Studying Law in English in The Netherlands

1. Will my law degree from a Dutch university be recognised in the UK?

If you study law in the European Union then your degree will be recognised. BUT, if you study law abroad it is unlikely that you will study English law. If you wish to practise law in the UK you will probably need to do a conversion course on your return.

Increasingly, however, law graduates with knowledge and experience of International and European law are highly sought after.

2. Why study law in the Netherlands?

The Dutch legal system is one of the best performing and most democratic in the world according to the Rule of Law Index, a global comparison of 97 national legal systems (published October 2012). In this index, developed by non-profit organization The World Justice Project (WJP), the Netherlands scored an extra high index on the functioning of the civil law and the transparency of the government. On both aspects, the Netherlands finished second within the 97 legal systems examined.

The Hague is called the legal capital of the World and is home to many international courts: including the International Court of Justice; the Permanent Court of Arbitration; the Yugoslavia War Crimes Tribunal; the Special Tribunal for Lebanon; the European judicial and police organizations Eurojust and Europol; the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW); and the International Criminal Court. The Dutch security policy is based primarily on membership in NATO, which the Netherlands joined as a charter member in 1949.

The Netherlands is one of the founding members of the European Union and has a long educational tradition in this field of Law.

Dutch foreign policy is geared to promoting a wide variety of goals: the rule of law, human rights, and democracy. Priority is given to enhancing European integration, ensuring European security and stability (mainly through the mechanism of NATO and by emphasizing the important role the United States plays in the security of Europe), and participating in conflict management and peacekeeping missions.

3. Undergraduate opportunities to study law in the Netherlands

There are four undergraduate options for studying law in English in the Netherlands at the University of Groningen,  The Hague University of Applied Sciences, Maastricht University and Tilburg University. Entry requirements are relatively low in comparison with British law schools. However, this is likely to change in the next few years as competition for places increases.

1. University of Groningen

LLB International and European Law at University of Groningen is a 3-year bachelor programme focusing on the fields of international politics, law and justice. All basic law areas including private law, constitutional law and criminal law, are covered. In addition, European Union Law and Public International Law are studied in depth within the context of the basic law fields.

What's unique?

Groningen's LLB programme is unique within Europe. It also holds a compulsory semester of law courses abroad in year 3.

First year students are offered workshops 'Starting your Academic Career'. This workshop offers a mentor-system in which a small group of 1st year students are supervised weekly by a senior student and this enables you to start up your studies within a supportive environment. 

And it's worth adding ...

The University of Groningen has a strong international profile with a classification in the top 100 of the Shanghai ARWU, the Times Higher Education (THE) and the QS World University ranking lists, the most influential ranking lists in the academic world.

After graduating ...

Groningen graduates go on to work for international organisations such as the European Union and the United Nations drafting international laws and regulations, or working as legal or policy advisers.

After further postgraduate study Groningen graduates are qualified to work in diplomacy, as civil servants for national ministries, the EU, the UN or other international organizations, in non-governmental organizations (e.g. Amnesty International or Greenpeace), in the international commercial sector (e.g. Unilever or Shell), or in academic teaching and research.

2. The Hague University of Applied Sciences

The Hague University of Applied Sciences also offer a 4-year International and European Law degree. The programme covers key aspects of International Law, European law, and national law in comparative perspective. More generally, it also looks at the wider principles and skills you need for a legal career - like listening, writing and presenting. 

What's unique?

You couldn't ask for a more inspiring setting to study in. The Hague is an International City of Peace and Justice, home of the International Criminal Court, War Crimes Tribunal, Europol, Permanent Court of Arbitration and The Hague Conference on Private International Law. This means there are great opportunities for work placements or traineeships.

Students and staff within the law faculty represent over 30 different nationalities. This means you'll work in multicultural teams, learn to embrace various ways of thinking and develop your cultural awareness.

After graduating ...

Hague graduates are well prepared for a wide variety of international careers in international, multinational or governmental organisations, firms or NGOs. With its strong focus on legal training in an international environment, the programme will boost your ability to analyse legal problems from an international perspective and help you embrace new ways of critical thinking.

Hear from current Hague Law students on the Law Faculty's introductory video. 

3. Tilburg University

The Bachelor of Global Law at Tilburg University offers a unique learning experience. This challenging programme is taught by leading researchers, at one of the largest research faculties for law in the Netherlands.

A limited amount of students are admitted each year and this makes for an ambitious and energetic class environment. The programme has a strong interdisciplinary component, which means it allows students to integrate knowledge from different fields (like economy and sociology) and see the bigger picture. Law is studied from a transnational perspective, allowing you to oversee legal issues in a way that is not limited by one single legal system.

What's unique?

