Master's Programme in Comparative and International Tax Law

60 credits

Programme syllabus, JKS2N

Finalised by
The Faculty Board of Law, 12 May 2020
Registration number
JURFAK 2020/28
Responsible faculty
Faculty of Law
Responsible department
Department of Law

Decisions and guidelines

Determined on May 12, 2020, by the Board of the Faculty of Law, Uppsala University. The education plan enters into force the autumn semester 2021.

In General

The programme is 60 university points (60 ECTS credits) and is a master's programme at advanced level. It is a programme entirely held in English. The general objective is to provide a deep understanding of fundamental income tax law, of international tax and of European Union (EU) tax law. International tax law is a concept to describe international tax issues in national income tax law, in tax treaty law and in EU tax law. Participants will after concluding the programme have the knowledge and experience to work with advanced tax issues in private practice, at governments, for international organisations or in academia.

Entry requirements

Academic requirements

A Bachelor's degree, equivalent to a Swedish Kandidatexamen, from an internationally recognised university.

Either (1) with the main field of study in Law or Legal Science or (2) in Business Administration with the additional requirement of 15 credits of legal studies, or equivalent, documented knowledge.

Language requirements

Proficiency in English equivalent to the Swedish upper secondary course English 6. This requirement can be met either by achieving the required score on an internationally recognised test, or by previous upper secondary or university studies in some countries. Detailed instructions on how to provide evidence of your English proficiency are available at


International tax law and EU tax law is built on the foundations of national income tax law. Hence, the programme starts with a course in Comparative Income Taxation to enable the students to absorb the later courses in international tax law and EU tax law. Comparative income taxation covers the income tax rules for individual and companies, and deals with core income tax principles, rules for determining taxable income, and national provisions to determine the jurisdiction to tax resident and non-resident taxpayers. The subsequent courses in Tax Treaty Law and Transfer Pricing, and EU Tax Law, are built on the foundation provided by the first course.

Tax treaties are treaties of public international law concluded by states. The aim of tax treaties is to mitigate the effects of international juridical double taxation and, increasingly, to prevent tax avoidance. Most tax treaties are modelled after the OECD Model Tax Convention, and to a lesser degree, the UN Model Tax Convention. The application and interpretation of tax treaties concluded according to these models will be thoroughly dealt with in the second course. In addition, 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 countries outside the EU, third countries. The programme includes the study of the effects of the primary law of the European Union on direct taxation (mainly the fundamental freedoms and the State aid provisions), as well as the secondary law that has been agreed upon by the Member States (different directives and regulations). The programme also includes an introduction to value added taxation (VAT).

The general learning approach of the law programme at the Faculty of Law, Uppsala University, relies on problem-oriented and case-based seminars with a high degree of student activity. Students are expected to prepare the seminars in groups of three to five students, present their answers at the seminar, and discuss them with fellow students and the professor. The professor supervises the discussion, makes sure the discussion is held at an appropriate academic level and that the outcome can be considered correct. However, in the beginning of the programme (during the course Comparative Income Taxation), more guidance in regards of reading instructions and interactive lectures will be given to the students before a switch to case-based seminars are made.

The Uppsala Law Faculty has a strong section dealing with tax law, with several professors and senior lecturers as well as doctoral candidates. They will all take an active part in the master's programme.

The programme 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 programme 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 programme, students should have the ability to:

  • use a comparative approach to tax law,
  • understand the central features of a domestic income tax system,
  • understand the relationship between tax treaties, EU tax law and domestic tax law and how these impact one another,
  • understand the method for applying tax treaties,
  • 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),
  • understand the fundamentals of transfer pricing,
  • understand the method used by the CJEU to determine if a domestic tax law is in conflict with the TFEU,
  • be able to interpret and apply EU tax law (primary as well as secondary law),
  • be able to write a thesis on comparative, 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, and
  • orally present, discuss and analyse complex cross border situations from a tax law perspective.

Layout of the programme

The master's programme will contain the following courses. The first course, Comparative Income Taxation (15 ECTS credits), deals with fundamental aspects of income taxation of individuals and companies. Income taxation is studied from a comparative point of view. This means that solutions to fundamental tax issues are analyzed and discussed using the income tax law of different countries. The course comprises three essential parts. The first part of the course deals with basic income tax principles and concepts, such as tax neutrality, ability to pay principle and tax residence. The second part focuses on individual income taxation, for instance taxation of labor and capital, different approaches to taxable income (schedular, dual and global tax systems) family taxation differences between residence and source-based taxation of individuals. The third part covers fundamentals of taxation of enterprises. Basic issues on defining taxable income, e.g. what constitutes taxable revenue and deductible expenses, relationship with accounting rules and timing issues are covered. Furthermore, tax rules relevant to different forms for doing business are dealt with, with special focus on corporations and its shareholders.

