LLB Law with Politics

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Public International Law

Course unit fact file
Unit code LAWS20372
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Law
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


The course focuses on Public International Law as a legal system, as well as aspects of the substantive provisions of International Law. The following topics are covered throughout the course, although treatment of the topics may be selective within them: history, subjects and sources of international law, state responsibilities, law of treaties, peaceful settlement of disputes especially the International Court of Justice, state jurisdiction and immunities; international criminal justice, international environmental law, international human rights law and the use of force, including through the use of new modes and methods of warfare, and in the counterterrorism context.


The objectives of the course are to provide a general background to the subject of International Law, and to focus on particular issues in some depth. In this manner the course provides both an insight into international affairs, and an understanding of the role of law in the development of international relations. In addition, it is hoped to demonstrate the increasing relationship of International Law with national law; and generally the relevance of International Law to practitioners in the domestic legal system. Wherever possible it draws on contemporary international issues, and to examine these from a legal perspective. Finally, the course is hoped to allow students to start reflecting on the shift of the international legal order from a classical jus inter gentes to a law of global governance.


To facilitate a focus both on International Law as a legal system, as well as aspects of the substantive provisions of International Law.

To provide students with an insight into International Law -- particularly its basic structures and foundations. This insight is provided against a general background of contemporary international affairs.

To orientate students with the basic analytical, presentational and research skills specific to International Law.

To provide a general background to the subject of International Law, and to focus on particular issues in some depth.

Learning outcomes


Teaching and learning methods

30 hours of lectures, five hours of (fortnightly) seminars and 10 hours of (weekly) direction and feedback drop in sessions.

The delivery of lectures will be traditionally led.

Seminars will involve discussion around problem and essay questions.

Students are expected to actively participate both in the lectures and seminars. Students are encouraged to read before attending lectures the relevant materials from one of the recommended textbooks and/or casebook. Preparation for seminars is compulsory.

Students are encouraged to keep abreast with developments in international relations.

Knowledge and understanding

An ability to understand the relevant norms of International Law -- including customary norms, general principles, treaties, judicial decisions and writings.

Familiarity with the current state of the law and international affairs.

A capacity to identify and analyse critically the key issues in Public International Law

Practical skills

An ability to collect information from the sources available.

An ability to analyse the subject, to recognize its assumptions, arguments, conclusions and implications.

An ability to criticize the information to demonstrate possible inconsistencies, omissions and faulty reasoning. An ability to argue effectively and relevantly both in writing and discussion.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

An ability to think logically, to assess competing principles impartially and to identify and solve international legal problems. An ability to discuss such problems orally and to articulate relevant conclusions. An ability to think independently and to use one's own initiative in developing reforms. An ability to manage one's own study- time and meet deadlines. An ability to utilize search engines, navigate the Internet and make appropriate use of relevant websites.

Assessment methods

Depending on the situation with Covid19 and government advice in place, the course will be examined by way of a formal written examination. The examination will be composed of both essay and problem questions. Candidates may not take any materials into the examination. The examination paper will comprise of six questions. Candidates will be expected to answer any three questions from the six questions set. Further clarification on the examination will be provided in due course.

Feedback methods

Formative feedback is provided with optional non-assessed coursework.

Outlines of issues will be published after the exams.

Recommended reading

This module does not have any required books for purchase. The required and supplemental readings for each week are detailed in the course document and are all available via the University Library. An electronic version of the reading list is accessible via Reading Lists online. Journal articles and e-books are also available via the Library’s e-resources.


Students seeking sophisticated yet accessible overviews of many topics in this module may wish to consult the following:


James Crawford, Brownlie's Principles of Public International Law (9th edn, OUP 2019)

Gleider Hernández, International Law (1st edn, OUP 2019)

Martin Dixon, Textbook on International Law (7th edn, OUP 2013)

MN Shaw, International Law (9th edn, CUP 2021)

Malcolm Evans, International Law (5th edition, OUP 2018)


Cases and Materials:

Martin Dixon, Robert McCorquodale and Sarah Williams, Cases & Materials on International Law (6th edn, OUP 2016)

David Harris and Sandesh Sivakumaran, Cases and Materials on International Law (9th edn, Sweet & Maxwell 2020

A Abass, International Law, Text, Cases and Materials (2nd edn, OUP 2014)          



Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International law (OUP) www.mpepil.com



American journal of International Law (AJIL)

International Comparative Law Quarterly (ICLQ);

British Year Book Of International Law (BYIL)

European Journal of International Law



United Nations Treaty Series (ILM)


Law Reports:

International Court of Justice (ICJ) https://www.icj-cij.org/en/cases

International Law Reports (ILR)

Reports International Legal Materials (ILM)


Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Rebecca Mignot-Mahdavi Unit coordinator
Gail Lythgoe Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Open book examination.


Restricted to: LLB/BA (Law with Politics) and LLB (Law) second and third year students and available to all SOSS students as well as students University wide.  This course is available to incoming study abroad students.

Pre-requisites: This course is desirable but not essential for those students who wish to study LAWS31082 International Courts and Tribunals in their final year.

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