Master in International Business Law: Climate Change and Sustainability


Program Description

Targeting the Most Complex Legal Challenge of Our Time

What are legal venues to fight climate change? What rights and responsibilities do businesses and governments have in terms of sustainability? Can states be forced to bring their policies in line with the Paris 2015 Agreement? How can corporate law facilitate green startups?

VU Amsterdam is the first university in Europe to offer a specific International Business Law degree that combines an outstanding, all-round Master’s in Business Law with a specific focus on one of the most complex legal challenges of our day: climate change. It took some time for the corporate world to acknowledge the existential threat to mankind that climate change poses. But now, sustainability goes hand-in-hand with business success – and business survival. VU Amsterdam will help you become a lawyer in high demand, in both the public and private sector.

Study Programme

In sustainability issues, the role of the law is complex. There are multiple jurisdictions, numerous areas of law and multiple actors. Scientific, economic, political, social and ethical questions feed into legal processes. We will ensure you’re ready to address those questions.

However, you must first be trained as an all-round attorney. High-level thinking about climate change and sustainability is only possible with a thorough understanding of classical fields of law, such as Corporate, Contract, Tort and Public International Law. This Master’s thus begins with a core curriculum that will make you a great lawyer. We then explore the sustainability question in depth, from a variety of disciplines.

We will delve into doctrinal issues, legislation and case law. You will visit law firms, welcome guest speakers and work on real-life cases. The combination of law in the books and law in action has proven to be highly successful – and the most fun.

To break it down:

You’ll take four courses, to prepare you for any career in law:

  • Contract Law and Psychology of Negotiations
  • Anatomy of Corporate Law
  • Problems of Market Regulation
  • Corporate Social Responsibility

The rest of the curriculum focuses on sustainability and the law:

  • International Law on Climate Change and Sustainability
  • Energy and Climate Governance
  • Climate Change Litigation
  • The Circular Economy LAB
  • You'll write a Master’s Thesis on the topic of your choice, in consultation with your advisor.
  • You’ll work with experts in Psychology, Economics and Physics, and hear from thought-leaders to help you gain a well-rounded view of this highly complex field of law.

Career prospects

How employable will you be after completing the programme?
There isn’t a single company – large or small – that isn’t affected by the increasing attention and legislation with regard to climate change and sustainability. It’s not a question of whether companies will want you, but which company is the right fit for you.

What will your role be in future jobs?
Depending upon how – and in what country – you choose to use your Master’s in International Business Law, your role will be to guide corporate decision-making, business strategy and innovation, based on your knowledge of climate change legislation. You will be an invaluable asset to any company or organisation for whom you work.

Why will you be in such high demand with employers?
You will not only be a highly qualified and trained all-round jurist, but you will also have the latest and most influential information about sustainability. You will be trained by the leading minds in the field, and will have access to state-of-the-art tools and information that will make you a specialist in your field.

Why VU Amsterdam?

  • VU Amsterdam is the only university in Europe that offers a specific Law Master’s track that combines business law with climate change and sustainability.
  • Our close connections with local firms, businesses and governmental agencies gives us first-hand knowledge of the most pressing legal issues, and what is being done to address them.
  • With only around 25 students admitted into the programme, you will get the individual attention you need, and will be one of only a select few lawyers with this type of specialised and in-demand expertise.
  • The International Business Law programme at VU Amsterdam is already highly regarded by employers around the world. The addition of this particular study track only increases the value of your degree.
  • Professors and guest speakers in the programme are law practitioners, physicists, judges, psychologists, economists and academics. Their multi-disciplinary approach will ensure you the most well rounded view of the legal aspects of this topic.

Admission requirements

This Master is selective and open to a limited number of students only. The Admission Board selects on merit.

Factors which will be taken into account are:

  • GPA at least 3.25 or an overall grade point average at least B+ or 7.2
  • talent and motivation
  • proficiency in research methods and techniques
  • relevant extra-curricular academic and/or work experience
  • sufficiently proficient in the English language (see language requirements for details)

The main focus for selection is on GPA and proficiency in research methods and techniques, the other criteria are of equal importance.

Applicants with a Bachelor's or equivalent degree in Law (LLB) can apply.

Applicants who do not have such a degree, but who have considerable experience in the field of law, are also encouraged to apply, provided that they have a sound academic background.

Your bachelor education is compared to and valued through the UK Naric comparison system and, if necessary, through the Nuffic comparison and validation programmes. Especially students from non-EU countries should factor in the possibility that a relevant Bachelor’s degree could not be sufficient to enter into this Master in Law programme and their application could result in a rejection.

