1. Programme name

Structured LLM in International Trade Law

  1. Programme code

Qualifications code: 6CN P01

Curriculum code: R801P

  1. Campus


  1. Delivery mode


  1. Programme leader

Prof Germarié Viljoen

  1. Introduction

This Master’s of Laws programme is set to provide students with an in-depth understanding of the main legal issues concerning international sales, electronic commerce, contract law, transport law, dispute resolution, customs and excise law, as well as international instruments such as payment and guarantees. The programme covers the international institutional and legal frameworks for international trade law and incorporates dedicated modules on the international law of contract, international transport law, customs and excise law, as well as international instruments of payment and guarantees.

  1. Prior knowledge required
  • To gain admission to the structured LLM or MPhil programmes, a student must have met all the requirements set by this university or any other South African university for the LLB degree. A student in possession of another four-year legal degree from this or another university may apply for admission to the structured LLM or MPhil degree. Such a student must furnish sufficient written proof of his/her knowledge and practical experience in the specific field of study to the satisfaction of the Director: Postgraduate Programmes.
  • To gain admission to the structured LLM or MPhil programme the following admission requirements apply: an average of 60% for the final year of the LLB degree (or similar recognised four-year degree) and a sub-minimum of 60% for the research project (where applicable).
  • An evaluation certificate as issued by the SAQA must be submitted if a previous qualification was obtained in a foreign country. If necessary, a student must deliver proof of proficiency in English (e.g., through TOEFL, a computer-based test).
  • The Director: Postgraduate Programmes may require that an applicant furnish sufficient proof of his/her research skills before the application for admission is finalised.
  • If a student wishes to obtain an LLM degree in a subject not included in the LLB or in which the student’s achievements are not of a sufficient standard, an admission examination in the subject in question can be prescribed by the Director: Postgraduate Programmes.
  • To gain admission to the MPhil in Environmental Law and Governance, a student who meets all the requirements of a four-year university degree may apply for admission. Such a student must first successfully complete the following undergraduate modules (or module equivalents at another South African university): Introduction to Law; Law of Property, Constitutional Law, Administrative Law and Environmental Law. Before being allowed to register, the student may be required to provide written evidence of sufficient knowledge and practical experience in the relevant field, to the Director: Postgraduate Programmes.
  • The LLM programmes and elective modules are only offered if the Director: Postgraduate Programmes is of the opinion that there is sufficient demand for the programme/ module(s) for the particular year.
  • Students can only register for a research topic in a field if sufficient supervision is available and if the Director: Postgraduate Programmes is of the opinion that there will be adequate expertise in the faculty for support and guidance to a student.
  • A student can only register for a module for non-degree purposes if he/she can present proof of preceding knowledge on HEQF level 8.
  • Admission to the LLM programme is subject to the applicant's academic record, language and writing skills, proven expertise in a particular field, the proposed topic of the research, the capacity of the faculty, the number of applications received in a particular programme and other relevant factors. The Director: Postgraduate Programmes has the discretion to approve, reject, postpone, or set additional conditions for admission to postgraduate programmes and to limit the number of candidates.
  1. Programme outcomes

On completion of this programme, the student should be able to demonstrate:

  • a comprehensive and systematic knowledge base in a specific field of study and the ability to apply the knowledge;
  • a coherent and critical understanding of the methodology of the specific field of study to rigorously critique and evaluate current research in this field, participate in scholarly debates and research relating to theory and practice;
  • an ability to use advanced information-retrieval and processing skills to identify, critically analyse and synthesise information relevant to complex and/or real-world problems, cases and issues in the field of the specific field of study where applicable, debating solutions from theoretical and research perspectives published in current literature and presenting the information to specialist and non-specialist audiences using it effectively; and
  • the ability to critically evaluate and apply the ethics, values, rules, norms, and regulations pertaining to the specific field of study.


  1. Modules

LLMI 873 Mini-dissertation

LLMI 886 International Law of Contracts

  • Law of international sales
  • International sales and private international law
  • Standardisation of international sales law
  • The provisions of the Vienna Convention (CISG)
  • Electronic commerce
  • Performance
  • Acceptance and rejection of goods
  • Breach of contract
  • Products liability
  • Representation


LLMI 887 International Transport Law

  • Basic principles and foundations of transport law
  • Different forms of transport, transport contract and supporting documentation
  • Relating and supporting contracts
  • Dispute resolution


LLMI 894 Customs and Excise Law

  • Salient provisions of and discussions on the Customs and Excise Act 91 of 1964
  • Constitutional challenges to the Customs and Excise Act
  • Excerpts on litigation on rules of origin
  • Tariff classification
  • Provisions of the Customs and Excise Act, 1964
  • Excerpts from the ‘Harmonized System’


LLMI 897 International Instruments of Payment and Guarantee

  • The different types of documentary credits
  • The Uniform Customs and Practice for Documentary Credits (UCP) and other legislative and quasi-legislative measures
  • The doctrine of strict compliance
  • The independence principle and its boundaries
  • The different relationships
  • Capita select


  1. Lecturers
  1. Research and possible topics

Early in the academic year, students accepted for the LLM qualification have the opportunity to approach a potential study supervisor for the writing of their dissertation. The dissertation is not an extended module assignment, but an in-depth, focused research-based study that must contribute to the generation of new knowledge in the field. We encourage students to identify a research topic in conjunction with their supervisor early on the first year of registration. Research topics generally address aspects related to World Trade Organization (WTO) rules and agreements; free trade agreements and regional trade agreements; tariffs and customs duties; intellectual property rights and the protection of international trade; dispute settlement mechanisms in international trade; the impact of international trade on developing countries; e-commerce and digital trade; trade and investment policies; trade sanctions; as well as trade and sustainable development, including environmental or labour standards. Note that this is not an extensive list, and there may be additional topics depending on the current developments and evolving trends in international trade law.

  1. Employment options or further study opportunities after completion of the programme

Completing a LLM degree in International Trade Law at the NWU can open up a wide range of employment opportunities in the public, private and non-profit sectors. Some of the potential career paths include:

  • Law firms specialising in international trade and investment law, advising clients on trade disputes, trade negotiations and trade agreements.
  • Government agencies such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), trade departments in various countries, or national trade agencies involved in promoting exports and negotiating trade agreements.
  • International organisations, including the United Nations, the World Bank, or regional economic organisations that deal with trade and development issues.
  • Consultancy firms providing expert advice and support to businesses, governments, and non-profit organisations on trade-related matters.
  • Trade associations and chambers of commerce representing the interests of businesses in trade-related policymaking and negotiations.
  • Academic institutions - teaching and conducting research in international trade law and related fields.
  • NGOs and non-profit organisations  working on trade-related issues such as fair trade, sustainable development, and human rights.

It is important to note that the exact employment options will vary depending on a candidate's qualifications, experience, and skills, as well as the current job market conditions.


Seminar Programme 2024 1st Semester