Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
International Law
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 30 x 1 Hour Lectures
Seminar 3 x 2 Hour Seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay  of 1500 words required in week 10  33%
Semester Exam 1.5 Hours   Exam  (seen). Candidates are not permitted to bring any books, notes or any other materials into the examination.  67%
Supplementary Assessment Essay  of 1500 words - if essay element failed  33%
Supplementary Exam 1.5 Hours   Exam  (seen) -if exam element failed. Candidates are not permitted to bring any books, notes or any other materials into the examination.  67%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

Have an insight into, and understanding of, the salient features of the international legal system, in particular its distinctive law-making process and methods of securing compliance. They should also be able to explore in a more specific way the interaction of law and other forces at the international level and to develop an appreciation of the limits of law as a means of resolving international problems.
The coursework and examination are designed to encourage and enable the students to demonstrate their command of the principles and techniques of International Law.

Brief description

The study of International Law provides the student with the tools to understand the legal foundations for many of the most important events featured on daily news programmes.

International Law has traditionally been concerned with the legal relations between sovereign States and although such States remain the most significant actors on the international stage, the subject expanded considerably during the twentieth century to encompass the activities of international organisations - especially the United Nations and regional organisations such as the European Community - and also to some extent the position of individuals and non-governmental organisations. In a situation of fast-changing international relations it is also a highly topical field of law with a rapidly evolving content.

A study of international law, in addition, provides insight into the relation between different types of legal order, especially the interaction of international and municipal law. Much international law of both a global and a regional character is not translated into national legislation and some areas of national law are more easily understood when it is appreciated that they represent an implementation of international obligations.

The first part of this module comprises an introduction to the nature and working methods of the international legal system. The sources, subjects and methodology of international law differ from those found in most national (municipal) systems, and a study of the operation of the international legal system supplies illuminating comparisons for students of law generally. Stress is laid upon the way in which international law may work effectively in the absence of a compulsory judicial system and types of sanction commonly found in municipal systems. The study of international law alongside a system such as English Law is therefore also an exercise in jurisprudence.

The second part of the module builds upon this foundation by examining in greater depth selected areas of substantive law. The approach at this stage of the course is thematic, relating legal rules to contemporary issues of international concern, such as the use of force, the preservation of the environment, the world economic order, and the legal control of terrorism and other criminal activities that cross national boundaries.

The module is offered as an elective for both students of law and students in other degree schemes.


To inculcate an appreciation of the operation of law in a broad (i.e., international), political and economic context and to develop an understanding of the specific methodology of law at the international level; to develop the ability to apply general concepts and principles of international law to specific problems of contemporary significance.



The course is taught through lectures and seminars. The lectures are intended to provide a framework for more detailed study of the subject and point towards critical analyses. Seminars provide the opportunity for discussion and analysis of the subject in greater detail. Further research into the subject is encouraged through the assessed written assignment.

Subjects covered:

The nature of international law

The United Nations system
Personality under international law
The concept of personality in different legal systems
States as legal persons: the concept of statehood
The role of recognition in the creation of statehood
The personality of international organisations
The personality of individuals at the international level

Sources of international law and the international law-making process

Treaties: types of treaties and the treaty-making process
Custom: the requirements of custom and its nature as a source of law
General principles of law
Subsidiary sources: precedent and legal writing
Resolutions of the UN General Assembly
Problems in the development of international law

State sovereignty

The concept of state sovereignty: the distinction between sovereignty and other legal regimes in international law
The principles of non-intervention and the sovereign equality states
Methods of acquiring sovereignty over territory
The relevance of the principle of self-determination

The settlement of disputes in international law

Different methods of dispute resolution employed at the international level
The role of force in dispute settlement
The use of United Nations procedures
Dispute settlement in the context of the European Communities

Jurisdiction and immunity from jurisdiction

The bases of jurisdiction
Sovereign immunity
Diplomatic immunity

The basic principles of state responsibility

The use of force
Force in self-defence

Force under the authority of the Security Council
International criminal law

The protection of the basic rights of individuals and groups under international law

Basic problems arising from state sovereignty and questions of legal personality
The major systems of protection, global and regional, established since 1945
Problems of standard-setting and enforcement
Detailed consideration of the system set up under the European Convention on Human Rights and comparison with other regional systems

The relationship between international and municipal (state) law

'Monist' and 'Dualist' approaches to this question
The extent to which international law is part of the United Kingdom legal system


This module is at CQFW Level 6