module specification

GI7012 - International Law and International Order (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title International Law and International Order
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School School of Social Sciences
Total study hours 200
155 hours Guided independent study
45 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 100%   5,000-word essay
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester North Wednesday Evening

Module summary

This core module introduces students to the systematic study of International Law in an international relations context.

Module aims

The module is designed to enable students to explore the substance and roles of international law in international relations in such a way that they have a firm grasp of international law and understand its roles in contemporary conflicts. It seeks to achieve these aims by ensuring that students understand (a) the basic principles of international law and its related institutions and (b) the role of these in maintaining and promoting international order. To further these aims, students will engage with a number of case studies (e.g., South China Seas, Kosovo, Israel/Palestine, Iraq war, Somalia, Brexit, Russia/Crimea). As far as possible, the teaching materials reflect developing contemporary situations.


At the beginning of the module, students are introduced to fundamental concepts and principles of international law – notably: the sources of international law; the relation between international and domestic law; and the stability of international borders and self-determination. They are also familiarised with central institutions in the field of international law. On the basis of what has by then been absorbed, students explore a series of case studies – eg, South China Seas, Kosovo, Israel/Palestine, Iraq war, Somalia, Brexit, Russia/Crimea – so as to apply the concepts now at their disposal.

Learning and teaching

The module is taught through lectures, seminars and tutorials. It is supported by a Weblearn site that provides students with reading materials to support seminars. It also offers guidance to further independent study.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  1.  Understand and construct international legal arguments.
  2. Articulate and explain the fundamental sources and concepts of public international law, in the contemporary context
  3. Demonstrate a knowledge and critical analysis of the main international institutions and mechanisms for regulating conflicts and their capacity and effectiveness
  4. Evaluate the relationship between international law and international relations, on the basis of in-depth studies of specific situations.

Assessment strategy

Students are required to write a 5,000 word essay on  a topic chosen from a list provided by the module tutor.

In addition to making high demands on students’ writing and research skills, this task will test their grasp of the principles of international law and their ability to apply them to concrete situations.


• Martin Dixon, Textbook on International Law, 7th ed., Oxford University Press, 2013 (Module textbook)
• Malcolm N. Shaw, International Law, 7th ed., Cambridge University Press, 2014
• David Harris and Sandesh Sivakumaran, Caes and Materials on International Law, 8th ed., Sweet and Maxwell, 2015
• Yoram Dinstein, War, Aggression and Self-Defence, 5th ed.,. Cambridge University Press, 2012.
• J. G. Merrills, International Dispute Settlement, 5th ed., Cambridge University Press, 2011
• Robert Cryer, et al., An Introduction to International Criminal Law and Procedure, 3rd ed., Cambridge University Press, 2014
• Rosalyn Higgins Problems and Process: International Law and How We Use It, Oxford University Press, 1995
• European Journal of International Law
• American Journal of International Law

• ASIL Insight series:
• Opinio juris:
• International Law Observer:
• EJIL Talk: