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Postgraduate study in the School of Law

LLM and PGDip specialisations, March 2024

  • General (Law)
  • Commercial and Business Law
  • Corporate Law
  • Environmental Law
  • Human Rights Advocacy and Litigation
  • Information and Communications Law
  • International Law
  • International Law and Economics
  • Labour Law
  • Pension Funds Law
  • Tax Law (Part-time only)
  • Labour Dispute Resolution Practice

Find our more about our specialisations

General (Law)

This programme gives lawyers and legal scholars the chance to broaden and deepen their knowledge in a range of legal disciplines. This programme has a diverse offering of modules. As such, it would suit students who would like the flexibility of choosing subjects according to their own professional development and academic goals.

The Wits LLM and PG Dip Coursework programmes are research intensive. As such, students participating in this programme will develop their legal research and writing skills, while gaining in-depth knowledge in a wide variety of subjects, being exposed to cutting-edge legal developments.

From the diverse portfolio of modules offered under this programme, students will be exposed to critical, analytical and comparative legal perspectives on a wide variety of topics related to commercial, private, adjectival, and public law.

Commercial and Business Law

This specialisation is ideal for attorneys, advocates, legal advisors and any other lawyer working in commerce. Students will get up-to-date knowledge of established and emerging fields of commercial practice, including cutting-edge perspectives on current and future problems in the field of commercial practice.

Corporate Law

The corporate law specialisation covers such topics as corporate sustainability, corporate regulatory compliance, legal capital regulation and corporate governance issues.

Students will develop knowledge of financial matters, particularly issues relevant to balance sheets and income statements. The course also focuses on economics relating to efficiency, value maximization, agency costs, transactional costs and externalities. The programme focuses on modern corporate legal issues such as illicit financial outflows, collective actions in corporate law, private enforcement of corporate law and class actions.

There is also a focus on the societal issues of stakeholder participation in corporate governance, business financing through capital markets and public offering of securities, and balancing sustainability and profitability.

The LLM in corporate law is of benefit to corporate commercial attorneys, commercial transactions advisors/consultants, business registration and compliance specialists, company secretaries, legal advisors, corporate commercial legal practitioners, and scholars interested in developing a specialisation in corporate law.

Environmental Law

This specialisation deals with the jurisprudence of environmental law and regulation, the role of international environment law in the development of domestic environmental law, the constitutional protection of environmental rights, media specific legislation aimed at conservation and sustainable use of renewable and non-renewable resources, the control of environmental pollution and, the implementation and enforcement of environmental law.

In addition to exploring the normative principles, the specialisation entails an analysis of the role, functions and effectiveness of global and regional environmental governance institutions. The courses within this specialisation cover a selection of specific international environmental law regimes including protection of the atmosphere, biodiversity and heritage conservation, transboundary movement of hazardous waste, trade and the environment, human rights and environmental protection, and developing country perspectives on these topics.

Human Rights Advocacy and Litigation

This specialisation introduces candidates to the theory of rights and different scholarly understandings of human rights and how they should be enforced. It probes the literature of different rights-based strategies, and the issues that inform the choice of advocacy or litigation by human rights actors. Case studies are an important component of the learning process. Attention is paid to the different legal strategies and processes that are available to human rights lawyers and advocates. Candidates will participate in clinical projects that involve placements with institutions engaged in human rights advocacy or litigation.

Human Rights and Advocacy Law engages questions of legal practice and strategy in the broad social justice sector. It considers perennial and changing questions about the role and limits of law and constitutional rights in securing social justice.

Human Rights and Advocacy Law is aimed at advocates, attorneys, academics and researchers who are interested in the relationship between law, litigation and social justice outcomes. It is beneficial both to those working within the broad social justice/human rights sector and to those working in other areas of law. Students are expected to have a basic doctrinal knowledge of human rights related law, and be prepared to learn to think ‘out of the box’ about the use of law to effect social change.

Information and Communications Law

This specialisation covers issues pertaining to access to information and privacy law; intellectual property law; media and telecommunications law; cyber law; and an advanced understanding of how administrative law underpins these subjects.

The specialisation provides candidates with an in-depth examination of the evolution of the right to privacy both at international and domestic level, and its intersection with competing rights such as the right to access to information and the rights of the media to freedom of expression.

Courses within this specialisation focus on rights within the online environment, both domestically and internationally. This includes an understanding of the principles of cyber law, the protection of intellectual property in cyberspace, possible solutions to the ever-increasing problems associated with cybercrimes, emerging issues pertaining to information security and data protection, the potential legal liability of internet service providers, and the interaction and interrelationship between the use of information technology in the workplace and the law.

The course engages the regulatory landscape relating to media law and telecommunications law, and the policies that informed such legislation.

International law

This programme focuses on issues of multilateral cooperation; international accountability; responsibility to protect and Global South approaches to international law. There is also a focus on societal issues of (in)equality; international participation of developing countries; and economic social progress.

