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LAW8146 : Foundations of Public International Law

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Elena Katselli
  • Lecturer: Dr Elliot Winter
  • Owning School: Newcastle Law School
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


This module aims to provide an advanced understanding of the international legal order and the legal norms and principles that regulate the behaviour of and interaction between states and other actors and to critically reflect on the effectiveness and adequacy of the system in a contemporary setting.

To equip students with comprehensive knowledge on the nature and function of the international legal order and the principles upon which it is founded;

To enable student understanding on the inter-relationship between the international and national legal orders;

To advance student understanding on the mechanisms of international norm creation and the subjects of international law;

To enable students to reflect critically on the strengths and weaknesses of the international legal system;

To familiarise students with the secondary norms that are generated as soon as primary norms of international law are breached;

To examine the mechanisms under the United Nations for safeguarding international peace and security and for the peaceful resolution of international disputes;

To provide an in-depth understanding of selected substantive issues such as the circumstances under which states can resort to the use of armed force.

Outline Of Syllabus

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following topics:

* History, Nature and Function of International Law and its Relation with National Law
* Sources of International Law
* Law of Treaties
* The Subjects of International Law / Recognition
* Secession / Self-determination
* International Responsibility of States and Enforcement of International Law
* Jurisdiction and Immunities from Jurisdiction
* The United Nations System and International Dispute Settlement Procedures: The UN System
* The United Nations System and International Dispute Settlement Procedures: International Court of Justice
* Use of Force and the Law of Armed Conflict: Security Council and self-defence
* Humanitarian intervention
* International Human Rights

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion601:0060:00Combination of own reading and revision of substantive module content, with directed reading
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching122:0024:00Synchronous/non-synchronous seminars
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1161:00116:00Combination of own reading and revision of substantive module content, with directed reading
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The seminars will be interactive and will require advance preparation on identified issues. This method of teaching is appropriate at post-graduate level where students are called to engage in in-depth critical engagement on identified issues. Seminars provide an opportunity to strengthen student understanding of key issues through discussion and active student engagement through advanced reading and preparation on selected issues.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1351A67Written in-house exam. 3 out of 6 questions.
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M332000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The exam provides an opportunity to develop student critical analytical and problem-solving skills in a focused manner on a wider range of topics. The essay provides an opportunity to develop student independent research skills and in-depth critical evaluation. Students need to demonstrate a well-rounded understanding of relevant debates on set topic and advance legal arguments in a clear and coherent way.

Alternative assessment for exam: if the exam cannot take place due to public health circumstances, it will be replaced with a 24 hour take home exam.

Reading Lists