Global Law provides a new point of view when it comes to law: it puts "global" before "local". Global Law goes beyond the limits of one jurisdictional system and allows you to integrate knowledge from different research fields when you tackle an assignment. These skills are essential when you work in an organisation where legal cases can involve a range of different jurisdictions, perspectives and solutions.

After graduating ...

Graduates from the program can apply directly for functions in international organisations, in the public sector or in academia. 

4. Postgraduate opportunities to study law in the Netherlands

Below are a selection of postgraduate law opportunities in the Netherlands. You will find more on our Masters Course Search database.

The LLM programme in European Law at the Radboud University is primarily designed for students who wish to develop their understanding and knowledge of European Union law with the intent of pursuing a legal career with a strong international dimension. This Master's offers you a thorough education in European law, including competition law, immigration law, external relations law, judicial protection, human rights law and public international law.

With international and European law exerting an increasing influence on the contents of national legal systems, expertise in this area is becoming sought-after by both private and public organizations. Tilburg University’s LLM in International and European Public Law (IEPL) deals with the interplay between national, international and European Union law - focusing on the manifold ways in which the laws emanating from international organizations are influencing the legal developments within national states.

As a student of the LLM in Public International Law at the University of Groningen you enjoy great freedom to design your own programme. You can choose from a wide range of optional courses in International Law, such as Economic Law, Peace and Security, Environmental Law and Humanitarian Law. Moreover, there are 35 courses in other areas of law from which you can choose, including Comparative Law and Sociology of Law.

VU University of Amsterdam’s one-year Master's programme in Law and Politics of International Security aims at transferring to students the knowledge, skills and insight necessary to operate as a professional or academic researcher in the area of international peace of security. Issues of international peace and security are becoming increasingly important in legal, political and administrative practice. The concept of ‘international security’ is no longer confined to traditional issues of war and peace, but now also covers topics such as terrorism, criminal law, the protection of human rights and ‘human security’.

The MSc in Victimology and Criminal Justice at Tilburg University is the only Master's programme in Europe and one of a handful of programmes worldwide, focusing on victimology. Victimology can be considered the younger sister of criminology. Its object of study is the position of victims in society. Drawing upon the insights offered by law, psychology, criminology and other social sciences, victimologists look at the consequences of becoming a victim of crime, accidents or disasters with the ultimate aim of setting people on the path to recovery and restoration.

Why do witnesses of a crime remember the colour of the perpetrator's coat differently? How can countries work together to fight crimes? In this degree you will learn all about these sorts of issues.

Crime is of all times and all places. But the nature of crime changes over time. More options are available to people as technology evolves and travelling the world becomes easier. Countries need to work together to fight transnational crime. This can lead to a clash of different legal regimes.

This LLM programme in Global Criminal Law at the University of Groningen will provide you with some insight into these and many other issues.

Tilburg University’s LLM in Law and Technology offers students the chance to develop cutting-edge and interdisciplinary expertise within the burgeoning field of technology regulation. Strongly multidisciplinary and incorporating both European and international law, the masters in Law and Technology offers you the chance to develop both multidisciplinary knowledge and an area of specialised expertise within the field of Law and Technology - giving you more options to pursue the career of your choice.

The LLM in Commerical Law - specialisation in Commercial and Company Law at the Erasmus University Rotterdam provides you with a unique combination of specialist courses in the field of company and commercial law, the impact of EU legislation and general courses in European Private Law and comparative private law.

The LLM programme in Commercial Law - specialisation Maritime and Transport Law, also at Erasmus University Rotterdam,  gives you a unique opportunity to obtain the legal know-how, the skills and practical experience needed for a career in maritime and transport law.

5. Does it make sense to study law abroad?

If you are interested in: 

  • law with a local or national focus it may not make sense to study abroad. If you study law abroad it is unlikely that you will study English law. If you wish to practise law in the UK you will probably need to do a conversion course on your return. If you are interested in studying English law abroad, this currently is not possible.
  • commercial law you would be well advised to consider international experience as an integral part of your education. Understanding more than one legal system will stand you in good stead as you will be competing in an international job market when you graduate whether you like it or not.
  • international criminal law or human rights law, for example, then you are well advised to go abroad to study. These branches of the law are international by their very nature and most of the institutions and organisations operating in these spheres are located outside this country.
  • studying law but do not intend to work as lawyer then an understanding of comparative law will be very useful if you intend to work for a multinational organisation.

6. What else should I bear in mind?

For the reasons mentioned above, British universities have started to offer a number of law degrees that incorporate international experience. These might be viable alternatives to taking your full degree abroad.

Some thoughts from law students at Dutch universities

Caitlin Bones

Jade Knight

Similar courses

About Study In Holland is an information service designed to assist British and Irish students in pursuing their university education in the Netherlands.

We have extensive knowledge of English-taught degrees in Holland and we also work with careers advisory services. is owned by A Star Future Ltd and is not affiliated with the Dutch government.