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Dr Celine Tan Celebrates 20 years as a Warwick Alumna

This academic year, Dr Celine Tan celebrates 20 years since she enrolled on our LLM programme at Warwick Law School. Dr Tan graduated with an LLM in Law in Development (the predecessor to our LLM in International Development Law and Human Rights programme). She is now Director of Postgraduate Studies overseeing the LLM she remembers so fondly and working alongside her previous lecturers and professional services staff.

She told us, “It is an honour and privilege to serve as Director of Postgraduate Studies. This year has been a really challenging one for everyone at Warwick Law School and the University of Warwick but what has impressed me the most has been the resilience of our students and staff and the generosity and support that the WLS community has shown each other. Despite all the uncertainty and disruptions, we have graduated one cohort of students (2019 – 20), inducted a new cohort (2020 – 21) and are now looking forward to welcoming another cohort (2021 – 22). The pace of a one-year Masters degree is very hectic and there are always things to do to keep me on my toes but my satisfaction comes from being able to support students to meet their potential and see them develop academically, personally and professionally. I won’t pretend however that this year has not been a baptism of fire!”

After graduating from her LLM, Celine worked for a couple of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) on development-related work. “This is where I started putting my theoretical knowledge about law and development into practice and where I developed hands-on experience and knowledge in advocacy, campaigning and policy research in development finance and international economic law.”

This led to an interest in pursuing a PhD which she returned to do here at Warwick Law School. Her doctoral research focused on the intersections between development finance, international law and global governance and has since been published as a monograph Governance through Development: Poverty Reduction Strategies, International Law and the Disciplining of Third World States.

After completing her PhD, Celine joined Birmingham Law School in 2008 as a lecturer in law but thankfully chose to return to Warwick Law School as a faculty member in September 2011.

“My teaching and research since I joined Warwick has been on international economic law and development with a focus on sovereign debt and international public finance. I teach international economic law at undergraduate and postgraduate level and I have developed a module on the law and policy of international public finance at LLM level. I also supervise PhD students and teach research and writing skills at postgraduate level.”

Celine is a big proponent of diversifying and pluralising the discipline of international economic law and, together with colleagues at Warwick and elsewhere, started The IEL Collective which provides a space for critical reflection on the discipline of international economic law and enabling greater diversity and representation of voices, perspectives and methodologies in the study, teaching and practice of international economic law. She has also continued to feed into policy debates of contemporary concern.

“I have continued to work with NGOs, international organisations and other policy actors on areas within my research expertise. Recently, together with other colleagues from The IEL Collective’s Law and Finance Working Group and with support from development NGOs and legal practitioners, we developed proposals for a moratoria on sovereign debt claims in English law, to support global efforts at dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on sovereign indebtedness. I am also a current fellow of the Warwick’s International Institute for Global Sustainable Development (IGSD) and working on a project on New Frontiers in International Development Finance (NeF DeF) and am part of a wider consortium of institutions exploring the impact of the pandemic on informal workers in Colombia.”


Looking back on her days as a Masters student Celine commented, “The LLM programme at Warwick, both then and now, is a unique postgraduate programme. It doesn’t just aim to provide a platform for disseminating knowledge or developing academic skills but aims to build a community. What I really enjoyed about the LLM is that idea of a shared identity and collective spirit of learning and academic and personal development. We are a very diverse cohort of students and staff, drawing people from different educational backgrounds, geographical locations, and social and cultural identities. This diversity is our strength and students (and staff) come away from the programmes having learnt much more than what is on the reading lists and module syllabi. I enjoy learning from my students as much as I enjoy teaching them what I know. I am pleased that we have managed to maintain this spirit of cohesion and community even under remote learning circumstances this year and I am proud of our students for supporting us in this.”

We asked Celine if she has any advice for those thinking of studying an LLM. She said, “I would strongly recommend that you take some time to consider which programme is suited to your interests and ambitions by looking through the module offerings and the structure of the programmes. We run Open Days as well so do take advantage of them. This year, they are running virtually so you can attend them from anywhere in the world! As always, I would also recommend that you do some research and compare us with other institutions as well so that when you do finally choose us, you know you have made an informed choice.”

Dr Celine Tan’s Bio: 

Were you part of Celine’s class of 2000-2001?

Do get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.

Mon 18 Jan 2021, 10:05 | Tags: postgraduate, Alumni, PG News, Feature