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Study Law at North-West University South Africa

Post-graduate Programmes

Faculty of Law, Potchefstroom Campus, North-West University, South Africa

The Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education and the University of the North West, South Africa joined forces in 2004.  The campuses of the newly amalgamated university, however, still continue with their separate pre- and post-graduate programmes.  The Potchefstroom Campus of the North-West University has a well established tradition of delivering postgraduate students of high quality.

The Faculty of Law of the Potchefstroom Campus offers five structured LLM programmes as well as a traditional research LLM.

These degrees are structured to combine practical and academic material and to deliver a well-rounded graduate.  The degrees are based on the principle of self-study.  Well-structured study guides are provided and the students have to attend two seminars per module during each semester.

Completion period:   1 year full-time; 2 years part time.

Admission criteria: LLB degree. On application another 4 year law degree may be considered as prerequisite, if the applicant can indicate that he or she has applicable practical experience or prior learning.

LLM Import and Export

In the past few years import and export have become major contributors to the South African economy. Due to the growing nature of this discipline, there is a lack of expertise in this field of law.  This LLM course addresses the law with regard to import and export. Because of its international character, it also creates the possibility for students to apply their expertise in foreign countries, especially those that have trade relations with South Africa.

This course is designed to enable the student to apply the legal principles in practice. Study guides are compiled by experts in their respective fields. Most lecturers have extensive practical experience and are members of the bar, sidebar, accounting firms and companies dealing with import and export on a daily basis. Leading academics from Europe also present lectures at seminars and assist to ensure that internationally acceptable standards are maintained.

In view of the subject matter of the course, it is also ideal for foreign students with an interest in this field of the law. This course will enhance students' potential to ensure a lucrative career in this field.

The course consists of the following modules:

LLM Import and Export

International instruments and Quarantines


International law of contract (LLMI886)

International transport law

Customs and Excise Law



Select two of the following modules  

Transborder Insolvency and Transfer of Technology (LLMI896)


International  Environmental Law (LLMO882)


International commercial arbitration (LLMI892).

International Tax Law


Private international law and aspects of Insurance Law






LLM in Estate Planning

Estate planning is very important for legal practitioners, financial advisors and life insurance agents. Estate planning is a two-staged process. The first stage entails the preparation and implementation of a plan of wealth disposition during the lifetime of the client, and the second stage the implementation of such plan after the death of the client. In order to prepare a plan of wealth disposition, an estate planner must take cognisance of tax, estate, family and property law.  Estate planners and administrators of estates need to have knowledge of these disciplines and to continually update their knowledge in this regard. 

The LLM  in Estate Planning is one of the longest running programmes of its nature in South Africa.  It has built a reputation as a degree where learners obtain the necessary knowledge and practical skills to do proper estate planning. The programme is aimed at practitioners with practical experience who intent to enhance and/or update their knowledge.

The feedback from our LLM graduates is excellent and many of our graduates have secured careers or have furthered their careers as practitioners specialising in estate planning, legal advisors at banks, insurance companies and at the Master's Offices,  Deeds Registers Offices and Magistrates' Offices.

We use practitioners and skilled personnel who have knowledge and practical experience in the different subjects to assist learners in the study of this LLM degree.


LLM in Estate Law

Tax Law (LLMB882)

Estate Planning (LLMB881)

Advanced Matrimonial Property and Succession Law (LLMB884)

Property Law and Legislation (LLMB883)

Financial Planning Law (LLMB885)

Mini-dissertation (LLMB873)

LLM in Labour Law

Businesses, government and industry experience labour problems on a daily basis.  The Labour Relations Act of 1995 created a totally new dispensation with regard to labour issues in South Africa. In fact, new principles have developed on the interpretation of the Act. These principles bring the Act to life as the different courts in the country interpret them on a daily basis. In the process of interpretation, international law plays a major role. The Constitutional Court is giving new meaning to the Act and the dynamic nature of these interpretations necessitates continual update of practitioners' knowledge.  Labour law as it is taught during the LLB programme does not provide the student with the necessary skills and knowledge to practise labour law.  The LLM is therefore an in-depth study and focuses on the Constitutional and internationally accepted methods of interpretation of labour law.

Practitioners, international labour law experts and eminent academics are involved in the teaching of the LLM-programme.

Our LLM Labour Law graduates are sought after as candidate attorneys and better compensation than their colleagues. Practitioners who completed the LLM degree use their newly acquired knowledge and skills to further their own careers.

We are currently investigating a joint LLM in Labour with RAU and the Goethe Institute in Germany.


