About the LL.M. in International and Comparative Disability Law and Policy

The Master of Laws in International and Comparative Disability Law and Policy, comprising course work and the preparation of a dissertation, is available both on a full-time basis over one academic year and on a part-time basis over two academic years.  The programme comprises two semesters of course work and the preparation of a dissertation.  It is designed for graduates who wish to work in the field of disability law and policy, in government, non-governmental organisations at national and international level, as well as in private practice.  The programme focuses on the dynamics of legal and social change including contemporary law reform challenges in the disability law. 

1. Entry Requirements

To be admitted to the LL.M., candidates must be approved by the School of Law. An interview may form part of the selection process. Applications will be considered from those candidates who satisfy one or other of the following prerequisites:
(a) Candidates who hold, or expect to hold by the term of entry a degree in law, which the School requires to have been awarded with Second Class Honours, Grade I or its equivalent.
(b) Candidates who hold, or expect to hold by the term of entry, an interdisciplinary degree which includes a substantial law component, and in which they have attained a Second Class Honours (Grade I) standard or its equivalent.
(c) Candidates who hold a degree other than a law degree, in which they have obtained Second Class Honours Grade I standard, or equivalent, and who are qualified legal practitioners.
(d) Exceptionally, non-law graduates with Second Class Honours Grade One who have such other educational and/or professional experience in Law or Disability Rights, as in the opinion of the School of Law, qualifies them to read for the LL.M.
(e) In exceptional circumstances candidates whose grade at primary degree is below H.2.1 standard but who can demonstrate appropriate relevant academic accomplishments may be considered.

2. Regulations

2.1 Candidates for the LLM in International and Comparative Disability Law and Policy must pursue a course of full- time study of not less than one academic year.  Candidates may not simultaneously pursue any other degree course during this period. A limited number of students may be allowed to pursue their studies on a part-time basis over two academic years.
2.2 Candidates are required to attend the prescribed courses in the School of Law in accordance with the requirements of each course.
2.3 Courses may be of year-long or semester duration, and are organised into modules which carry a credit unit weighting or value reflecting the extent and difficulty of the course concerned.
2.4 LL.M. candidates may, with the permission of the School of Law, spend a period or periods pursuing research and/or courses at other universities or Law Schools for academic credit.
2.5 In order to be eligible for the award of the LL.M. degree, a candidate must present a minor dissertation (30 ECTS), Foundational Theoretical Framework in Disability Law and Policy (10 ECTS) and complete such additional course modules from the list of courses offered in any particular year so as to accumulate a minimum of 90 ECTS overall.
2.6 Subject to 2.5 above, course modules must be chosen from the subject option schedule (as set out below) which is available from the Law School and which is subject to change on an annual basis.  Not all courses may be available in a particular year.  Applicants for admission to the programme should check the courses available in the relevant academic year.
2.7 Candidates who are registered to take the Programme on a part-time basis shall in First Year take LW Foundational Theoretical Framework in Disability Law and Policy as well as courses to a total of 20 ECTS, amounting to 30 ECTS overall.  In Second Year students must complete courses amounting to 30 ECTS and the Dissertation of 30 ECTS, amounting to 90 ECTS overall.

2.8 Courses may be examined by examination, written assignment, or project work on placement at dates as specified by the lecturers concerned.  The Dissertation must be submitted by the date as specified by the Law School.
2.9 Honours are awarded in accordance with the following standards: First Class Honours, an aggregate of (about) 70%; Second Class Honours, Grade I, an aggregate of (about) 60%; Second Class Honours, Grade II, an aggregate of (about) 50%.  A pass is 40%.
2.10 All subjects must be passed individually.  A candidate who fails a single subject may, at the discretion of the School of Law, re-present for that subject.  
2.11 LL.M. candidates may, with the permission of the Programme Director, undertake up to 15 ECTS from a menu of courses provided by other LL.M. programmes delivered by the School of Law.  Such permission will be granted in line with any rules and regulations governing inter-operability.

3. Subject Schedule

Obligatory  Subjects
Code Subject ECTS
LW Foundational Theoretical Framework in Disability Law and Policy 10
LW Dissertation 30
Optional Subjects
Code Subject ECTS
  Legal Capacity Law and Policy 10
  Law and Policy on Independent Living 10
  International Disability Human Rights Clinic 10
  Equality Law 10
  Advanced Legal Research Methods 10
  Advocacy and Access to Justice 10
  Mental Health Law and Policy 10
  Inclusive Education Law and Policy 10
  Regional Disability Law and Policy 10


LW552 Foundational Theoretical Framework for Disability Law and Policy (10 ECTS)

This course will take you through various theories which have underpinned the disability rights movement we see today. We cover concepts of equality, the medical, social and human rights models of disability, normalization, capabilities theories, post-structuralist and post-modern scholarship on disability, the philosophy of the independent living movement, and the development of the human rights approach to disability enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

