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Public International Law (Module)

Module description

Module description

This module provides an introduction to the concepts, principles, institutions and debates that define public international law today. We begin with an overview of the international legal system, considering how international law is made, how it relates to national legal systems, and what scope exists for pursuing those who violate it. In this connection we examine the work of the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court and the various ad hoc international criminal tribunals, along with judgments of national courts invoking international law.

We then take up a range of topical issues of global concern, studying the ways in which they affect and are affected by public international law. The issues to be discussed are likely to include: terrorism and counter-terrorism, war and ‘humanitarian intervention’, and global poverty and trade liberalisation. We also investigate aspects of the history of international law, its role in relation to the establishment and retreat of European empires, and its contemporary significance and prospects. Overall, our aim is to lay the basis for an informed assessment of the contribution and limits of international law as a force in world affairs.

*Please note that module information is indicative and may change from year to year.

Staff information


Teaching pattern

1 x 1-hour lecture per week, 1 x 2-hour seminar per week.

Recommended reading: M. Evans (ed), International Law (2nd ed., 2006), H. Charlesworth and C. Chinkin, The Boundaries of International Law (2000), M. Shaw, International Law (6th ed., 2008), A. Cassese, International Law (2nd ed., 2005), M. Koskenniemi, From Apology to Utopia (rev. ed., 2006).
Other references to be provided.

Module assessment - more information

3-hour closed book examination.

Key information

Module code 6FFLK008

Credit level 6

Assessment written examination/s

Credit value 30

Semester Full-year

Study abroad module Yes