Law: Transnational Legal Studies

European and international law in a social context

Transnational Legal Studies: International and European Law in Context

You will study the core principles of European and international law in depth, and go beyond this to understand the role of law in a globalizing world, and the challenges that it raises to our traditional ideas of sovereignty and democracy. Optional courses allow for specialization, and whether your interests are in human rights, economic law, constitutional principles, security and terrorism, equality and justice, or cross-border phenomena such as global warming and the internet, the friendly and diverse department of Transnational Legal Studies will help you achieve a Master of Law degree (LLM) which takes you further in your career.

Issues the programme deals with

Some examples of issues the Master's programme deals with are:

  • Is there a way of achieving a Europe without barriers to movement while still preserving national identities and laws?
  • How are ideas of risk and security used in international law to create new legal regimes and justify interventions?
  • Is the European crisis of economics, society, and identity all about a dysfunctional EU, or is it a crisis of aimless and path-dependent nations?
  • Is law-making at the international and European level effective, democratic and necessary? Whose interests does it serve?
  • How are economics, politics and individual rights related at the transnational level?

Create your brochure

Transnational Legal Studies is a full-time, one-year graduate programme, organized as a specialized track in the VU Master of Laws (LLM). Its curriculum should appeal to you if you want to pursue a career related to European and international issues and if you are passionate about exploring the political, economic and social context of law. You will follow: 

  • European and International Law, an intensive, advanced level course taught conjointly by international and European law scholars
  • Transnational Law in Social Context, an innovative course providing political and social perspectives on transnational legal processes
  • Further courses of your choice, allowing you to specialize in areas such as European economic law (EU internal market law, competition law), human rights law (European human rights protection, EU antidiscrimination law) or public international law (international humanitarian law, irregular migration)

The curriculum offers the possibility to undertake an internship or a period of study abroad. Former students have been working as interns in law firms, but also at international organizations, such as the UNHCR in Brussels.

Law: Transnational Legal Studies courses in the study guide

Programme calendar

As transnational legal regulation is becoming more and more dense, both on the international and the domestic level, the need for transnationally trained lawyers continues to increase. Apart from the traditional legal professions (i.e. within the judiciary and national bars), transnationally trained lawyers can be employed by many organisations. Future employers include: EU institutions, the UN, international organizations, ngo's, national governments, and international and national law firms. In addition, the programme is an excellent choice if you wish to pursue an academic career after graduating. All in all, students specialising in transnational law have good employment prospects: in the Netherlands, in their home countries, and on the international labour market.

  • The programme is distinctive in having united European law and international public law in one programme. This approach allows you take a broad, and at the same time in-depth, analysis of transnational legal issues.
  • The programme is unique because it analyses law and legal systems as social phenomena. The programme is a good choice if you are interested in understanding law in its social, political or economic context.
  • Flexibility and freedom in designing your programme, allowing you to specialize (in international of European law) or not. You can design your programme in line with your personal preferences, choosing to focus on international law, European law, domestic law, human rights law, economic law, labour law and social rights, or combine these areas
  • Within the programme you will encounter lecturers and researchers from various national backgrounds and disciplines (see .
  • It is possible to combine the master track Transnational Legal Studies with another master track within the master ‘Rechtsgeleerdheid/Law’ such as International Migration and Refugee Law or ‘Dutch Constitutional and Administrative Law (Staats- en Bestuursrecht)'.
  • Life in Amsterdam is affordable in comparison with some other large European cities.
  • There is an easy and fast procedure for obtaining a study visa for the Netherlands (see for more information under Visa and Insurance).
  • After you have completed your master, you can apply for a residence permit in the Netherlands for the purpose of searching a job (for a maximum of one year). 

European Law 
Research in the section European Law has several interacting themes, such as: 

  • European constitutional law;
  • The role of social and environmental interests in European economic law;
  • The development of European criminal law;
  • Issues of sovereignty and pluralism, more particularly with respect to migrants’ rights;
  • International trade;
  • The structure and competences of the EU. 

