Course Overview

The LLM in International Migration and Refugee Law is the only course of its kind on offer in an Irish university. This unique programme enables students to develop their knowledge of international and regional law, policy and practice as it relates to the phenomena of international migration, human trafficking and refugee law.

Students can combine the study of international migration with specialised courses in international humanitarian law and peace operations, gender and law, child rights, and international criminal law.

The programme engages students with current developments on the human rights of migrants and refugees, globally, regionally and nationally. It includes unique practice-oriented teaching, allowing students to specialise in oral and written advocacy (legal and policy), strategic litigation, fact-finding and international development. 

Course highlights:

  • The Irish Centre for Human Rights is one the world’s premier university-based institutions for the study and promotion of human rights.  
  • Expert lecturers deliver programme modules. Our academics are internationally recognised scholars with world-class expertise and strong records of engagement and impact in the fields of international migration, human trafficking and refugee law. 
  • Unique qualification on the practice of migration and refugee law through specialised modules, clinical lawyering and advocacy training.
  • Excellent networks and links to leading international organisations and practitioners. 
  • Graduates will join a global alumni network of the Irish Centre for Human Rights, with options to pursue careers in the fields of migration, forced displacement, refugee law and policy, and human rights. Students are supported in seeking internship and work placement opportunities and provided with targeted career advice and supports.
  • Skills development is enhanced through practice-oriented teaching, allowing students to specialise in oral and written advocacy (legal and policy), strategic litigation, fact-finding and international development and transnational lawyering clinical skills.
  • Seminars and workshops with leading international practitioners in migration and refugee law and policy.
  • Career support with targeted career advice and assistance in seeking internship and work placement opportunities.
  • Field trips to the Hague and/or Strasbourg to visit leading international law institutions are optional.  
  • Assessment is primarily through research papers, presentations and minor thesis rather than exams.‌

Applications and Selections

Applications are made online via the University of Galway Postgraduate Applications System

Who Teaches this Course

Professor Siobhán Mullally

Professor Ray Murphy

Professor Shane Darcy

Dr Ciara Smyth

Professor Emeritus William Schabas

Dr Ekaterina Yahyaoui Krivenko 

Dr Anita Ferrara

‌‌Dr Maeve O'Rourke

Dr Edel Hughes

Professor Roja Fazaeli

Professor Anna Arstein-Kerslake

Dr Roisin Mulgrew 

Dr Illan Wall

Dr Rory Kelly

Dr Ciara Smyth
PhD, LL.M, LL.B, B.A.
Assistant Professor
Tower 2
Arts/Science Concourse
School of Law
University of Galway
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Dr Kathleen Cavanaugh
Irish Centre for Human Rights
NUI Galway
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Dr Maeve O'Rourke
Lecturer Above The Bar
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Prof. Donncha O'Connell
School of Law
Arts/Science Building
NUI Galway
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Prof Raymond Murphy
BA, LL.B, BL, M.LITT, Ph.D, Dip Arb Law
Personal Professor
Irish Centre For Human Rights
NUI Galway
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Prof Shane Darcy
B.A, L.L.M.,Ph.D.
Personal Professor
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Dr Anita Ferrara
B.Sc. PG Dip., M.Sc., PhD
Lecturer Above the Bar
T: 091492819
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Dr Ekaterina Yahyaoui
Senior Lecturer in Human Rights
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Requirements and Assessment

Key Facts

Entry Requirements

The Irish Centre for Human Rights welcomes students with undergraduate Level 8 degrees in disciplines such as law, political science, international relations, international development or social sciences. In cases where applicants come from a non-law background, the Irish Centre for Human Rights will consider academic background, relevant work experience, references and a personal statement. Applicants must normally have attained at primary degree level a result of Second Class Honours Grade 1, or equivalent. However, those falling short of this standard may be considered where they can demonstrate other appropriate academic accomplishments as well as relevant work experience.

International students should refer to the country-specific information section of the International Office website.

Additional Requirements

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)


1 year, full-time; 2 years, part-time

Next start date

September 2024

A Level Grades ()

Average intake


QQI/FET FETAC Entry Routes

Closing Date

See offer rounds website for information.