Students will gain a critical understanding of the role and function of law in an international context, including the working of institutional mechanisms for the enforcement of international law. 

The LLM in international law gives candidates the competence to research, teach and use international law principles in adjudication, litigation and advisory roles. More importantly, students will develop their own views on the role and functioning of law in the international society.

The following LLM courses are linked to the LLM in International Law: Advanced International Law (compulsory course), International Human Rights Law, International Environmental Law, International Criminal Law and International Trade Law.

International Law and Economics

Candidates gain a critical understanding of advanced concepts and principles of International Trade law and the working of the institutional mechanisms for their enforcement. Topics of exploration include invoking security exceptions (e.g. in trade wars between China and the US), solving trade disputes, using trade mechanisms/rules for economic growth, the relationship between regional trade agreements and the WTO, and the position of developing countries in the multilateral economic system.

The programme is suitable for candidates with a legal background, working in or with interest in international trade law. These include trade lawyers, legal advisors at auditing firms dealing with trade matters, individuals within the standards industry, international relations professionals and government officials (particularly those working in the Department of Trade and Industry (the DTI) and phytosanitary measures).

Candidates will gain a critical understanding of advanced concepts and principles of international trade law and the working of the institutional mechanisms for their enforcement; analytical skills to study and provide informed approaches to resolving international trade law problems or challenges; academic and intellectual competence to research, teach and use international trade law principles in adjudication, litigation, advisory roles, and other applications; and the ability to develop their own views on the role and functioning of law in the international society.

Candidates will also gain knowledge and skills to tackle business problems such as accessing markets, granting of compulsory licences for essential medicines and establishing subsidiaries within foreign jurisdictions. Students will also develop knowledge around economic inequality; economic growth and global economic inequality.

The following courses are linked to the LLM in International Economic Law: International Business Transactions law, International Environmental Law, Cyber Law, International Law and International Law on Foreign Investment.

Labour Law

This specialisation comprises the common law contract of employment and the employment relationship, the relevant statutory frameworks, unfair dismissal and unfair labour practices, employment equity and unfair discrimination, collective labour law including collective bargaining, strikes, lockouts and protest action, dismissal of strikers, dispute resolution, and other relevant laws and principles.

The specialisation will also consider the policies that inform this area of law.

Labour Dispute Resolution Practice

The LLM in Law Dispute Resolution Practice (LDRP) aims to contribute to the transformation and capacity building in the labour dispute resolution sector. The LLM in LRDP will be of interest to labour lawyers, commissioners, labour bargaining council panellists or those wishing to enhance their industrial relations/dispute resolution skills. LDRP courses focuses on mediation, conciliation, labour arbitration and collective labour law.

Pensions Law

The LLM in Pension Law will introduce students to the nature and different species of retirement funding vehicles, the basic legal framework within which they are required to operate and the rights and responsibilities of members of retirement funds, and of their dependents. 

Students will develop knowledge of the main laws and legal principles applicable to retirement funds in South Africa and the rights and obligations of those responsible for their governance, management, regulation and supervision. A central interest of the LLM in pension law is the investment of retirement benefits within the economy. The course deal with financial vehicles that are meant to mitigate against old-age poverty.

Students will engage in research and legal writing with a view to making a contribution to the development of pension fund law in South Africa; and to advise pension funds, employers, trade unions, regulators, providers of products and services to funds and others with interests in the conduct of the business of pension funds on their rights and duties.

The LLM in pension law is primarily designed for practising legal practitioners, law teachers and recent law graduates. The degree does however cover content that can be useful to retirement fund board members, retirement fund administrators, trade union officials, fund evaluators and human resource personnel.

Tax Law

This is a broad-ranging programme focusing on transactions that have possible tax consequences. Candidates will consider whether the foundational principles of tax are adequate to solve modern-day issues such as should lobola be subject to tax, what tax consequences are triggered by cryptocurrency transactions and which country should have taxing rights when a business operates in various jurisdictions.

The LLM in tax law places emphasis on whether the tax principles, some of which were established decades ago, adequately address modern day constructions and issues, students in this course will be able to think about taxation and its impact on transactions beyond theory. Through the programme, students will enhance their critical thinking, research, communication, problem-solving, self-management and collaboration skills.

An important consideration within the LLM in tax law are legal and ethical considerations regarding taxpayers’ right to structure their affairs so that they minimise their tax exposure. Students will also consider the role that taxation plays or can play in the redistribution of wealth. Taxpayers minimising their tax liabilities versus the role taxes play in realising the socio-economic objectives of the government.

The programme is of benefit to practitioners dealing with commercial and corporate matters may be interested in the LLM in Tax Law. Lawyers working in the areas of private and public law or a lawyer advising a non-profit organisation would benefit from this course given its overall focus on tax consequences of concluding contracts and transactions.

The following LLM modules are linked to the LLM in Tax law: Domestic Tax, Foundational Principles of Tax, Taxation of Specific Entities and Transactions and International Tax Law.