If you want to study law and international law, the first basic question you need to ask yourself is whether you want to work within one national legal system. Do you wish to learn the national laws of a specific country? Maybe you want to focus on the relationships between legal entities which cross borders. Moreover, if you intend to defend clients accused of criminal actions in court, draw up contracts, resolve complex issues relating to land ownership or sue for negligence and damages, then you are looking for a career in the law of the country where you want to practice. However, if your interests lie in the field of human rights, environmental protection and the law of the sea, transnational trade, and business, you are ideally suited to studying international law.
Law or International law
There has long been a debate about whether international law can be viewed as law since it cannot be enforced. For instance, some countries signed up for the Kyoto Protocol. This is an international agreement drawn up to tackle climate change, and cannot be fined or forced to keep their word by the other signatories. They can simply sign the agreement and ignore it. In contrast, if the state passes legislation that says that you are not to carry a gun, and you are found in possession of a weapon, you will be punished for breaking the law.
Similarly, as globalization expands at a rapid pace, former distinctions between public and private international law are becoming blurred, and international organizations and super-national institutions such as the International Court of Justice are keeping pace and multiplying. Whichever degree you decide to take, your career prospects are excellent. International law is now a good option, and you no longer need to limit your horizons to practicing in one country, within one set of rules and regulations. Therefore, let us now look at both fields in greater detail.
The simplest definition of international law is that it is the rules agreed upon between countries. Through treaties, conventions, pacts, and protocols. International law is intended to support peace, resolve conflicts, improve environmental protection, tackle crime and regulate trade and business dealings. In short, it deals with issues that cross borders and legal jurisdictions. For example, Interpol, the World Trade Organisation, and the UN Security Council are typical organizations that have transnational goals.
Therefore, many countries debate and agree on rules among themselves, and these rules apply to states, businesses, and individuals of other nations. Although signing a treaty is optional, of course, for example, neither India nor Israel were signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty on nuclear weapons. World trade, the transport of goods from one country to another, extradition proceedings, international safety standards, space laws, and money laundering laws are among the subjects of international laws.
Moreover, laws can be changed over time, to take into account new events and circumstances. This has usually been done by either creating new pacts, protocols, or treaties or through conventions and judicial decisions. For instance, if a country refuses to comply with what has been agreed then international law does not offer any form of enforcement, apart from sanctions. Apart from this, recent history has also shown that sanctions can be, and often are, ignored on the political stage.
International law and career prospects
If you graduate with a degree in international law you have many career paths open before you, including:
Where can I study international law in English, in Europe?
There are 104 bachelor’s degrees and courses available in the UK in international law, including:
You cannot study law at the undergraduate level in the USA.
However, IE University Spain runs a five-year course with Northwestern University which will give you a bachelor’s degree in Global Law. Moreover, the JD, or Juris Doctor, the American post-graduate qualification in the law allows you to sit the US bar exams and start practicing as a lawyer. Although, be aware that this is an expensive option!
You can study for a first degree, in English, in international law at:
International Law (4 years)
Bachelor in Global Law and Transnational Legal Studies
Bachelor’s in International and European Law
International and European Law
Bachelor in Comparative and International Legal Studies
Alternatively, Australian institutions offer short courses and degrees at the Master’s level:
Studying law and international law
Firstly, undergraduate law degrees can focus on preparing you for a legal career. Simultaneously, the course can also be much broader in scope. Additionally, it can cover criminal behavior, law enforcement, psychology, law and business, criminal justice, international relations, etc.
Secondly, to complicate matters still further, you will find that there are many joint degree options available. Therefore, you can choose to combine law and Spanish, law and business, law and history, law and philosophy, etc.
Additionally, you must be clear about whether you are studying law and international law to become a defense or prosecution lawyer. Do you want appear in court in cases involving individuals and legal entities? Especially if you decide you want to specialize in a specific field of the law and work outside the court environment. Subsequently, if you wish to become a barrister or a solicitor, for example, in the UK you will have to complete the LLB degree. After that, you will then spend another two years gaining professional experience and sitting entrance exams.
Rules and regulations
Lastly, each country has its own rules and regulations for admitting people to practice law and you should check this before committing to a particular path. Besides, if you do go down the strictly legal/professional route, you will find yourself dealing with family issues, fraud, contract law, tort, assaults, rape, murder, negligence, copyright issues, land disputes – the whole kaleidoscope of human quarrels and wrongdoing. Therefore, you may start your day defending a young man who denies stealing a watch, move on to defending another who was driving at 100 miles an hour in a 20 mph zone and then change courtrooms and prosecute the owner of a taxi firm who firebombed his competitor’s office. Although, being an officer of the court is a varied, stressful, challenging, and highly rewarding career, no two weeks are ever the same.
Therefore, if you are inclined to use a law degree as the first step toward taking up an administrative or advisory position, then there are many career openings:
Europe – law courses taught in English
Law and International law – what shall I study?
In many fields, it is quite feasible to decide to do a bachelor’s degree and just let the future look after itself. For example, you may enjoy learning languages and decide to study French and Spanish and leave all thoughts of a career until later. Similarly, you could opt for computer science and take a broad spread of modules, and wait for the fork in the career road to loom up in the future.
Nonetheless, this is not the case with law, where you have to know if you want to take one of three options. Firstly ask yourself whether you want to practice the law in the courts of your native country or another country. Secondly, whether you would prefer to work on the international stage and act as an advisor for trans-jurisdictional organizations and institutions. Thirdly, perhaps you want to combine your interest in the law with chemistry since you want the knowledge and transferable skills offered by a law degree to become a forensics specialist. What’s more, knowing your ultimate aim will help you choose the right course.
In conclusion, if you find the idea of sorting through the hundreds of degrees available at the bachelor’s level overwhelming and impossible, do not fear – Elab is here to rescue you and point you in the right direction. In addition, our consultants will work with you to find out what type of law degree is best suited to your skills, personality, and interests, and narrow your options down to a manageable list. Last but not least, we have mentors studying law who can guide you and tell you precisely what to expect and how they are finding studying law.
Finally, one indisputable thing is the fact that law and international law is a well-paid, dynamic and multi-faceted career path. Besides, all you need to know is the nature of your ultimate goal!