Public International Law
Research of the section Public International Law focuses on the following themes:

  • International peace and security;
  • International economic law;
  • International legal regulation of migration;
  • Theory of international law;
  • The relation between international law and international politics.

Sandra Campos

Alumna (Peru)

Sandra TLS

"My time at VU Amsterdam has absolutely broadened my horizons and has equipped me with the knowledge and skills necessary for a successful international career in the field of law."

Overview Law: Transnational Legal Studies




1 year (fulltime)



1 April for students from outside the EU. 1 June for EU-students with a non-Dutch degree. 15 July for all other students.


1 February or 1 September




Economics, Business and Law

Laurens Lagaaij


Laurens Lagaaij TLS

"The teachers stimulate debate and force you to articulate your own opinion, and the curriculum is built up to train your academic writing so you are equipped with the right skills to write your final thesis."

Student experiences

Sandra TLS

"My decision to pursue a Masters in Law at VU Amsterdam was certainly the right one. Besides being located in one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, VU Amsterdam offers a unique specialization in Transnational Legal Studies that no other universities have. This programme offers students the possibility to study International Law without the constraints of the traditional private/public dichotomy. You are encouraged to critically look at law from multiple perspectives, and include in your analysis the political and social factors that shape law and vice versa. The cultural diversity in the classrooms is definitely an advantage for this sort of discussion." 

"The professors' renowned academic and professional experience was inspiring. I really enjoyed the content of the courses and the use of real-life examples for teaching." 
"My time at VU Amsterdam has absolutely broadened my horizons and has equipped me with the knowledge and skills necessary for a successful international career in the field of law." 

Sandra Campos, alumna (Peru) 

Laurens Lagaaij TLS

"International law to me has always been the most fascinating and complex discipline of legal studies, one that deals with moral issues, political reality and the very essence of what constitutes law. The great thing about Transnational Legal Studies is the ability to adapt it to your interests. You can choose courses according to what direction within international law you prefer: you could go for public international law, European private law, or something in between. " 

"Another unique aspect of this Masters in Law is the focus on interdisciplinary research and specific academic movements that help you view international law through a completely different lens. The teachers stimulate debate and force you to articulate your own opinion, and the curriculum is built up to train your academic writing so you are equipped with the right skills to write your final thesis." 
"Finally, there are opportunities to transition into your professional career: the International Law Clinic has you apply your research skills for real clients and the teachers are more than willing to help you start an academic career or apply for a PhD scholarship. Plus, if you combine this programme with a Dutch Bachelor in Law, you will have both a Dutch law degree and the international LL.M degree." 

Laurens Lagaaij, alumnus 

Naomi Mohamed


Naomi Mohammed TLS Testimonial

"There is a vibrant community of students and scholars who are all passionate about international law. That's very motivating." 

Dutch students

Admission requirements and application for Dutch students with a Dutch degree

15 July
If you apply with an international degree, follow the instructions for international students.

Questions on admission and application 
If you have a Dutch degree and you have any questions on admission or application, please contact

General questions 
If you have any general questions after reading the website, please contact our Communications department:

International students

The admission requirements for students with an international degree (non-Dutch) are as follows:       
The Master of Law: Transnational Legal Studies programme welcomes applications from both law graduates and non-law graduates. Applicants should fit one of the following profiles: 

  • They have a Bachelor's degree in Law.
  • They have a degree in a subject other than law, but they have completed at least 60 EC of law subjects, including some international and European Law. This may be relevant for people with PPLE (politics, psychology, law and economics) or other ‘Law and (..)’ degrees.
  • They do not fit the profiles above, but nevertheless they have a sound and relevant academic background and considerable experience in the field of law. University College students, or those with liberal arts or political science degrees may fit this profile. 
  • Applicants should have a good proficiency of the English language and should be able to provide results of an English test
             Please check this page for more information about the English requirements. Also, check the FAQ for possibilities for exemption

Your previous education is compared to and valued through the UK Naric comparison system and, if necessary, through the Nuffic comparison and validation programmes. Especially students from non-EU countries should factor in the possibility that a relevant Bachelor’s degree in Law could not be sufficient to enter into this LLM programme and their application could result in a rejection. The Faculty of Law does not offer any pre-Master's programmes. 