Admission on the basis of a law degree from an international University of Applied Sciences in not possible. The faculty does not offer a premaster for the IBL Master.

You can apply with an academic Bachelor's degree other than Law, only if you have considerable experience in the field of law and can demonstrate this with documentary evidence.

Your previous education is compared to and valued through the UK Naric comparison system and, if necessary, through the Nuffic comparison and validation programmes.

Admission on the basis of a degree from an international University of Applied Sciences in not possible. The faculty does not offer a premaster for the IBL Master.

For the master International Business Law a minimum C1 proficiency in English is required. This requirement is met if no longer than two years before the start of the programme, the applicant has successfully completed one of the following examinations with at least the scores indicated:

  • IELTS: minimum total score ≥ 7.0, minimum score per test section: 6.5
  • TOEFL paper based test: 600
  • TOEFL PBT: minimum total score 68, minimum score per test section: 22
  • TOEFL iBT (internet based test): minimum total score ≥ 100, minimum score per test section: 22
  • C1 Advanced (formerly Cambridge Advanced English): minimum score B
  • C2 Proficiency (formerly Cambridge English: Proficiency): minimum score C

Exemption is granted to students who:

  • have completed their secondary education or an academic degree in the Netherlands, UK, Ireland, Canada, USA, New Zealand or Australia; or
  • have an English-language ‘international baccalaureate’ diploma; or
  • have earned a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in an accredited English-taught programme in the EU.

The proof of English proficiency can be submitted after the application deadline, but must have been received by the faculty before the start of the programme. Without an English proficiency test score which meets the specifications mentioned above or a waiver, you cannot start the programme.


Application with an international diploma is possible from 1 October. The application deadline is:

1 February for international students applying for one of the VU scholarships
1 April for international degree holders from non-EU/EEA countries
1 July
for degree holders from EU/EAA countries

International students applying for university accommodation are strongly advised to apply before 1 April.

Application steps

  1. Register via Studielink.
  2. After registering you will receive log-in details for VUnet.
  3. Upload the following application documents via VUnet (preferably PDF format):
    1. certified copy of academic degree or if not yet graduated: declaration from your home university with an expected graduation date;
    2. certified transcript in English of grades obtained so far;
    3. curriculum vitae;
    4. letter of motivation, explaining your reasons for wishing to participate in the programme;
    5. proof of academic writing in English:
      • final paper or thesis for your academic degree (excerpt, maximum 3 pages);
      • if no thesis in English available: any other 3-5 page piece of academic writing as an alternative;
      • if no academic writing in English available: write 3-5 pages abstract of an academic paper, including bibliography, in English.
        Please note we check application documents for plagiarism.
    6. 2 letters of recommendationfrom academic referees (if possible including the ranking position of the applicant); we prefer digital copies uploaded in VUnet, but referees may also mail their references directly to;
    7. copy of passport and copy of residence permit (if applicable);
    8. optional: course descriptions of relevant courses completed;
    9. optional: literature list or bibliography of relevant books and articles used during your studies).

      The admission board may ask for additional documentation at a later stage if this is deemed necessary for reviewing your application.
  4. If applicable to you: send English language test score to This may be sent at a later stage (see Language requirements for details).
  5. As soon as all required application documents have been received, your dossier is submitted to the Admissions board. Please note that your dossier must be complete on the application deadline! Incomplete dossiers cannot be taken into consideration.
  6. The Admissions Board decides monthly on applications.
  7. If you have been admitted: finalize your application.

You will receive practical information regarding the start of the programme during the summer.

Overview International Business Law: Climate Change and Sustainability

  • Language of instruction: English
  • Duration: 1 year
  • Application deadline: 1 June for Dutch and EU-students. 1 April for non-EU-students.
  • Start date: 1 September
  • Study type: Full-time
  • Field of interest: Economics, Business and Law
Last updated Oct 2020

About the School

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is an internationally renowned research university founded in 1880. The university offers over 150 English taught programmes at Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD level to over ... Read More

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is an internationally renowned research university founded in 1880. The university offers over 150 English taught programmes at Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD level to over 26,000 students from all over the world. Students and staff of 122 nationalities create a dynamic international academic community. The University distinguishes itself in research and education through four interdisciplinary themes: Human Health and Life Sciences, Science for Sustainability, Connected World and Governance for Society. Curious about student life at VU Amsterdam? Click here to ask our International Student Ambassadors. Read less