The following modules are compulsory:

Individual Labour law (LLML811) (3 Papers)
Collective Labour Law and Dispute Resolution (LLML 812)

International and Comparative Labour law (LLML821)

Social Security and Occupational Health and Security  Law (LLML822)

Dissertation (LLML873)

The learner has to select one of the following modules:

Labour law in the Public Sector and in Local Government (LLMA877) or Occupation Safety Law (LLMA878)

LLM in Environmental Law

Why study a Masters in Environmental Law and Governance?

Prior to the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 the environment was considered to be a >white elitist concern> which did not merit comprehensive protection and enforcement in terms of the legal framework. With the inclusion of the environmental right, by virtue of section 24 in the Constitution, the situation changed dramatically. The sustainable governance of environmental matters by both the public and private sector became of the utmost importance. Moreover, the introduction of environmental management inspectors under the National Environmental Management Act 107 of 1998 made industry more aware of their responsibilities in terms of environmental legislation, and also placed an obligation on government officials and managers to rethink their duties in terms of the environment. This degree was developed to provide students the opportunity to study the complexities, as well as the integrated and cross-cutting nature of environmental law and governance.

Since 1996 parliament has promulgated an array of environmental laws, placing obligations on government, individuals and the private sector on various matters relating to the environment. The complex governance structure that developed, necessitate a new knowledge and skills within the legal and environmental management sector. The LLM/MPhil in Environmental Law and Governance was introduced to address this need.

This exciting post-graduate programme is one of the few in South Africa that comprehensively covers a broad spectrum of environmental law, governance and related modules. It is the only one that explicitly also focuses on the issue of governance in the context of environmental law.

 How will a degree in Environmental Law and Governance assist me?

The LLM degree focuses on national, international and regional environmental issues and provides students the opportunity to structure the Master's programme according to their specific needs.

All students must complete a module in South African Environmental and Planning Law and must write a dissertation on a specific topic of his or her own choice. Students in the LLM programme are free to choose three electives focusing on international and regional environmental law or students could tailor their studies to focus on South African specific issues whether from a private or public perspective.

Students in the M Phil programme must also complete a compulsory module in Environmental Management that is presented by the School of Environmental Science.

The LLM/MPhil has a practical application focus. The module South African Environmental and Planning Law is for example structured to address the life cycle of projects following a cradle to grave approach.

Why must I study this degree?

This programme is a must for those interested in the highly interesting, fast-developing, and dynamic field of environmental law. It is suited, not only for full time students, but particularly also for part time students and individuals in practice.

What makes this course further unique is that, unlike the other LLM programmes of the Faculty of Law, students without a legal background and qualification are eligible to enrol for the M. Phil, instead of the LLM.

The contents

The programme offers a wide selection of modules including two compulsory modules, namely, South African Environmental and Planning Law and, as with all other LLM programmes of the Faculty of Law, Research Methodology and a Mini-dissertation.

In addition, students are required to choose three elective modules, including, International Environmental Law; Regional Environmental Law; Administrative Law; Local Government and Environmental Law; Occupational Health and Safety Law; and from the second half of 2011, a brand new module titled, Climate Change Law and Governance which is a first in South Africa!

The presenters

The lecturers in the LLM Environmental Law and Governance are a mix of highly qualified and renowned academics and expert practitioners. Dr. Susan Bouillon lecturers the Land Use and Planning Law part of the South African Environmental Law module with Proff. Willemien du Plessis and Louis Kotz>. Dr Bouillon has a doctorate degree in Planning Law and has her own private Planning Law Consultation firm. Proff. Du Plessis and Kotze are widely-published and recognised authorities on, among other, South African environmental law and governance.

Mr Andrew Gilder and Dr. Marie Parramon from Imbewu Sustainability Specialists are responsible for the Climate Law module with Prof. An>l du Plessis. They have vast theoretical knowledge and practical experience in climate change law.

International Environmental Law is lectured by Prof. Werner Scholtz whose is a leading expert on International Environmental Law and African Regional Environmental Law

Mr Niel Lubbe lectures Regional Environmental Law with Prof Scholtz. Mr. Niel Lubbe is one of the few specialists in regional Transboundary Biodiversity Protection law in South Africa.

Administrative law is taught by Ms Rolien Roos, who has extensive practical and academic knowledge of the field of administrative law and is currently completing her doctoral studies in this field.

Local Government Environmental Law is lectured by Prof. Anel du Plessis who is now recognised as one of the leading authorities on this issue in South Africa.

Prof. Piet Myburgh lectures the Occupational Health and Safety module. He has his own private consultation firm where he specialises in Labour Law and Occupational, Health and Safety law, especially within the mining sector

Feedback from our Alumni

Most of our students either work or found work in the environmental law sector and indicate that their LLM studies assisted them tremendously in the work they are doing.