Application procedure and deadlines 
For both Dutch and international students, it is possible to send in an application from as early as November in the academic year preceding the academic year you would like to start with the programme.

The deadlines for application are: 

1 April For students from outside the EU. 
1 June For EU students with a non-Dutch degree.
15 July For all other students.
Please note: in case international students would like to apply for university housing, we cannot guarantee this housing if the application is made after 1 April.

Please note that the deadline for applying for the VU Fellowship scholarship programme is set to 1 February. You would need to apply for the study programme before that time as well.

Registering via Studielink 
Studielink is the national online system for application and registration with Dutch universities. Please follow the procedure below in order to register with Studielink.

  1. Go to Studielink and apply for your Studielink account. You will receive an e-mail with your Studielink login details within minutes. Please also check your spam folder for this e-mail!
  2. Login to Studielink, enter your personal data, set a personal password, and click "Send my Details".
  3. Follow the link "To my personal page", where you click "New Enrolment Application".
  4. Select the correct academic year, select "University" and choose the relevant course category.
  5. With "Search further by", pick "name of institution".
  6. In the next screen, choose "Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam" (official Dutch name of VU Amsterdam), and select the programme 'Rechtsgeleerdheid' or 'Masters of Laws' (Transnational Legal Studies is a specialization of this programme).
  7. Complete the next steps and click "Send my enrolment application".

If you have a non-Dutch nationality and/or a non-Dutch diploma, Studielink will send you a message saying that you need to send documents to enable us to verify your educational prerequisites and/or your personal details. Your application will be send to the Faculty of Law for verification.

Once you have completed you application in Studielink, please inform the international student advisor of the Faculty of Law Laura Smit, so she can check your application and keep track of it:

VU Fellowship Programme (VUFP)

VU Amsterdam provides scholarships through the VU Fellowship Programme. This scholarship is for students who have excellent study results and are strongly motivated. 
More information about VUFP scholarship 

Holland Scholarship Programme (HSP)

The Holland Scholarship Programme (HSP) is financed by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, Dutch research universities, and universities of applied sciences. Students eligible for this scholarship are students from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) who are applying for a Master’s programme in the Netherlands. The scholarship amounts to €5,000 per annum.
More information about HSP scholarship

Other scholarships

  • Students in China can contact their local NESO offices (Netherlands Education Support Office) in either Beijing: NESO Office Beijing.
  • Indonesian students can contact their NESO Office Jakarta for more detailed information.
  • All other students may contact Nuffic, the Netherlands Organization for International Cooperation in Higher Education, or visit Grantfinder, about studying in the Netherlands and financial aid, or their local Royal Netherlands Embassy.

See for all general information about VU scholarships.

Visa/residence permit

Students from non-EU/EEA and Visa required countries who will stay for a period longer than 3 months, are required to obtain a permit for temporary stay (MVV- Machtiging tot Voorlopig Verblijf) in order to enter the Netherlands. The university applies for this visa by a so-called ‘accelerated visa procedure’. Students can not apply for a MVV themselves. 
More information on the application for your residence permit 


Before you come to the Netherlands, you should inquire whether your current health insurance will suffice in the Netherlands or if you need a supplementary cover. If you are insured with your own company for your stay in the Netherlands, take a proof with you that you are. 
More information on insurances

Contact a student ambassador

Some international students are happy to tell you about their experiences with living and studying in Amsterdam. These Student Ambassadors come from all over the world and have attended various bachelor's and master's programmes.

Our student ambassadors are listed on the webpage below. Reach out to them and get their stories about being a student at VU Amsterdam!

Information for international students > International degree holders > Contact our student ambassadors 

Questions on admission and application 
If you have an international degree, please contact our Admission Officer, ms. Laura Smit:

General questions 
If you have any general questions after reading the website, please contact our Communications department:

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