditions covered include:

      • doctrinal exposition and analysis
      • critique of doctrine, institutional design and practice
      • researching the dynamics of law.
    • The Legal Regulation of International Trade

      30 credits
      Autumn Teaching, Year 1

      The central aim of this module is to provide students with a knowledge and understanding of the world trading system, in particular the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and an awareness of the different levels of government (and governance) at play in the regulation of international trade. 

      To this end it explores: the background to, institutional structure, and fundamental principles of, the World Trade Organisation (WTO); certain of the substantive rules of the WTO, the context in which it operates, and the other actors operating in this field (regulation of international trade).

      It also looks into the relationship between international trade rules and other branches of international law, and in particular the challenges facing the WTO in adjusting to the developing priorities of the global community.

    • Transnational Commercial Law

      30 credits
      Autumn Teaching, Year 1

      This module examines the nature, history and sources of transnational commercial law.

      It also looks at the role of conflict of laws in international commercial law and international commercial dispute resolution.

      We examine the relevance of comparative law to transnational commercial law, and the various instruments (international conventions, model laws etc.) and institutions (including UNIDROIT, UNCITRAL, ICC, the Hague Conference on Private International Law) responsible for the harmonization of transnational commercial law.

    • Dissertation (Int Commercial and Trade Law)

      45 credits
      Spring & Summer Teaching, Year 1

      All LLM students design and carry out a project of research under individual supervision.

      You are encouraged to apply the theoretical and practical principles of research methodology, which were addressed by the module Advanced Research for LLM Students, in the production of your 10,000-word dissertation.




    Alongside your core modules, you can choose options to broaden your horizons and tailor your course to your interests.

    • Alternative Dispute Resolution

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      This module will provide you with a critical and in-depth understanding of the theoretical and practical dimensions of dispute resolution in comparative perspective.

      In addition, the module will equip you with practical experience of negotiation and mediation in a variety of national and international contexts. Because Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) has attracted interests from a variety of academic disciplines the course engages with interdisciplinary research.

      The module is divided into three substantive parts;

      • Part I examines issues of formal and informal justice across a range of legal cultures, and then explores the manner in which ADR emerged as a reform movement in the late 20th century, primarily in common law jurisdictions.
      • Part II surveys the primary key modes of dispute resolution ordinarily used: negotiation, mediation, and umpiring.
      • Part III examines the inventive approaches to dispute resolution based on a fusion of one or more primary processes and gives emphasis to international dispute resolution and online dispute resolution.
    • Carriage of Goods by Sea

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      You will examine the law and practice of the international carriage of goods by sea including contracts of affreightment, bills of lading, charter parties and other chartering documents (sometimes referred to collectively as 'dry shipping'). Seminar topics include implied obligations in the contract of affreightment; voyage charterparties; time charterparties; bills of lading and their functions; The Carriage of Goods by Sea Act 1992; The Hague-Visby and Hamburg Rules; and dispute settlement.

    • Commercial Conflicts of Laws

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      This module examines the rules governing commercial litigation in which not all facts are linked to a single jurisdiction. For example, the litigation may arise out of a sale of goods from a corporation in one jurisdiction to a person in another jurisdiction. In those cases, the following questions may arise:

      • In which jurisdiction can litigation between the parties take place?
      • The law of which jurisdiction governs the substantive issues of the dispute?
      • Can a judgment rendered in one jurisdiction be recognised and enforced in another jurisdiction?

      This module addresses those questions. It focusses on the relevant EC/EU Regulations (Brussels I Recast, Rome I and Rome II) and English domestic law, but there is also an opportunity to look at international conventions and the law in some other countries.

    • EU External Relations Law

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

    • International and Comparative Company Law

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      Topics covered include:

      • Introduction and theory: the company as an instrument of entrepreneurship, domestic and foreign models of corporate entities, business as a social and economic tool, the market and profit incentive, regulation and laws as an economic function and the conflict of legal and economic rules.
      • Company law concepts: the concept of the corporate contract, legal personality, the corporate veil, judicial avoidance of the doctrine, forms of business organisation, company as entity, group enterprise, distinction between corporate forms, the legislative framework, birth, life and death of the company.
      • Corporate liability: general liability in tort and contract and trust relationships, general regulatory approach, the arguments for self-regulation and interventionism, the influence of criminal and civil liability concepts, ultra vires and agency doctrines, individual and corporate capacity, corporate crime.
      • Corporate responsibility and governance: companies as democracies, representation and power, the exercise of control, the management of conflict, internal and external control, stakeholder theory, directors duties and liabilities, administration and supervision, employee consultation and participation, dispute resolution, corporate social responsibility and philanthropy.
      • European and international company law: the EU framework for co-operation in corporate affairs, fundamental freedoms for companies, harmonisation of European law, jurisdictional issues and approaches in the common law and civil law systems, competition among jurisdictions and the Delaware effect, international co-operation issues, multinationals.
    • International Aspects of Intellectual Property and Technology Regulation