What are the admission requirements?

To gain admission to the LLM In Environmental Law and Governance, a student has to meet all the requirements set by this university or any other South African university for the LL B degree. A student in possession of another four year law degree of this or another university may apply for admission to the LL M degree.

Students who meet the requirements of a four year university degree, but do not meet the requirements of a four year law degree may apply to enrol into the M Phil Environmental Law and Governance programme.

Before such a student may do so, he or she must first be able to produce evidence that he or she successfully completed an undergraduate module in the following subjects: These modules may be completed at any university.

> Introduction to Law

> Law of Property

> Constitutional Law

> Administrative Law

> Environmental Law.

Before being allowed to register, a student may be required to provide the Director of Research with sufficient written evidence of knowledge and practical experience in the relevant field 


LLM in Comparative Child Law

The LLM in Comparative Child Law is one of a kind. Although similar qualifications are offered by other faculties nationally and internationally, this one is truly unique in the sense that it is mandatory to study for one semester each at the Potchefstroom Campus of the NWU in South Africa and at the Justus Liebig University, Giessen, Germany. Students are exposed therefore to the study of child and family law from both a South African and broad African perspective on the one hand and a German and broad European perspective on the other. In this respect it is a true international qualification and it comes as no surprise that students from all over the world enroll for the course.

Once in Giessen students enrolled at Potchefstroom receive a scholarship from the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst which is sufficient to afford accommodation and other household necessaries. Scholarships have been awarded by other German institutions on an ad hoc basis in the past.

This programme aims at equipping students with sound academic knowledge and professional skills in the field of child law. It therefore serves as an academic qualification for careers nationally and internationally in child law, family law, comparative law and international law. One module comprises an internship at an institution that focuses on the practice of child law. In this respect the field of study is aimed at bridging the gap between academia and practice.

The following modules are included in the programme. The P and G that appear in brackets refer to Potchefstroom and Giessen respectively where the respective courses are presented.
> Comparative Child Law and Family Law (P and G)
> International Family Law (P and G)
> Comparative Social Justice (P)
> International Children's Human Rights (G)
> Juvenile Criminal Justice (G)
> Internship (P or G)
> Dissertation (P or G)

In view of the high international profile of the programme the presenters are practitioners and academics who are recognized leading lights in their respective fields of specialization.

Experience shows that the foreign students from Europe, Africa and Asia become very good friends with their South African counterparts who show them around in South Africa and vice versa, German students doing the same for the Potchefstroom students when they are in Giessen. Lasting friendships have developed in the process. The programmes at both Potchefstroom and Giessen leave sufficient time for exploring the surroundings and South Africans make use of the opportunity to travel around in Germany and during holiday time also to other parts of Europe. It may be noted that both faculties are not only very serious about the academic quality of the programme, but also about the social interaction of students. In Potchefstroom excursions are therefore made to inter alia, the Vredefort Dome, a world heritage site, and the Pilanesberg Game Reserve. In Germany castles and picturesque medieval towns are visited sometimes in thick layers of snow.


Researched LLM

A learner may also obtain a LLM by writing a dissertation on a subject of his/her own choice within the framework of the research focus area of the faculty: Development in the South African Constitutional State. In this instance, a research proposal containing a problem statement must be completed after which an oral examination (of more or less an hour) on three subjects relating to the theme must be done. After successful completion of this examination the learner will be allowed to proceed with his/her dissertation. The length of the dissertation is normally more or less 120 pages.  There are several on-going projects in the Faculty in which the learner may also participate:

  Urban and rural land development

  Trade and development

  Environment, trade and development

  Poverty, social exclusion and social rights

  International children rights

  Sustainable development

  Modern day impact of religious family systems in South Africa

  Equality.

Learners who decided to follow this route, accumulated in depth knowledge in their field of expertise and now follow the careers of their choice.  Their skills in research and writing make them popular both amongst practitioners and at academic institutions.

More information

Contact  Alpha Marais (+27 18 299 1922 /

 Anita Stapelberg (+27 18 299 1952 /

Fax: +27 18 299 1955



Alpha Marais
Tel: +27 18 299 1922


Anita Stapelberg

Tel: +27 18 299 1952


Prof Francois Venter
Dean of the Law Faculty
Potchefstroom Campus
North-West University
Private Bag X6001
South Africa
http: //
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Alpha Marais
Tel: +27 18 299 1922


Anita Stapelberg

Tel: +27 18 299 1952


Prof Francois Venter
Dean of the Law Faculty
Potchefstroom Campus
North-West University
Private Bag X6001
South Africa
http: //