module specification

LL6064 - Public International Law (2022/23)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2022/23
Module title Public International Law
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 15
School Guildhall School of Business and Law
Total study hours 150
114 hours Guided independent study
36 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 100%   This will assess the ability cogently to discuss and critically analyse legal case studies
Running in 2022/23

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

Module summary

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

This 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 aims to 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.

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  LO1, LO2 and LO3

2. Introduction to the United Nations system and other international organisations  LO1, LO2 and LO3

3. Sources of International Law  LO1, LO2 and LO3
• 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  LO1, LO2 and LO3
• By judicial means
• By diplomatic means

5. Statehood and Recognition of States  LO1, LO2 and LO3
• International personality of international organisations
• Individuals
• Transnational corporations
• Groups of people

6. Jurisdiction of States over Territory, Persons and Events  LO1, LO2 and LO3

7. Diplomatic Immunity  LO1, LO2 and LO3

8. Acquisition of Title to Territory and Modern Boundary Disputes  LO1, LO2 and LO3

• Legal regimes of the Polar Regions and Outer Space

9. Use of Force by States  LO1, LO2 and LO3
• 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  LO1, LO2 and LO3

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Learning and 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 WebLearn and IT resources;
• Whole group questions and discussion.

The seminar will be used for the development of skills necessary to attain the module learning outcomes through:

• Written and oral questions/answers designed to reinforce fundamental rules, principles and cases;
• A range of step-by-step analytical exercises;
• Problem solving;
• IT tasks, such as research of cases and statutes;
• Legal writing.

Blended Learning

All learning materials, previous examination questions and sample Q/A’s will be on WebLearn 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.

Students’ 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 the principles of public international law.

2. Demonstrate the ability critically to discuss case study problems relating to the topics covered in the syllabus.

3. Demonstrate the ability to analyse contemporary issues relating to public international law.

Assessment strategy

Written coursework (2,000 words maximum)

This will assess the ability cogently to discuss and critically analyse legal case studies and/or contemporary legal issues within the context of the public international law.

Students will have a choice between 2 essays and 2 case studies.


The link to the Talis reading list will be provided when the module is due to start running.