Syllabus for Master's Programme in International Tax Law and EU Tax Law

Magisterprogram i internationell skatterätt och EU-skatterätt

A later update of this programme syllabus has been published.

  • 60 credits
  • Programme code: JIE2N
  • Established: 2012-09-03
  • Established by: The Faculty Board of Law
  • Reg. no: JURFAK 2012/48
  • Syllabus applies from: Autumn 2013
  • Responsible faculty: Faculty of Law
  • Responsible department: Department of Law

Entry Requirements

Students must have an undergraduate degree in law corresponding to three years full-time studies or 180 credits. 15 credits in tax law, or equivalent knowledge, is also required. Proof of skills in English to a level corresponding to English B in the Swedish secondary school. This is normally attested by means of an internationally recognised test with the following minimum scores:

  • IELTS: an overall mark of 6.5 and no section below 5.5

  • TOEFL: Paper-based: Score of 4.5 (scale 1-6) in written test and a total score of 575. Internet-based: Score of 20 (scale 0-30) in written test and a total score of 90

  • Cambridge: CAE, CPE

Decisions and Guidelines

Determined on September 3, 2012, by the Board of the Faculty of Law, Uppsala University. The course plan enters into force the autumn semester 2013.

In General
The program is 60 university points (60 ECTS credits) and is a Master programme at advanced level. The teaching is held in English.


The general objective is to provide a deep understanding of major issues of international and EU tax law. International tax law refers to both domestic law that has international aspects and tax treaty law. Domestic tax law that is of interest concerns for example how to determine unlimited and limited tax liability, withholding taxes on cross-border income, and national law on the avoidance of double taxation. These types of legislation will be discussed from a comparative perspective including special consideration of the legislation of the United States. Tax treaties are treaties of public international law concluded by states. The aim of the treaties is to mitigate the effects of international. Mostly the treaties are modelled according to the OECD Model Tax Convention and the United Nations Model Tax Convention. The application and interpretation of tax treaties concluded according to these models will be thoroughly dealt with. European law has an increasing impact on the tax legislation of the Member states and it affects both investors within in the EU and investors from other states. The fundamental freedoms of the EU, for example the freedom to provide goods and services, the freedom of establishment and the free movement of capital, in relation to direct taxation will be discussed. The EU has also decided several directives concerning taxation, and they will also be subject to study, for example the merger directive, the parent-subsidiary directive, the interest-royalties directive, the savings directive and the directive on the exchange of information.

The issue of cross-border reorganisations will be dealt with in a separate course, as well as value added taxation (VAT). The European system of VAT has lately been introduced, with certain variations, in a number of other countries as general sales tax (GST). GST has been advanced as a possible way of increasing tax revenue in developing countries, which will be discussed.

The general learning approach of the law program at the Faculty of Law, Uppsala University, is based on a problem and case oriented seminars with a high degree of student activity. Students are expected to prepare the seminars in groups of three to five students and present their answers at the seminar and discuss them with fellow students and the teacher. The teacher guarantees that the discussion holds the appropriate level and that the outcome can be considered as right.

The Uppsala Law Faculty has a strong section dealing with tax law, with two professors and several senior lecturers and doctoral candidates. In varying degrees they will all take an active part in the Master programme.

The program also has an academic board consisting of academics, practitioners and judges from several countries. The objective of the board is to provide input to the program in the form of ideas, knowledge and expertise from different fields of the legal profession and from other countries. Members of the board will also participate as guest lecturers.

Learning Outcomes

After having completed the course, students should have the ability:
to understand the relationship between tax treaties, EU law and strictly national law,
to understand the method for applying tax treaties,
to be able to interpret tax treaties by applying different sources of law stemming from both national law and international law (in particular the OECD MTC),
to understand the principles of US international tax law,
to use a comparative approach to law and discuss central features of a national tax system,
to be able to write a thesis on international or EU tax law fulfilling requirements on objectivity, structure, analytical reasoning, independence and successfully defend the conclusions as well as opposing on another thesis.

Layout of the Programme

The Master programme will contain the following courses. The first course will be an introduction to fundamentals of international taxation (7.5 ECTS credits). It will include principles for international taxation, the problem of international double taxation and mechanisms for mitigating such double taxation. Fundamental principles of EU law and the reasoning of the European Court of Justice will also be covered. The first course will begin with a general introduction to the Uppsala model of seminar-based learning and critical legal methods. The objective is to provide a common approach to learning for the coming courses.

The second course deals with tax treaty law (7.5 ECTS credits or 15 ECTS credits). The students will learn how to apply and interpret tax treaties based on the OECD and UN Model Tax Conventions. The application of articles concerning business income, dividends, interest and royalties will, for example be discussed. Different forms for elimination of double taxation will also be subject to study. A number of different tax treaties will be studied, including tax treaties with developing countries formed according to the UN Model Tax Convention.

The third course covers legislation on value added taxation (VAT) which in a European context is governed by a directive as interpreted by the European Court of Justice (7.5 ECTS credits). Legislation on general sales tax (GST) will also be covered.

Transfer pricing and cross-border corporate reorganisations will also be covered in the fourth course (7.5 ECTS credits or 15 ECTS credits). It will deal with the effects of for example cross-border mergers, demergers and the exchange of shares. The EU Merger directive will be discussed. Aspects on accounting and taxation will also be covered.

A standing feature will be teaching by a guest professor from the United States and will provide an introduction to US international taxation. There are several reasons for this. The US economy is important from a global perspective and international commerce may include taxation in the United States. In addition, the scholarly debate in the United States is developed concerning issues on taxation and has in the past served as a bench-mark for legislation in several other countries. Primarily, the US aspects will be covered within the scope of the courses on tax treaty law and transfer pricing and corporate reorganisations.

The program ends with a course where the students individually write a thesis (15 or 30 ECTS credits). The subject of the thesis should be decided by the students in dialogue with his or her supervisor. The teachers of the program courses will also serve as supervisors.

To the extent possible the students will be able to have a voluntary two-week internship with a law firm, accountancy firm, court or with the Swedish Tax Agency during the period of writing the final thesis of the program. The students will get an insight into the practical everyday life of working with tax law issues and they may also get practical input on their thesis.

Several study visits to law firms, accountancy firms, courts and the Swedish Tax Agency will also take place.


The teaching is focused on seminars where students discuss cases previously prepared in smaller groups of three to five students. There are also lectures and visits to the Swedish Tax Agency, law firms and accountancy firms.

The grades given for the courses are Fail (U), and the passing grades Pass (B), Pass with credit (Ba) and Pass with distinction (AB).


The programme leads to a Master of Legal Science (60 credits).