LLM Masters of Laws: International Law, Conflict and Security


Study international conflict and security law from an operational perspective with leading experts in the field


This LLM provides you with a unique opportunity to study the legal aspects of international conflict and security from an operational perspective.

Designed with the needs of practitioners in mind, the programme will equip you with a comprehensive understanding of international conflict and security law, including the rules relating to the conduct of hostilities, peacetime military deployments, cyber operations and post-conflict governance. Consistent with its hands-on approach, the LLM will develop your professional and personal skills, including through a simulated command post exercise that will test your knowledge and aptitude in a practical setting.

You will be taught by a team of experts who are leading authorities in their field and whose work is at the forefront of international debates. Our team has extensive experience of working with government agencies, international organisations and non-governmental bodies. Throughout the programme, you will also benefit from a broad range of events relevant to your studies, including guest lectures and seminars, and be part of an exclusive scholarly community.

The programme will be of particular interest to students wishing to pursue a career with government departments, the armed forces, international organisations or NGOs as well as to professionals seeking to deepen their understanding of the law.


The use of military force is one of the enduring features of international relations. Force is a source of international conflict as much as it is an essential constituent of security.

Against this background, the LLM in International Law, Conflict and Security is designed to offer students a comprehensive understanding of international conflict and security law from an operational perspective.

Adopting an operational perspective has two benefits. First, it enables you to focus on subjects that are  relevant and necessary for a career in this field. The conduct of military operations engages a wide variety of legal regimes. A lawyer working in this area should be familiar with all relevant aspects of the law. Our LLM is therefore designed to enable you to engage with key subjects in depth and also acquire a comprehensive understanding of cross-cutting legal issues.

Second, an operational perspective allows you to adopt a practical approach to the subject. Building on the extensive first-hand experience of our team of experts, the LLM accords priority to the study of the challenges that arise from the application of the law in the real world. Our approach is exemplified by the two-day exercise that you will undertake as part of your studies at the end of the teaching year. 

You will study four taught modules, each worth 30 credits, and complete a dissertation, worth 60 credits. To qualify for the LLM in International Law, Conflict and Security, you must complete at least three modules from the list of specialist modules that make up this specialised LLM and write your dissertation on a subject in the subject area. The list of specialised modules is set out below.

Please note that the modules available in a particular year may vary depending on staff availability and research interests, new topics of study, timetabling and student demand.

LAWM640 Dissertation in topic related to International Law, Conflict and Security Law 60
LAWM037 The Use of Force in International Law 15
LAWM683 International Criminal Law 30
LAWM097 International Law of Armed Conflict 30
LAWM115 Advanced Questions of the Law of Armed Conflict 30
LAWM716 The International Law of Military Operations 30
LAWM116 The International Law of Cyber Operations 30
LAWM114 Post-Conflict Governance, Rule of Law and Justice 30
LAWM117 The Law of International Organisations 30


Under the LLM in International Law, Conflict and Security, you may select up to 30 credits worth of modules from other specialist LLM modules or from courses offered by other departments. You may find the following LLM modules of particular interest.

LAWM671 International Human Rights Law 30
LAWM099 International Refugee Law 30
LAWM670 European Convention On Human Rights 30


The choice of modules enables you to tailor your studies to suit your academic and professional interests. For example, students interested in operational law may choose to study The International Law of Military Operations (LAWM716) and the International Law of Armed Conflict (LAWM097) in term one and The Use of Force in International Law (LAWM037) and Advanced Questions of the Law of Armed Conflict (LAWM115, The Law of International Organisations (LAWM117) or The International Law of Cyber Operations (LAWM116) in term two.

Students with a particular interest in international justice may choose to study The International Law of Armed Conflict (LAWM097), International Criminal Law (LAWM683), Post-Conflict Governance, Rule of Law and Justice (LAWM114) and complement these modules with a course on human rights law (LAWM671), refugee law (LAWM099) or a relevant module outside law.

NB: this pathway is new for 2017 and is still in the process of accreditation and development; modules and programme information may be added and amended during this period, as this process is completed.

At Exeter, we pride ourselves on our scholarship and wider contribution to the legal and policy community. We regularly contribute to debates on the most pressing questions facing our discipline and engage in research that is at the forefront of international legal scholarship. We play a leading role in international professional networks and associations. Many of us have a background in legal practice and regularly work with governments, international organizations and non-governmental bodies, both in the United Kingdom and abroad. Our collective experience of training military legal advisors and other legal professionals is unparalleled among academic institutions.

The LLM in International Law, Conflict and Security is designed to bring our unique expertise and experience to bear in our teaching. Below you find a list of members of staff affiliated with the LLM in International Law, Conflict and Security.

Dr Agnieszka Jachec-Naele is an expert researcher and lecturer with practical insight into how international law is applied in during armed conflict and in post conflict environments. Dr Jachec-Naele has over five years’ experience alone working in the field missions in south eastern Europe, where she specialised in monitoring domestic war crimes trials and in the enforcement of human rights standards in emerging democracies. She has a unique field experience in serving throughout with the Kosovo crisis and in post-war Croatia with the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). She has subsequently served as a research fellow for the British Institute of International and Comparative Law where she developed research specialising in the laws of armed conflict and recently as Associated Fellow in Chatham House.

