Legal Aspects of Contemporary International Problems - LAWS8441

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


There are a number of ways to study the field of international law. It can be treated doctrinally as a system of rules from various sources – such as treaties, state practices that are seen to have the binding force of law, and general principles shared across domestic jurisdictions – built up over time to regulate interactions between states and other entities. It can be studied as a historical phenomenon, emerging out of a colonial history with contemporary implications. It can also be studied as an (imperfect) approach to addressing international 'problems', placing international law in broader social, political, and historical contexts as one possible source of ‘solutions’. This course starts from international law as an approach, highlighting the field’s limits and possibilities in relation to a set of contemporary inter- and trans-national concerns, which may include the use of armed force, responses to emerging security threats, and unresolved territorial disputes. The course focuses on a changing set of key themes in international law, such as sovereignty, statehood, self-determination, and the regulation of armed conflict. It explores these overlapping themes as they emerge across several issues and case studies, bringing international law into a relationship with contemporary geopolitics and the field’s historical inheritance.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 20
Private study hours: 180
Total study hours: 200


Canterbury – optional to the:
LLM in (Specialisation)
PG Diploma in (Specialisation)
PG Certificate in Law
MA in International Law with International Relations

Brussels – compulsory to the:
LLM and MA in (Specialisation)
PG Diploma in (Specialisation)
PG Certificate in (Specialisation)

Method of assessment

• Essay of no more than 5000 words (100%)

Indicative reading

• Anghie, Anthony, Imperialism, Sovereignty and the Making of International Law, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).
• Aust, Anthony, Handbook of International Law, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010).
• Crawford, James and Martti Koskenniemi (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to International Law, (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 2012).
• Klabbers, Jan, International Law, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013).
• Shaw, Malcolm N, International Law 6th ed., (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate a sophisticated knowledge and understanding of the concepts, principles and rules of international law and transnational law
and examine their interaction with contemporary international events.
2. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the relevance of international law and transnational law to particular international policy problems.
3. Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the possibilities and the limitations of legal method in international disputes.
4. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the relationship between international law and international politics.
5. Critically analyse the theory as practice of public international law.
6. Anticipate and map different legal arguments as directed toward particular global policy challenges.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. Critically evaluate the application and practice of law within and across different contexts.
2. Identify relevant scholarly issues from complex factual situations.
3. Undertake independent and original research and formulate reasoned and critical arguments.
4. Analyse complex problems from a range of different theoretical perspectives and disciplinary approaches.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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