NFQ level

Mode of study

ECTS weighting



Course code


Course Outline

The one-year programme is divided into three four-month terms. The first term commences in September and runs through to December, the second term begins in January and ends in April, while the third term begins in May and terminates with the submission of a dissertation in mid-July. During the first two terms candidates are required to attend a full course load as prescribed in the Guidelines, while the third term is devoted entirely to the research required for the preparation of the final dissertation.

The two-year programme comprises part-time study, combining two semesters of course work the first year with a third semester the second year, devoted entirely to the research required for preparation of a final dissertation.

Students will undertake two core modules: one in International Migration Law and one in International Refugee Law.  These modules are taught by academics who are active researchers in the area of migration and/or refugee law and whose work has significant policy and practical impact at the national, regional and international levels.  Guest speakers who work in the field will also contribute to some seminars.  

Students will also undertake a number of optional modules and can choose from a wide suite of options, including a module on the Common European Asylum System and on human trafficking, as well as various human rights, international criminal law and international humanitarian law modules.

The degree of Master of Law in International Migration and Refugee Law is awarded by the School of Law at University of Galway.

Curriculum Information

Curriculum information relates to the current academic year (in most cases).
Course and module offerings and details may be subject to change.

Glossary of Terms

You must earn a defined number of credits (aka ECTS) to complete each year of your course. You do this by taking all of its required modules as well as the correct number of optional modules to obtain that year's total number of credits.
An examinable portion of a subject or course, for which you attend lectures and/or tutorials and carry out assignments. E.g. Algebra and Calculus could be modules within the subject Mathematics. Each module has a unique module code eg. MA140.
Some courses allow you to choose subjects, where related modules are grouped together. Subjects have their own required number of credits, so you must take all that subject's required modules and may also need to obtain the remainder of the subject's total credits by choosing from its available optional modules.
A module you may choose to study.
A module that you must study if you choose this course (or subject).
Required Core Subject
A subject you must study because it's integral to that course.
Most courses have 2 semesters (aka terms) per year, so a three-year course will have six semesters in total. For clarity, this page will refer to the first semester of year 2 as 'Semester 3'.

Year 1 (90 Credits)

OptionalLW5110: International Human Rights Law Clinic - 10 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW5111: Business and Human Rights 2 - 10 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW5112: Human Rights and Global Governance - 5 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW5106: Economic Social and Cultural Rights - 5 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW5107: International Child Rights - 5 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW455: Minority Rights - 5 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW471: International Humanitarian Law - 10 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW525: Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights - 5 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW530: Procedure Before International Criminal Courts - 5 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW5104: Islam and Human Rights II - 10 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW439: Advocacy, Activism and Public Interest Law - 10 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW561: Mental Health Law and Policy - 10 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW5116: Gender and Human Rights - 10 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW5117: International Human Rights Law - 10 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW5118: Public International Law - 10 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW5119: The Politics of Law - 10 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW5120: European Convention on Human Rights: Law and Politics - 10 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW5121: Transnational Lawyering - 5 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW5122: International Criminal Law - 10 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW5123: International Peace Operations - 10 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW5103: Islam and Human Rights I - 5 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW5124: Climate Justice - 5 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW5125: International Criminal Law: Issues and Application - 10 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW552: Foundational Theoretical Framework in Disability Law and Policy - 10 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW558: Legal Capacity Law and Policy - 10 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW5101: International Disability Human Rights Clinic - 10 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW562: Regional Disability Law and Policy - 10 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW551: Contemporary Challenges in Disability Law and Policy - 10 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW550: Advocacy and Access to Justice - 10 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW553: Inclusive Education Law and Policy - 10 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW556: Law and Policy on Independent Living - 10 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW5126: Critical Race Theory and Human Rights - 5 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW491: Equality Law: Principles & Thematic Application - 10 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW483: Advanced Legal Research & Method - 10 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW486: Theories of Judicial Activism - 10 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW5203: Advanced Comparative Law - 10 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW5205: Advanced Intellectual Property Law and Development - 10 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW5206: Global Issues in Contemporary Labour Law - 10 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW5208: European Consumer Law and Policy - 10 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW5209: Legal Skills: Commercial Practice, Advocacy and Dispute Resolution - 10 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW5211: EU External Relations Law - 10 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW5212: Vis Moot - 10 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW5214: Imprisonment and Rights - 10 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW575: Crime and Disorder - 10 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW5201: EU Competition Law - 10 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW5204: International Commercial Property Law - 10 Credits - Semester 1
OptionalLW5210: Commercial Law in Context - 10 Credits - Semester 1
RequiredLW450: Dissertation - 30 Credits - Semester 1
RequiredLW5105: Contemporary Issues in International Migration Law - 10 Credits - Semester 1
RequiredLW5114: International Refugee Law - 10 Credits - Semester 1
RequiredLW5113: The Common European Asylum System - 5 Credits - Semester 1
RequiredLW5109: European Migration Law - 5 Credits - Semester 1

Why Choose This Course?