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      The strengthening of the international intellectual property system has been one of the main features of the international globalisation effort that culminated with the creation of the World Trade Organisation. It could be argued that this process is likely to remain in place for the foreseeable future. The scope of international protection of intellectual property rights is on the increase, not only in length of protection, but also geographically and in the amount of rights awarded to owners. How then does this system affect the acquisition of technology by developing countries? This is not just an academic question. Some may consider that a strong international system of intellectual property is detrimental for developing countries because one could argue that it makes technology more difficult to come by. If developing countries rely on this initial acquisition of high technologies then who owns it, and how, becomes of critical significance for their development prospects. However, others may argue that developing countries should implement stronger protection in order to foster foreign investment into their economies, which will eventually assist their efforts to become developed.

      This module will focus on the relationship between technology, intellectual property and development. Special attention will be given to the specific issues that affect developing countries the most, such as access to knowledge, transfer of technology and access to essential medicines.

    • International Business and Human Rights

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      The module considers the legal and regulatory framework governing the financial and securities markets. With US, UK and EU law the primary focus, the module also looks at civil law systems, in particular, when cross-border issues arise and where corporate assets and liabilities are located in multiple jurisdictions. The module examines legal structures of cutting edge transactions as well as the underlying policy objectives that shape the financial law and regulation. In the post-financial crisis legal environment, the most challenging issues are identified and explored, with a particular regard to the recent trend of public and private law enforcement. Specifically, the module addresses financial accounting, disclosure, corporate finance, securities litigation, mergers and acquisitions (M&As), corporate criminal liability and cross-border insolvency in the global financial markets. The theory of fraud-on-the-market will also be highlighted along with the recent landmark cases by the US Supreme Court.

    • International Commercial Arbitration

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      International commercial arbitration is a process of resolving business disputes between or among transnational parties through the use of arbitrators rather than courts. The module will examine the conceptual and practical issues relating to matters such as the decision to arbitrate, the relevant law, the structure and process of international arbitration, and the recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards. Throughout the module, comparisons will be made with other mechanisms of dispute settlement in international law such as the International Court of Justice, the WTO Dispute Settlement Body and the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea.

    • International Environmental Law

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      This module begins with an introduction to the policies and principles surrounding international environmental law including an examination of the historical development of the subject area; the sources and participants found within international environmental law; and issues surrounding compliance and enforcement. Following this, the module will examine a range of substantive issues of contemporary global importance including climate change; the conservation of biological diversity; the law of impact assessment; liability; international economic institutions and environmental protection; international trade, development & the environment; and the relationship between human rights and the environment.

    • International Investment Law

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      International investment law is the law that protects investors and investments located in foreign jurisdictions (known as foreign direct investment).

      A global network of treaties regulate foreign direct investment, and it is the interpretation of these treaties by arbitral tribunals, together with customary international law, that form the basis of international investment law.

      This module examines the nature of international investment law, the protections offered to foreign investors by international investment law and investor-State dispute resolution procedures. In addition, the module considers recent developments in international investment law, including its interaction with other areas of public international law. The module addresses both theoretical and practical aspects of international investment law.

    • Public Procurement Laws in the International System

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      This module critically assesses the growing body of international hard and soft laws that regulate procurement markets, address corruption and provide best practice guidelines for public procurement laws and policies.

      Public procurement occurs when a government agency purchases supplies as varied as construction services, defence, or education and public transportation. Accounting for 10 to 20 per cent of GDP, public procurement accounts for a substantial part of the global economy. Public authorities in Europe spend over $2000 billion a year purchasing goods and services, while in the US public procurement accounts for over $500 billion at the federal level alone. This results in huge purchasing power, which can be used to force innovation and ensure competition and value for money. Conversely, public money can also be wasted in bad purchasing policies and corruption, with negative consequences for citizens as taxpayers and consumers of public goods.

      As the global marketplace becomes more fluid and integrated, knowledge of international and comparative public procurement rules becomes increasingly vital. Most governments regulate procurement to prevent fraud, waste, corruption or local protectionism. This is acknowledged to be a vital dimension of good governance. At the international level, public procurement is the subject of the Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA), a plurilateral treaty under the auspices of the WTO. Many regional and bilateral trade agreements also include chapters to regulate procurement and provide access to each others procurement markets.

