The program aims to train excellent international tax lawyers – on an academic level – who are recognized as such by future employers. Ambitious post-initial students are brought together from all over the world, with different professional backgrounds, to study international tax law on a high level with a renowned international faculty.
The knowledge which students will have acquired will be taken back to their respective working environments, which will foster the just application of international tax law rules, principles and policies throughout the world. Our alumni are good international tax lawyers with a bond between themselves which will last a lifetime.
The program offers an intensive and diverse curriculum through which students learn how to learn, how to process lengthy and difficult legal texts efficiently, how to present before a group, how to solve case studies, how to make a convincing argument, how to write and conduct research, how to reflect on the law and its underlying principles and policies, and how to negotiate tax treaties.
The quality of this master’s programme has been positively assessed by the Accreditation Organisation of The Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO). This means that upon successful completion of the programme students receive a legally accredited Master’s degree in International Tax Law and the title Master of Laws (LLM).
The approach that is taken to teaching this programme is to deal with the “big picture” of international tax law and to study the technicalities in the context of the broad policy issues. Major themes of the programme include:
Most students start this programme having completed a first law degree that taught them the principles, concepts and difficulties of a single legal system. Their study of tax law is generally based on the concepts and principles of their home country and the international element confined to the cross-border issues encountered by that country. The UvA/IBFD programme builds on this basis and deepen the understanding of the students through a comparative element and an international element.
Through classroom discussions and presentations the students learn to form and defend their own opinion on both the current international tax order and proposals and possibilities for change. Advance preparation is generally required for the classroom sessions and the small class size allows lively classroom debate.
The programme lasts one academic year and requires a full-time commitment from the students. The first term of each year’s programme starts in the last week of August with classes starting in the first week of September. The study activities end in July.
The study points are divided as follows:
Foundation of International Tax Law (6 ECTS)
Tax Treaties I (6 ECTS)
Tax Treaties II (6 ECTS)
Transfer Pricing (6 ECTS)
Tax Treaty Negotiation (6 ECTS)
EU Tax law (6 ECTS)
VAT/GST (3 ECTS)
Choose two from (3 ECTS each):
• Transfer pricing Advanced
• Transparency, information and collection of taxes
• EU Tax Law Advanced
• VAT (/GST) Advanced
Moot Court (3 ECTS)
LLM Thesis (12 ECTS)
The programme includes components that allow the students to delve into selected issues in depth and, at the same time, develop their professional skills, such as:
• A moot court in which students present both written and oral pleadings;
• A mock tax treaty negotiation, carried out in small teams over a period of several months under the guidance of a mentor with negotiating experience.
Students are regularly required to make class presentations and to join in with classroom debate. Feedback is given, both on content and presentation style, by the lecturers and fellow students.
Writing skills are particularly important and most of the course components conclude with a written exam requiring a number of short essays. Students are also required to write a final paper, giving them the opportunity to define and focus on their own research question. Throughout the programme we pay attention to the structure of their written work as well as its content.
The following table gives an overview of the most important skills training elements in the programme.
The overview may be subject to change.
Tax treaty negotiation
Analyse issues to be considered, formulate policy objectives, evaluate possible treaty articles in the light of policy objectives
Moot court – written pleadings
Analyse case and assigned standpoint, select materials, evaluate information found, structure arguments to support assigned standpoint
Define research question, define scope of thesis, select materials, evaluate information found, structure results, develop original thought on basis of the research findings
LLM theses that achieve an excellent standard will be promoted for publication by the programme faculty. In many cases they will be selected for publication by IBFD in one of its periodicals, but if the topic of the thesis is not suitable for publication by IBFD the faculty members will assist the student in seeking publication elsewhere.
Graduating students who have written their LLM thesis on a topic relevant to the annual graduation day seminar may be invited to participate in the seminar as a panellist if their thesis achieves a standard that is high enough. In this case, the LLM thesis will be published by IBFD as one of the seminar papers.
The following table gives an overview of the assessments that contribute to the final grade. Each course grade is weighted in the final overall grade according to the study load of the course. Note that the final thesis has a study load of 12 ECTS.
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