LLM GUIDE - Master of Laws (LL.M.) Programs Worldwide

The LL.M. in Maritime Law

Postgraduate programs remain a key port of call for careers in one of the oldest fields of law.

By V. Wish, Jan 26, 2009

Thousands of years after the earliest known maritime law codes were written, the world remains reliant on the high seas for transportation and shipping. Over 90 percent of global trade is carried by sea, and the volume of goods shipped is increasing every year. There are now one million seafarers working on over 50,000 merchant ships registered in over 150 countries.

Given the economic importance of the industry, it is no surprise to find many lawyers specializing in Maritime Law in governments, international organizations, and the shipping and litigation departments of law firms around the world.

There are over 15 LL.M. programs worldwide that offer a focus on Maritime Law (sometimes also called Admiralty Law). Few law schools offer more than a class or two as part of their J.D. or LL.B. programs, so the LL.M. is generally the only option for lawyers who want to specialize in an academic setting.

"Many go to a firm and learn it, but it's not the same learning," says Aleka Mandaraka-Sheppard, founder and director of the London Shipping Law Centre at University College London (UCL). "It takes years to learn the hard way."

"The LL.M. puts things into focus," she says. "Those who haven't done it need to pick up the pieces here and there - like a jigsaw puzzle. It's not easy. Usually, they get there and become good lawyers, but it takes more time."

Many Maritime Law LL.M. programs offer similar sets of courses: Admiralty Law, Marine Insurance, Carriage of Goods by Sea, Law of the Sea, Shipping Regulation, as well as courses covering shipbuilding, salvage, towage, collisions, and liability. Some programs have also integrated environmental law components.

Martin Davies, director of the Tulane Maritime Law Center at Tulane University, says his program attracts two main groups of students: foreign lawyers already working in the field and US lawyers looking to specialize, or "do a year's worth of nothing but maritime law."

Where the action is

Tulane's Admiralty Law LL.M. program is the only major maritime LL.M. program in the United States. Most other programs are taught in Europe and Britain, including those at Bristol, Lund, Nottingham, Southampton, and Swansea, and the specialized institutes at the University of Oslo and the International Maritime Law Institute in Malta.

A few other programs are located in major commercial ports like Rotterdam, Cape Town, and Athens, where City University London plans to expand their Maritime Law program. Due to the growing importance of Singapore (and Asia as a whole) in shipping, the National University of Singapore (NUS) began an English-language Maritime Law program in 2007.

"Traditionally, Europe was where the centers of trade and maritime law were, and the businesses were located - the insurers, the shipbuilders, etc.," says Stephen Girvin, who directs the NUS Maritime Law LL.M. and graduate diploma programs. "But the last 25, 30, 40 years have seen a gradual move East. So Asia is becoming more and more important both in terms of the practice of law and the business."

Girvin says that his program not only attracts students from Asia, but also several lawyers from Europe, some of whom are looking to land a job in the region. The NUS program offers a few Asia-specific courses, but most are international in scope, reflecting the prevailing influence of English common law.

In Singapore, as anywhere else, lawyers who take a year off to study are not only looking to broaden their knowledge; they are also seeking a boost to their resume or a stepping stone into a law firm's shipping department. Can an LL.M. program deliver?

"There's no doubt that some employers will see it as indicator of interest if a student has pursued a master's program," says Girvin. "The chances that you have studied Maritime or Shipping Law as an undergraduate are negligible, simply because the courses tend to be offered at master's level."

Meanwhile Martin Davies says Tulane's program aims to get students "as well prepared for maritime practice as it is possible coming out of law school."

"I think that an LL.M. certainly helps a graduate's prospects," he says. "As we tell our students, it doesn't guarantee that they will get a job in the field. But it often means that at least they will get an interview, because they will clearly be regarded as employable."

Photo: Jaxer / Creative Commons


For more information about the programs mentioned above, and other law schools offering LL.M. programs in Maritime Law, please follow the links below.

Related Programs


  • Sadiya, Mon Oct 01, 2012 07:15 PM

    I really want to know the procedure on how to apply for the llm program. Pls help

  • Merle, Sun Mar 11, 2012 08:08 PM

    Kasam, Lloyds Academy has a distance learning programme via UCL. See their websites.

  • kasam, Thu Feb 09, 2012 01:13 PM

    Hi....any universities that offer that offers maritime masters programme online.