      Throughout this module, you will learn about the growing signficance of international, regional and domestic public procurement practices, along with their applicable legal frameworks.

    • Regulating the Creative Industries

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      The module looks at international and comparative aspects of regulation, which affect the creative industries. It will start with an identification of the scope and economic value generated by the creative industries, particularly in terms of GDP and employment.

      The attention will then turn to the main regulatory instruments, which affect the creation, commercialisation and fruition of creative outputs. The focus will be on intellectual property rights, the law of contracts, competition and employment. The discussion will also address more specific forms of regulation which include the administration of domain names, and the drafting and enforcement of codes of conduct by administrative authorities

      The module will address certain legal aspects of the music industry. In considering the process of songwriting, music publishing, producing, recording and touring, emphasis will be given to the management of rights (eg copyright and trade marks) by way of contracts and licences (such as creative commons licences) or via collective management organisations. In addition, consideration will be given to new and evolving business models emerged from the online exploitation of music content.

      When looking at the film industry the focus will be on the process of creation, production and distribution of a feature picture. Particularly, the approach will be an international and comparative one to reflect the significance of the Hollywood industry as a point of reference for film production in Europe and in developing countries. Following this approach the discussion will concentrate on the legal protection granted to film plots and film characters, on the contractual arrangements between stakeholders involved in film production and financing, and on the evolving aspects which affect the legal status and international recognition of film actors and their trade representatives.

      The third industry that will be the focus of this module is the fashion industry. In this regard, consideration will be given to how the legal framework (trade mark and design laws in particular) affects the creation of fashion design both in the haute couture and prêt-à-porter markets. This will be done in a comparative manner by considering the effect of domestic legislation in markets where fashion design has a considerable commercial impact. There will be particular focus on the regulatory measures that apply to knock-offs, look-alikes and excellent fakes.

    • Transnational Corporate Finance Law

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      This module examines from a transnational perspective both the public and private dimensions of corporate finance law, using case studies that originate in the United Kingdom, continental Europe (with particular reference to France and Germany), the United States, and Asia, but also involving a significant cross-border dimension. The module focuses primarily on legal challenges to multinationals companies’ operations, such as jurisdiction and extraterritoriality, recognition of foreign judgments, judicial cooperation, and conflict of laws.

      Cutting-edge issues arising from cross-border insolvencies, merger and acquisitions (M&As), and corporate criminal liability are studied in a global context. A secondary focus is on the interplay between international and national legal frameworks as well as soft initiatives, all of which are indispensible to an understanding of the globalisation of business law. Special attention is paid to the cultural, economic and political underpinnings of transnational laws, which will also be examined in case studies.

Find out about LLM degrees at the University of Sussex

Entry requirements

An upper second-class (2.1) undergraduate honours degree or above in law

English language requirements

Standard level (IELTS 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each section)

Find out about other English language qualifications we accept.

English language support

Don’t have the English language level for your course? Find out more about our pre-sessional courses.

Additional information for international students

We welcome applications from all over the world. Find out about international qualifications suitable for our Masters courses.

Visas and immigration

Find out how to apply for a student visa

Fees and scholarships

How much does it cost?


Home: £7,700 per year

EU: £7,700 per year

Channel Islands and Isle of Man: £7,700 per year

Overseas: £15,100 per year

Note that your fees may be subject to an increase on an annual basis.

How can I fund my course?

Postgraduate Masters loans

Borrow up to £10,280 to contribute to your postgraduate study.

Find out more about Postgraduate Masters Loans


Our aim is to ensure that every student who wants to study with us is able to despite financial barriers, so that we continue to attract talented and unique individuals.

Chancellor's Masters Scholarship (2017)

Open to students with a 1st class from a UK university or excellent grades from an EU university and offered a F/T place on a Sussex Masters in 2017

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Chancellor's Masters Scholarship

Lady Monica Cockfield Scholarship (2017)

Two full UK/EU fee waivers for students who hold an offer of a place on the MA in European Governance and Policy.

Application deadline:

31 July 2017

Find out more about the Lady Monica Cockfield Scholarship

Sussex Graduate Scholarship (2017)

Open to Sussex students who graduate with a first or upper second-class degree and offered a full-time place on a Sussex Masters course in 2017

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex Graduate Scholarship

Sussex India Scholarships (2017)

Sussex India Scholarships are worth £3,500 and are for overseas fee paying students from India commencing Masters study in September 2017.