LW558 Legal Capacity Law and Policy (10 ECTS)

This course will begin by defining legal capacity and examining its evolution throughout legal history. We will then look at philosophical conceptions of personhood and explore how the law regulates personhood via legal capacity systems. Traditional approaches to legal capacity will be analyzed, with a focus on the purpose of the legislation as well as its effects on the persons it is applied to.  Once we have a clear understanding of legal capacity from the legal and philosophical perspectives, we will examine the drafting of Article 12 of the CRPD, which guarantees the right to legal capacity on an equal basis for all. We will look at the article’s meaning and the obligations it imposes on State Parties to the convention. Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is either an evolution of positive reform trends, or a revolution, depending on your perspective.   Finally, we will examine legal capacity law reform around the globe, exploring both political advocacy methods as well as whether the substance of the reforms is in compliance with Article 12.


LW556 Law and Policy on Independent Living (10 ECTS)

This module will introduce students to law and policy relevant to independent living from a national, regional and international perspective. The course will explore issues such as the legal basis concerning the right to independent living and personal assistance, different funding arrangements (direct payments, individual budgets) and support service. Finally, it will look at the interconnectedness of independent living with other rights, in particular the right to work, to fully realise inclusion in the community.


LW483 Advanced Legal Research Methods (10 ECTS)

This course will build on the research skills already acquired by students in their primary degree programmes. It will be closely linked with and designed to facilitate the writing components and the minor thesis requirement of all students on the programme. The emphasis will be on practical exercises which will include elements of the following: textual analysis, database training, literature review, research presentation, abstract writing, report writing, research evaluation.


LW5101 International Disability Human Rights Clinic (10 ECTS)

This module focuses on the development of clinical legal skills and their application to national and international disability human rights work - such as the preparation of submissions on national policy, amicus briefs for regional and international courts, the development of shadow reports to UN treaty bodies and other inputs to UN agencies on issues of disability rights law. To achieve this, students will work on a practical assignment from a community partner and lead legal information clinics as part of the Disability Legal Information Clinic (DLIC) in the CDLP. Before completing the practical assignments, the module will explore key provisions of Irish law and the CRPD and core skills for clinical research practice. ** PLEASE NOTE: This module runs across both Semester 1 and Semester 2 **


LW550 Advocacy and Access to Justice (10 ECTS)

This module will address the broad scope of access to justice for people with disabilities (including access to information, and to the systems and procedures used in the administration of justice). It will highlight how people with disabilities experience barriers in accessing justice, and how these barriers can be redressed, through statutory advocacy services and other innovative rights-enforcement mechanisms.


LW562 Regional Disability Law and Policy (10 ECTS)

This module will give an overview of various regional approaches to disability law and policy as a way of transposing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and as a way of stimulating region-wide reform.  The course will provide a survey of regional organizations and how, if at all, they are beginning to advance the goals of the UN CRPD through their own processes.  It will start with implementation/monitoring at the UN level and then move into the various regional arrangements. It will include innovation in current comparative law which may include, Australia, ASEAN region, European Union, Latin America, Scandinavia, Israel, China, the Organisation of American States (OAS), the African Union (AU). 


LW553 Inclusive Education Law and Policy (10 ECTS)

The purpose of this course is to explore the key challenges facing the process of inclusive education reform that is underway worldwide as well as in Ireland.  Effectively, this is a law reform process that seeks to accommodate human difference within the education system, and is premised on the inherent equality of all persons and a rejection of the ‘separate but equal’ segregationist doctrine.  This move towards mainstream education, to truly inclusive education is not without its critics, with some championing the necessity for separate provision in certain situations (e.g. deaf community, and parents of children with autism).


LW561 Mental Health Law and Policy (10 ECTS)

The purpose of this course is to explore the key challenges facing mental health law and policy at the international, regional and national levels. Mental health law will be examined against international human rights norms and the needs of adults and children with psychosocial disabilities. This course will examine the legitimacy of laws and policies that provide for the involuntary detention and forcible treatment of persons from a civil and criminal law perspective. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the European Convention on Human Rights and decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, as well as other human rights instruments, will provide the basis for this critical evaluation. The course is also intended to raise awareness of some specific issues, including the impact of the power imbalances within the mental health system and the interaction of mental health laws with denials of legal capacity. Alternative legal models that support the assertion of, and respect for, a person’s own will and preferences will also be considered. National law will be analysed to provide a case study of some of these issues.


LW Dissertation (30 ECTS)

This module represents the concerted piece of work that is submitted by a candidate at the end of the programme. It will consist of a detailed analysis of a specific issue determined by the candidate in conjunction with his/her supervisor.