Career Opportunities

  • Work with domestic, regional or international non-governmental or inter-governmental organisations specialising in migration or refugee protection, human trafficking or human rights law or policy;
  • Develop specialised legal practice skills in the expanding field of migration and asylum law and human rights;
  • For those already working in the area of international migration/ refugee law, develop a more solid conceptual and knowledge base to develop that role;
  • For those interested in pursuing PhD research, identify a suitable research question, method and theoretical framework for that research.

Who’s Suited to This Course

Learning Outcomes

Transferable Skills Employers Value

Work Placement

Study Abroad

Related Student Organisations

Course Fees

Fees: EU

€8,390 full-time; €4,320 part-time (including levy) p.a. 2024/25

Fees: Tuition

€8,250 full-time; €4,250 part-time p.a. 2024/25

Fees: Student levy

€140 full-time; €70 part-time p.a. 2024/25

Fees: Non EU

€19,000 p.a. (€19,140 p.a. including levy) 2024/25

Postgraduate students in receipt of a SUSI grant—please note an F4 grant is where SUSI will pay €4,000 towards your tuition (2023/24).  You will be liable for the remainder of the total fee.  An F5 grant is where SUSI will pay tuition up to a maximum of €6,270. SUSI will not cover the student levy of €140.

Postgraduate fee breakdown = Tuition (EU or NON EU) + Student levy as outlined above.

Note to non-EU students: learn about the 24-month Stayback Visa here

Find out More

Dr Ciara Smyth (Programme Director)
T: +353 91 492 917

Queries about this and other LLM programmes in the School of Law can also be directed to


Elisa Binon |   Monitoring Associate with IDMC

Studying the LL.M. in International Migration and Refugee Law and Policy at the Irish Centre for Human Rights was a transformative experience which enriched my applied knowledge of the field with essential theoretical knowledge. The academic and practical expertise of the lecturers provided unique and invaluable perspectives, enhancing my understanding of global migration issues. Thanks to the continued support of my LL.M. Director after graduating, I was able to quickly find work for the European Union Agency for Asylum in Malta as a refugee status determination officer. I am now working for the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre in Geneva

Jibran   |   Policy Analyst on Forced Displacement With UNDP

My journey in international law, human rights, and refugee law began in Syria amidst displacement and armed conflict. Navigating the Greek and European asylum systems as a protection seeker and working with international NGOs and UNHCR further shaped my path. Seeking to advance my expertise and career, I pursued the LLM programme at the Irish Centre for Human Rights (ICHR). The programme provided comprehensive modules on migration and refugee law, fostering critical thinking and offering exceptional faculty, notably Dr. Ciara Smyth's interactive lectures on Refugee Law and Policy. Post-LLM, I served as a UN Volunteer at OHCHR and I currently work with UNDP in Geneva as a Policy Analyst on Forced Displacement, collaborating with various stakeholders to advance durable solutions to ending displacement. The reputation of the ICHR within the UN system significantly contributed to my career opportunities, and the knowledge gained during my studies is vital in my daily work.

Luke Hamilton |   PhD student in International Refugee Law and LLM Graduate

I always thought that I wanted to work in the human rights field. However, it was through studying refugee law at the Irish Centre for Human Rights that my interest really crystallised. The interactive lectures and supportive staff inspired me to work towards a career promoting the rights of refugees and asylum seekers. I am currently applying the knowledge gained from my LLM studies in my work as Legal Officer with the Irish Refugee Council’s Independent Law Centre where I provide legal advice to people seeking asylum in Ireland. I remain very-much involved in the life of the Centre as I am also in the process of completing a PhD in International Refugee Law there, funded by the Irish Research Council.

2024 QS Subject Rankings: Top 150