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex India Scholarships

Sussex Malaysia Scholarships (2017)

Sussex Malaysia Scholarships are worth £3,500 and are for overseas fee paying students from Malaysia commencing Masters study in September 2017.

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex Malaysia Scholarships

Sussex Nigeria Scholarships (2017)

Sussex Nigeria Scholarships are worth £3,500 or £5,000 and are for overseas fee paying students from Nigeria commencing a Masters in September 2017.

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex Nigeria Scholarships

Sussex Pakistan Scholarships (2017)

Sussex Pakistan Scholarships are worth £3,500 and are for overseas fee paying students from Pakistan commencing Masters study in September 2017.

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex Pakistan Scholarships

How Masters scholarships make studying more affordable

Living costs

Find out typical living costs for studying at Sussex.


The LLM in International Commercial and Trade Law is taught by faculty members with strong expertise and experience in the areas of:

  • international transactions in goods and services
  • international and comparative company law
  • international commercial arbitration and litigation
  • the WTO and regional trade agreements
  • international trade in relation to environment and development
  • international trade in intellectual property.
  • Faculty profiles

    Dr Femi Amao
    Senior Lecturer in Corporate/CommercialLaw

    View profile

    Dr Qingxiu Bu
    Senior Lecturer in Corporate/CommercialLaw

    Research interests: Corporate Criminal Liability and Anti-Bribery Law, Corporate Finance Law, Extraterritoriality, Sovereignty and Global Crime, Financial Fraud Litigation, Foreign Investment and National Security, Global Antitrust Enforcement, International Business and Human Rights, Transnational Business Law

    View profile

    Dr Kamala Dawar
    Senior Lecturer in Commercial Law

    Research interests: Competition and consumer law, Development law, International Financial Law, International political economy, International trade law, Investment Arbitration, Public procurement and subsidy regulation

    View profile

    Mr Paul Eden
    Senior Lecturer in Law

    Research interests: Carriage by Air, Carriage of Goods by Sea, International Commercial Law, International Sales Law, Law of Treaties, Legal Interpretation, Plurilingualism, Statehood and Recognition, Terrorist Financing, The Crime of Apartheid

    View profile

    Dr Ahmad Ghouri
    Senior Lecturer in Commercial Law

    Research interests: Alternative Dispute Resolution, comparative corporate law and governance, international commercial arbitration, International Commercial Law, international dispute resolution, international investment law, investor-state arbitration, Islamic commercial law

    View profile

    Dr Edward Guntrip
    Lecturer In Law

    Research interests: Foreign direct investment, global commons, international dispute resolution, international investment law, investor-state arbitration, Public international law

    View profile

    Dr Sirko Harder
    Reader in Law

    Research interests: Civil remedies, Law of obligations, Private international law

    View profile

    Dr Phoebe Li
    Senior Lecturer

    Research interests: 3D bioprinting, 3D printing, Access to health technologies, Compulsory licensing, International intellectual property, Patents, Regulation of science and technology

    View profile

    Dr Emily Lydgate
    Lecturer In Environmental Law

    Research interests: agriculture and conservation, biodiversity and climate change regulation, Economic integration, Environmental policy, Renewable Energy, Trade liberalization

    View profile

    Dr Joanna Wilson
    Lecturer In Commercial Law

    Research interests: bail in, bail out, bank regulation, banking, banking law, club governance, Common Law, Including Commercial Law, Corporate/commercial law, crisis management, lender of last resort

    View profile


Graduate destinations

97% of students from Sussex Law School were in work or further study six months after graduating. Our graduates have gone on to jobs including:

  • associate lawyer, White and Case LLP
  • forensic assistant, International Criminal Court
  • parliamentary assistant, European Union.

(HESA EPI, Destinations of Post Graduate Leavers from Higher Education Survey 2015)

Your future career

This course will enable you to work as a legal practitioner in a variety of roles, for example:

  • advising on cross-border commercial transactions
  • as an arbitrator in international commercial disputes
  • as a government official
  • as an expert in an NGO or international organisation.

Graduates of our previous LLM courses in International Commercial Law and International Trade Law, which we've merged to create this LLM, have gone on to roles such as:

  • Deputy Director, Ministry of Commerce (Pakistan)
  • Manager (Legal Compliance), Essar Oil Limited
  • Senior Client Service Specialist, Capital Group
  • Head of Legal Department, Emirates Associated Business Group
  • Corporate Lawyer, Ioannides Demetriou Law offices.

Working while you study

Our Careers and Employability Centre can help you find part-time work while you study. Find out more about career development and part-time work