module specification

LL6005 - Public International Law (2021/22)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2021/22
Module status DELETED (This module is no longer running)
Module title Public International Law
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 30
School Guildhall School of Business and Law
Total study hours 300
219 hours Guided independent study
81 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 50%   1.Written Coursework (2,500 - 3,000 words)
Coursework 50%   2. Written Coursework (2,500 - 3,000 words)
Running in 2021/22

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Thursday Morning

Module summary

International law is increasingly important to states, organisations and individuals, and impacts on every aspect of modern life.

This 30 credit module will provide students with a thorough knowledge of the key concepts of international law, such as the sources of international law, the definition of statehood, the principle of self-determination, states’ acquisition of title to territory and jurisdiction over territory and people, state responsibility for unlawful acts, and states’ use of force. 

Knowledge of the key principles and substantive topics will be matched with understanding of the operation of international law in the real world.  Students will be encouraged to approach the subject critically and to develop their analytic skills to the highest level.

The module will introduce students to the current debates and challenges in this subject, with a focus on topical examples which will bring the subject to life and motivate students to explore the subject more fully.

Teaching will be by a combination of lecture, seminar (academic discussion) and workshop (developing academic and transferable skills such as critical thinking and oral and written communication skills).


The module will be of interest to all students who take an interest in current affairs, international relations, the international order, international peace and security.

The module is relevant to a wide range of careers in law, government, politics, international relations, the media, and international business.


1. Nature and history of International Law           LO 1 and 2                    

2. Introduction to the United Nations system and other international organisations   LO 1 and 2

3. Sources of International Law   LO 1 and 2

Treaties and treaty interpretation
Formation of customary rules and jus cogens
General principles of law and other sources

4. Peaceful Settlement of Disputes in International Law     LO 1 and 2

By judicial means
By diplomatic means

5. Statehood and Recognition of States            LO 1 and 2

International personality of international organisations
Transnational corporations
Groups of people

6. Jurisdiction of States over Territory, Persons and Events          LO 1 and 2

7. Diplomatic Immunity            LO 1 and 2

8. Acquisition of Title to Territory and Modern Boundary Disputes     LO 1 and 2

Legal regimes of the Polar Regions and Outer Space
9. Use of Force by States                                                  LO 1 and 2

Prohibition of the use of force and self-defence
The role of the UN and UN system of collective security
State responsibility for wrongful acts

10. Law of the Sea                                                    LO 1 and 2

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Learning & Teaching Strategy

Weekly two-hour lecture and one-hour seminar. 

The lecture will be used for:

Dissemination of knowledge through an overview of each topic with detailed guidance on appropriate aspects;
An introduction to relevant academic literature;
Guidance on learning strategies;
Use of blackboard and IT resources;
Whole group questions and discussion.

The seminar will be used for:

Development of skills necessary to attain the module learning outcomes through:
Written and oral questions/answers designed to reinforce fundamental rules/principles/cases;
A range of step by step writing exercises;
IT tasks such as research of cases and statutes
Critical analysis
Legal writing

Blended Learning

All learning materials, previous examination questions and sample Q/A’s will be on blackboard for use in directed private study.

Student engagement will be encouraged in both lectures and seminars through weekly use of Weblearn for access to all of the above materials.

There will be required use of the professional legal databases, especially Westlaw and Lexis Library, for legal research

Opportunities for reflective learning/pdp

Each weekly seminar will contain space for students to reflect on what they have learnt in relation to the overall syllabus. There will be frequent feedback opportunities structured into the timetable and a range of sample answers posted onto Weblearn.



Employability strategy will aim to acquaint students with a range of employment avenues both in the legal profession and in those professions into which legal qualifications and skills are transferable.

Student’s Study Responsibilities

The need for attendance, punctuality, preparation and engagement will be emphasised with particular reference to written and IT research, problem-solving, team-work, discussion, debate and critical awareness of the subject.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, the students will be able to:

1. Independently research, evaluate, critically analysis and appraise the principles of – and controversies surrounding – public international law.

2. Demonstrate the ability to synthesise complex principles, solve legal problems and analyse contemporary issues relating to public international law.

Assessment strategy

Description of assessment items

1. Written Coursework (2,500 – 3,000 words)

An essay concentrating on the principles of international law covered thus far, set in the style of exam questions. Students will be expected to show a critical understanding of the principles of the subject, as well as their application to fictional situations and continuing and changing relevance today. .

2. Written Coursework (2,500 – 3,000 words)

Independent research based essay involving critical analysis and appraisal of advanced principles of public international law with a critical focus on the legal issues in their political, economic and historical contexts.


Core Texts:
Aust, A,  Handbook of International Law, (Cambridge University Press)
Dixon,  M, Textbook on International Law, (OUP) 

Other Texts:

Dixon, M & R McCorquodale,  Cases and Materials on International Law (OUP)
Evans, M, International Law Documents  (OUP)
Harris, D, Cases and Materials on International Law, (Sweet & Maxwell)
Higgins, R, Problems and Process - International Law and How We Use It (OUP)
Shaw, M, International Law, (Cambridge University Press)
Simma, B, Charter of the United Nations: A Commentary, (OUP)


American Journal of International Law
Proceedings of the American Society of International Law
International and Comparative Law Quarterly
British Yearbook of International Law
International Legal Materials
Reports of the International Court of Justice
International Law Reports

Websites:  -  website of the United Nations  -  website of the International Court of Justice  -  website of the American Journal of International Law, short article pages

Electronic Databases:

Westlaw and Lexis Library