The second course, Tax Treaty Law and Transfer Pricing (15 ECTS credits) covers the interpretation and application of different tax treaties and transfer pricing guidelines. A number of different tax treaties will be studied, including tax treaties with developing countries formed according to the UN Model Tax Convention and treaties based on the OECD Model Tax Convention. The "Multilateral instrument" (MLI) adds a set of treaty articles to many already existing tax treaties, and adds new interpretative issues to an already complex area. The application of tax treaties on business income, dividends, interest, royalties, and dispute resolution will, among other issues, be discussed. Different forms for elimination of double taxation will also be subject to study. The course also includes a study of transfer pricing, including an analysis of the transfer pricing methods and models, as well as the attribution of profits to permanent establishments. Alternative forms for dividing the tax base between states will also be discussed, which includes "formulary apportionment".

The third course EU Tax Law (15 ECTS credits), includes the study of the effects of the primary law of the European Union on direct taxation, as well as the secondary law that has been agreed upon by the Member States (directives and regulations). The course objective is to provide more in-depth knowledge in international tax law and EU tax law. Some of the topics previously covered on the programme will be discussed and analysed from a more comprehensive and thematic perspective, which adds complexity to the law (legal pluralism), methodology and solutions discussed. The course also covers issues of State aid, social security contributions and fundamental issues on VAT (indirect taxation).

An overall ambition with the programme is to provide a progressive learning curve for the students. This is achieved in several ways. First, within each course, the starting point will be the basic rules and principles and as the course goes on, more and more advanced issues will be studied. Second, the three courses are closely related in the sense that later courses will be founded on earlier courses, so that the students will recognise the issues from earlier courses and be able to study the issues at a more advanced level. In addition, progression is also provided in the learning outcomes (oral and written ability of the students). In relation to, for instance the oral ability of the students, feedback will be given throughout the programme to ensure the learning outcomes. In the beginning, the oral assignments may be solved together with other students (without examination, but with feedback provided), in the next step the oral presentation might be examined together with other students, and towards the end of the programme the oral presentation will be done individually (and examined). When it comes to the written assignments these will be more demanding as the programme progresses, but also here feedback is continuously given to facilitate for the students to improve themselves.

The programme concludes with a Thesis (15 ECTS credits), where the students individually write a thesis. The subject of the thesis should be decided by the student in dialogue with his or her supervisor. The professors of the programme courses will serve as supervisors. Within this course a few lectures on legal methodology, research ethics and academic writing will be given.

Exchange students or international students can, if there are particular circumstances, write a master's thesis covering 30 ECTS credits on distance. This exception only exists if it can be ensured that the student will have supervision from a professor at Uppsala University. In such case the third course of the programme, in EU law, covering 15 credits, will not be eligible.

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


In the beginning of the programme interactive lectures will be held on different topics. After a few weeks we will continue with a problem-based-learning method, which demands an active participation of the students before, during and after seminars. The teaching is mainly conducted through the seminars, prior prepared by the students individually and in working group meetings. The students are expected to take active part in the seminars. The professor at the seminars should be seen as a coach rather than a "teacher/lecturer". Seminars provide a platform to break down the learning outcomes of the courses into smaller problem based assignments.

For each course students will be assigned a working group (three-five students). It is student's responsibility to attend the working group meetings and take active part in the discussion. Before the working group meeting (which is prior to each seminar) the students are to prepare the seminar assignments individually.

Participation in all sessions during the courses are compulsory. If a student is absent from more than 3 sessions (lectures/seminars/study visits, etc.) per course complementary assignments will be assigned.

Each course (I-III) also includes study visits, e.g. to the Swedish Tax Agency, law firms and accountancy firms. A few lectures are also held on each course.

As already has been noted, the programme is built on a clear thought of progression. This means for example that the requirements and difficulties increases throughout the programme in regards of the oral and written presentations/memorandums. Furthermore, the complexity of the law studied increases as well, since different topics are discussed from different perspectives (thematically). The knowledge and capabilities of the students are gained successively and they will therefore be able to analyse complex legal cross border situations in the end of the year, from a domestic, comparative, international and EU law perspective.

The examination on each course (I-III) is based on the student's oral ability (individual presentations are required), written ability (individual written memorandums) and on a written exam. The examination of the fourth course (IV) is based on the written thesis.

The grades given for all 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 Laws (60 credits) LLM.