Dr Jachec-Naele’s recent work includes a monograph on military objectives and ongoing work on the law of targeting and cultural property in armed conflict.

Dr Kubo Mačák is a Senior Lecturer in law. His research interests span general international law, international humanitarian law and the law of cyber security. He completed his doctoral thesis, entitled Internationalized Armed Conflicts in International Law, under the supervision of Professor Stefan Talmon at Oxford. Dr Mačák has been a Europaeum visiting researcher at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies and the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva, a visiting researcher at the Institute of Public International Law at the University of Bonn, and a Research Fellow of the Minerva Center for the Rule of Law under Extreme Conditions at the University of Haifa, Israel. He worked at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague and at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania. He has also served as a law clerk to the President of the Constitutional Court of the Slovak Republic. He is currently serving as an expert member of the International Humanitarian Law Group of the Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Uses of Outer Space (MILAMOS) project. In 2012, he was awarded the Diploma of the Hague Academy of International Law.

Dr Mačák’s recent work include publications on the legal aspects of cyber operations, State responsibility and humanitarian assistance, as well as ongoing research on the military uses of outer space.

Dr Aurel Sari is a Senior Lecturer in Law, specializing in public international law. His work focuses mainly on questions of operational law, including the law of armed conflict, the legal status of foreign armed forces and the application of human rights law in deployed operations. Dr Sari has published widely in leading academic journals on status of forces agreements, peace support operations, the legal aspects of European security and defence policy and the law of armed conflict. Dr Sari maintains close working relationships with legal practitioners in the armed forces. Since 2014, he has been a Fellow of the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps and has taken part in a number of military exercises as an augmentee. Dr Sari lectures regularly on the subject of international law and military operations in the UK and abroad. He has contributed to training courses for military legal advisors on behalf of UK Army Legal Services, the RAF Legal Branch, the International Institute of Humanitarian Law at San Remo, the Austrian Ministry of Defence, the European Security and Defence College and NATO School Oberammergau. He is a member of the ILA Study Group on The Conduct of Hostilities under International Humanitarian Law and the Committee of the UK National Group of the International Society for Military Law and the Law of War.

Dr Sari’s recent research includes the legal aspects of hybrid warfare, the impact of human rights law on the armed forces and the legal status of foreign visiting forces under international law.

Dr Julia Schmidt joined the University of Exeter as a lecturer in law in 2016. Julia's research focuses on the European Union as an international actor, and in particular on the EU's common security and defence policy and on military crisis management operations. In addition, her research interests include regional security, the role of regional actors within the responsibility to protect, the use of force and economic sanctions. Before coming to Exeter, Julia was a lecturer in European law at The Hague University of Applied Sciences. Between 2012 and 2015, she was a research fellow at the University of Nottingham, School of Law and a member of the Nottingham International Law and Security Centre (NILSC). Julia also worked as a wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin at the Institute for Public International Law at the University of Bonn (2011-2012). She acted as one of the country experts (Germany) on the project 'Access to citizenship in Europe' (EUCITAC) run by a consortium of European Universities. She is a qualified but non-practising lawyer in Germany.

Professor Michael N. Schmitt is a Professor of Public International Law at Exeter Law School, the Charles H. Stockton Professor and Chairman of the Stockton Center for the Study of International Law at the United States Naval War College and Francis Lieber Distinguished Scholar at the Lieber Institute of the United States Military Academy at West Point. He is also a Fellow at Harvard Law School's Program on International Law and Armed Conflict, Senior Fellow at the NATO Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, Senior Research Associate at Hebrew University, and General Editor of International Law Studies. Professor Schmitt was previously Professor of International Law at Durham University, Dean of the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Germany, and General Editor of the Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law.  Before joining the Marshall Center, Professor Schmitt served 20 years in the United States Air Force as a judge advocate specializing in operational and international law.  Professor Schmitt has held numerous visiting appointments and served on many boards of institutions, learned and professional societies, and publications dealing with international law. The author of over 150 scholarly publications, his academic degrees include a D.Litt (Durham University), JD (University of Texas), LL.M (Yale University), MA (Naval War College), and MA (Texas State University). He is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts. Also a member of the Secretary of State's Advisory Committee on International Law, in 2017 he was awarded the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana by the President of Estonia for his work in promoting cyber defence.

Professor Schmitt’s recent work includes numerous publications on the international law applicable to cyber operations, the law of targeting, air law and military operations and the conduct of investigations under international humanitarian law.

International legal scholarship has a long and distinguished tradition at Exeter, stretching back to the 1970s. Today, Exeter Law School is home to a vibrant community of scholars and students of international law.

Our research interests and activities span a wide range of subjects and branches of public international law. Our work reflects the idea that international law is not merely an academic subject, but also an area of legal practice. Many of us have first-hand experience in the application of international law and we maintain strong links with practitioners outside academia. We also benefit from close links with colleagues working in related disciplines, including members of Exeter University’s Strategy and Security Institute.

We are an inclusive community and encourage students at all levels to attend and participate in our events. We regularly convene events on current and emerging developments at Exeter. Recent events include an expert workshop on the legal aspects of hybrid warfare, an international conference on operational law and a workshop on the impact of the law of armed conflict on general international law.