Master of Transnational Law

Program Description

The Master of Transnational Law is a masters’ programme that aims at having students rethink law in a non-statist context and achieve a deeper understanding of the legal dimensions of the globalization phenomenon.

For the past two hundred years, legal thinking has been built on the association between law and State. Students who attend law schools are still commonly educated within a statist framework, and accordingly devote nearly all of their intellectual energy to the study of the law of a particular jurisdiction, determined by the physical location of the academic institution that hosts them. Even a discipline as cosmopolitan (and as alien to most undergraduate curricula) as that of comparative law is based on the deep-seated assumption that the unit of analysis is the national legal order and that legal comparison consists in identifying the similarities and differences in the structure, content and administration of the law of national systems. 

The Master of Transnational Law is based on the belief that there is much more to the law than what can be assimilated within the premises of national jurisdictions. In many areas, if not all, law is becoming profoundly transnational.

Four main forces conspire to bring about this increasing de-nationalization of law:

(1) Globalization

The dramatic reduction in transportation and communication costs in the past three to four decades has increased the cross-border flows of goods, services, capital, people and information technology to unprecedented levels. Much of modern commercial and financial life has become transnational and this has a profound transnationalization effect on the applicable law. Contemporary phenomena such as mass migration, international terrorism, environmental harm and the digital sphere are other products of the ongoing process of legal globalization. 

(2) Harmonization

With globalization the subjects of legal regulation become de-territorialized, often rendering national law impotent and obsolete. If not already superseded by transnational minimum standards, statist legal systems have been converging, either through treaties and legal transplants or through the more subtle influences of judicial cross-fertilization and the reception of soft law generated by transnational bodies. 

(3) Integration

While State law is increasingly permeated by extraneous influences, governments may sponsor further legal convergence through political integration. Supranational entities such as the European Union generate thousands of legal norms that apply across national jurisdictions. Within such entities, the State loses the monopoly of norm-creation addressed to its citizens, to the point that it might be appropriate to say that domestic law is but one system in a legal multiverse. 

(4) Common Core

The forces of immanent law formation through fundamental and general principles, customary practices and enhanced party autonomy are key in some fields of law, namely commercial and financial law. In spite of its statist bias, modern legal thought in Europe always retained some of the tradition of the jus commune, within which the law was conceived, taught and applied as locally variable but grounded in a common body of texts, principles and doctrines. For many hundreds of years, students from all over Europe would enroll in universities to learn a common law based on common sources written in a common language. While this changed over the 19th century, the contemporary study of global law signals a return to the foundations of law in all of Western culture. 

The Master of Transnational Law does not aim to provide tools for the practice of a particular legal profession. On the contrary, its purpose is to contribute to develop a cosmopolitan and modern legal culture and overcoming the inadequacies of the statist profile of traditional legal education in a globalized environment. At the same time, the programme provides students with new methods of legal analysis, research, decision-making, and communication in line with the best international academic practices.

By pursuing this masters programme, students will be encouraged to reflect on the challenges of an increasingly internationalized legal world and progress to further specialized or doctoral studies, in Portugal or abroad. 

Duration and ECTS

The Master of Transnational Law is based on the existing LL.M. programmes, requiring a minimum of ECTS in courses included in their curricula.

The first year of the programme is devoted to coursework comprising 60 ECTS. Students may choose from a large number of optional courses on offer, giving them freedom in designing their curriculum. In order to be eligible for the Master of Transnational Law, students must complete a total of at least 60 ECTS from courses and seminars offered in the LEGC, IBL and LDE programmes, including at least 30 ECTS from the MTL curriculum and the Legal Research seminar.

The second phase of the programme consists in drafting a supervised dissertation (30 ECTS), which will span one additional semester.


General Contacts

Católica Global School of Law


Phone: (+351) 214 269 860