Keuzegids 2018 Best Masters |

International Law

In this article the following studies are discussed

  • International & European Law
  • Economic & Business Law
  • For professionals

In times of globalisation, international laws and treaties are increasingly in the limelight. A blacklist of tax havens, a ban on pulse fishing or ratification of the Paris Agreement: there’s a lot of work in store for politicians and their legal experts, but also for internationally oriented lawyers from banks and investment companies. If you want to find out more about European and international law, there’s a wide range of master’s courses to choose from, almost all of which are taught in English.

Job market

For graduates of international and European law, jobs are not exactly there for the taking. The main employers are governments, international organisations such as the UN and the EU, NGOs such as Amnesty International, the Red Cross and Greenpeace, and multinational companies. Take account of strong competition, especially for the EU and the UN. In addition to your studies, also focus on developing your CV and a large network. The salaries in the Netherlands are at the same level as most master’s degrees in law and are excellent.

The masters

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The masters: overview and ratings
Facts Student ratings Expert
International Law
Number of students
Course type
Scientific training
Practice-based approach
Assessment and final level
International & European Law
  Groningen RUG International Law and the Law of Internat.. 44 ft en + + ++ + + + ++ + o o 80 ++
  Utrecht UU Public International Law 78 ft en + + ++ o o ++ ++ o o o 76 ++
Maastricht UM European Law School 127 ft en + o + o o + + + o o 70 +
Groningen RUG European Law 13 ft en + o + o - ++ + o o o 68 +
 Amsterdam VU Law and Politics of International Security 50 ft en o + + o o + + - o o 66 +

With very small student numbers, the rating from several years is merged. More information about sources and methods, see (in dutch)

The symbols (+, - and o) show how the programme scores in relation to the national average.
- - - = weakest, - - = weak, - = lower than average, o = average, + = above average, ++ = strong, +++ = strongest. (o- and o+ = see explanation assessment and final level)
The total score and our rating combines all scores. The best programmes get two or three times +.

International and European law

Seven universities together offer fifteen different master’s courses in international and/or European law. Most master’s courses devote a lot of attention to international organisations such as the EU or the UN and their position and influence. Human rights is a common topic in the specialisations, as are the legal aspects of doing international business: commercial law, international trade and market regulation.

More specific programmes are offered at VU University Amsterdam, such as Law and Politics of International Security, which deals with the legal context of peace and security. European Law at Nijmegen has an option to focus on immigration law, and at Groningen and Utrecht you can specialise in environmental law. You can also study maritime law at Groningen or Utrecht. The two-year International Laws programme in Maastricht combines international law with English, French and another modern language.

The students of international and European law are predominantly positive when it comes to assessing their education. That’s mainly due to the lecturers, who are good at teaching and provide a lot of support to the students. Students are not worried about study delay at any of the institutions. However, contact with the professional practice could be a lot more intensive in many of the courses.

Two courses, those run at Groningen and Utrecht, have so many plus points that they can call themselves top courses. The lecturers are top notch. Groningen is the only one to be praised for its scientific training and practice-based approach. Students effectively master how to write articles, and gain a lot of professional experience during their course. European Law School at Maastricht and Groningen are also praised for their programmes, which are cohesive and at a good level. 

In the middle of the rankings, scientific training lags slightly behind at some places: students aren’t given enough tools to be able to carry out research independently. European Law at Nijmegen has great facilities, but is disappointing in terms of content. Students from international and European Law at Nijmegen rate the scientific training and practice-based approach as really poor. It's slightly the same at UvA Amsterdam, but the students are very positive about their teacher's level of English.    

Economic and business law

Various master’s courses in international and European law have strands in the field of economic and business law, but there are also master’s courses that are dedicated specifically to these fields. These courses explore legislation related to taxes, cross-border trade, investments, and market regulation. Most master’s courses don’t have much freedom of choice, but Utrecht and VU University Amsterdam offer a number of additional specialisations. Maastricht provides the option of studying in Aruba for a year to obtain a double degree with knowledge of American taxes.

Students of economic and commercial law are not dissatisfied. Tilburg is rated highest in terms of content: the programme is challenging, assessment is transparent and effective, and the lecturers provide high-quality teaching. At Utrecht, the students are especially pleased that deadlines are feasible and examinations are checked quickly. Supervision is also well organised.

VU University Amsterdam and Maastricht University (UM) have equal scores, but different points for improvement. At VU University Amsterdam, the level of the material could be taken up a notch; at UM, the students want to practise writing articles more and they think that the education isn’t always critical enough. At the University of Amsterdam (UvA), there’s plenty of work still to be done: more contact with the professional practice and better facilities are on the students’ wish lists.

Related masters

  • Law
  • Tax law
  • Economics
  • Political science
  • International relations 

Our advice

If you want to obtain a place in the world of international law, it’s important to make a strategic choice. Of course, a prestigious university is favourable, and the right specialisation can also do wonders for your CV. However, the quality of teaching is equally important.  For commercial law, you can’t go wrong with Tilburg.  International Law in Groningen is also recommended if your grades are good enough. If you opt for an advanced master’s course, Leiden has a lot of choice, but beware: not all master’s courses there are of a high quality.



Keuzegids 2018 Best Masters |