  • Dr Portia Ndlovu, Thu Dec 08, 2011 11:55 AM

    I just wanted to advise that the University of KwaZulu-Natal Durban has revived its LLM- Maritime Law Programme which started with the completion of the world class module of Marine Insurance Law (2011). The Institute of Maritime Law at the University of KwaZulu-Natal will have a website running with all this information and module information in the next few weeks.

    Kind regards

    Dr Portia Ndlovu (PhD), Maritime Law -Coordinator

  • Mira , Sat Aug 20, 2011 12:06 AM

    The University of Hull in the UK has a very good lecturer in Maritime law.

    As part of the undergraduate programe there are two courses:
    1. Carriage of goods by sea
    2.Admiralty law

    I believe that there is also a specialised LLM in Maritime law.

    I took the courses as part of my undergraduate specialisation and think that they gave me a valuable insight.

    The lecturer in charge of the program is Dr Richard [email protected]

    Good luck.

  • BONANI NDLOVU, Wed Aug 10, 2011 10:26 AM

    This is one of the greatest and most exciting programs l have evr dreamt of. lts a few universities that offer courses in this field. Thank you very much for the information, l'm sure its gooing to be of much help as l persue my dream in beng an expert in maritime law....

  • Doerte, Thu Jun 30, 2011 01:52 PM

    what about the university of utrecht? i found it quite interesting as well...

  • Ernest Muchu Toh, Fri Mar 18, 2011 09:02 AM

    Little wonder that despite the importance of Maritime transport contemporary business world, very few states, as evident by the Law programs of their Universities take maritime studies as part of their curriculum. The reason may be partly due to the fact that many states are not bordered by deep oceans or seas to support this system of transport. However, as the main transport system where the world\'s 90 of goods\' exchange is carried out, all states are affected.

    To the law graduate who specializes in the area of maritime stand a greater chance to be employed. Many universities are faced with a continuous deficit of staff in this area of study.

    Choosing maritime law in my humble opinion will be a better opinion.

  • ashu tambe, Wed Jan 12, 2011 06:10 PM

    i really want o get the procedures on how to apply for this programm. Am very much intersted in the courses.
    [email protected]

  • osaemedike ndidi, Wed Sep 08, 2010 01:03 PM

    since i did a maritime law in my undergraduate days i knew i had a future in maritime law. i want an LL M which combines international maritime law and laws of the sea. please keep me informed.

  • kurniawan desiarto, Wed Dec 23, 2009 04:33 AM

    Im very intersting with The LL.M. in Maritim Law, because in Indonesia, my country as state of archipelago is separated by the sea and ocean. Consist of 18.110 islands. Then, about Maritim Law not develop since Juanda Declaration. Although Indonesia as maritim state but human development index is law. More over, law enforcement in maritim law still weak.

    If only i can follow The LL.M. in Maritim Law, and after graduates i\'ll dedicate to my country for develope maritim law.

  • edison, Sat Nov 28, 2009 09:33 AM

    I has been a thirdmate in china,now i work in china jiangsu MSA.I want to enter the LL.M. in Maritime Law of oslo university.Can you gei some suggestions? Thank you.

  • Soviet, Thu Nov 26, 2009 03:57 AM

    I must notice that no one pointed out University of Plymouth. In my opinion it has very strong Maritime Law course.

    P.S. if you read comment above UoP fall under first category.

  • hababa, Fri Mar 20, 2009 05:38 PM

    Correct but one needs to consider whether the specialisation in maritime law is well-spread in a School or it is a few people in a School trying to run a LLM programme with the assistance of part-timers and visiting guests. The ones which fall into the second category (trying to run a programme with one or two peope are):
    In the UK:
    London Metropolitan

    If you end up ina place like that you do not have much chance of getting insight of the practice or gain practical expertise

  • Halikaa, Wed Mar 11, 2009 12:04 AM

    This article, in essence, states all that I researched for two years before I decided to apply to a program. I appreciate the validation and its insights.

  • aishwarya chandrasekhar, Sun Feb 01, 2009 05:57 AM

    not many universities offer an LLm course in maritime law (admiralty law), this article has helped me a lot as it specifies all the universities around the world that offer this course. this article will prove to be the starting point for any student who is interested in the feild.

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