World Trade Organisation (WTO) Law and Practice I - LAWS8470

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Autumn Term 7 20 (10) Donatella Alessandrini checkmark-circle


The establishment of the WTO on 1 January 1995 has signalled the beginning of a new era in international economic relations. Unlike the GATT, whose main purpose was the reduction of barriers on trade in goods, the WTO legal regime reach deeper into more areas of policy-making, ranging from the regulation of services and investments to the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights. Furthermore, through its Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU) the WTO has the capacity to generate case-law on the resolution of disputes under the WTO agreements that it covers. This marks a significant shift from the earlier GATT dispute settlement mechanism as it creates, for the first time on the multilateral level, a binding decision-making apparatus. Thus any serious attempt to understand the nature and development of international economic law requires a careful and detailed study of the WTO and its emergent law and practice. It is the cornerstone of the new global economic order. This module offers a comprehensive overview of this evolving legal and regulatory order.


Contact hours

Total study hours: 200
Contact hours: 18
Private study hours: 182


LLM in (Specialisation); LLM in Law; PG Diploma in (Specialisation); PG Certificate in Law

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods

The module will be assessed by 100% coursework as follows:

Essay, of no more than 5,000 words (100%)

Reassessment methods

100% coursework

Indicative reading

• D. Alessandrini, 'Developing Countries and the Multilateral Trade Regime: The Failure and Promise of the WTO's Development Mission'
(Hart, 2010).
• H.J. Chang, The Myth of Free Trade and the secret history of Capitalism (Bloomsbury Press, 2007)
• D. Harvey, The Enigma of Capital: and the Crises of Capitalism (London, Profile Books, 2010) 1-39
• D. Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism (Oxford University Press, 2005)
• A. Lang, World Trade Law After Neo-Liberalism: RE-Imagining the Global Economic Order (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011)
• M. Matsushita, T.M. Schoenmaum, P.C. Mavrodis. The World Trade Organisation. Law, Practice and Policy (Oxford University Press, 3rd
ed., 2015) (MSM)
• J.E. Stiglitz, A. Charlton, Fair trade for All: How Trade can Promote Development (Oxford University Press, 2005) (S&C)
• Michael J. Trebilcock, Robert Howse and Antonia Eliason The Regulation of International Trade (Routledge, 4th ed, 2013) (THE)
• R. Yearwood, The Interaction Between WTO Law and External International Law: The Constrained Openness of WTO Law (Routledge
Research in International Economic Law, 2011)

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 systematic knowledge and understanding of the legal and regulatory order being created by the WTO.
2. Demonstrate a critical understanding of this order in the light of: competing theories and ideologies of economic and social globalisation
and its regulation; and inter-state and inter-regional economic conflicts, especially as seen through decided cases before the dispute
settlement organs of the WTO.
3. Place the WTO into its historical context;
4. Demonstrate sophisticated knowledge of the WTO's relationship with other multilateral, regional and sub-regional economic groupings,
especially where this involves the interpretation of similar regulatory concepts;
5. Relate WTO law and practice to the national regulation of trade.
6. Engage in further comprehensive, interdisciplinary, study of the emerging law and practice of the WTO through an examination of: its
institutional background, theoretical and political approaches to the question of international trade regulation and liberalisation, the
principles of international economic dispute settlement;
7. Critically evaluate and examine the main provisions of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 1994, covering the main
concepts and legal questions raised by them.

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

1. Demonstrate comprehensive knowledge and understanding in the form of an original reasoned argument through written assessment.
2. Formulate, articulate and justify a point of view on the relative merits of differing approaches to regulation.
3. Demonstrate comprehensive independent research and creative thinking skills.


Stage 1


  1. Credit level 7. Undergraduate or postgraduate masters level module.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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