KBS_Icon_questionmark link-ico

Political Philosophy and International Law (Module)

Module description

*Please note that although all module information is correct for the 2017/18 academic year, it is subject to change for future academic years. 


This course invites students to delve into philosophical argument about international law. The syllabus combines text-based and theme-based approaches. The course is particularly suited to students interested in normative argument about the international order. Three main themes that will run through the course are sovereignty, international institutions and human rights.

A background in international law and/or legal and political philosophy is desirable, but not a prerequisite.


The aims of the course are as follows:

i) to develop a critical understanding of key ideas, concepts and themes in the philosophy of international law, particularly in relation to state sovereignty, human rights, legitimacy and international institutions;

ii) to develop an in-depth understanding of a selection of texts from the works of a selection of key thinkers in the history of international legal and political thought; and

iii) to assess the significance of ideas in the development of international law.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to demonstrate:

i) an understanding of the relationship between political theory and international law;

ii) in-depth knowledge of a selection of key “canonical” texts;

iii) insight into the main debates on the thinkers covered in the course among intellectual historians and philosophers; and

iv) an ability to discuss and make arguments on central ideas in international law – state sovereignty, human rights, legitimacy and international institutions – with philosophical nuance.

Staff information

Professor John Tasioulas*

Professor Guglielmo Verdirame*

Professor Leif Wenar*

Teaching pattern

Typically, 1 credit equates to 10 hours of work. For a one term 20-credit module, this will equate to 20 hours of teaching (2 hours per week) with 180 hours of self study.

Module assessment - more information

Exam only*

Key information

Module code 7SSWM050

Credit level 7

Assessment written examination/s

Credit value 20

Semester Semester 2 (spring)

Study abroad module No