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LAW8452 : Challenges in International Trade Law: Global Systems & Governance (CITL)

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Francesco De Cecco
  • Owning School: Newcastle Law School
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


The aim of this course is to create an engaging, topically relevant and reflective consideration of contemporary challenges in regulating the trade of goods and services between states, taking an interdisciplinary study to the subject that goes beyond the laws passed to consider the international relations and political economy dimensions of trade, and how they serve to structure and delimit the boundaries of trade ‘law’. By doing so, this module goes beyond studying ‘just’ the WTO order, to placing the WTO in a broader context that considers the role of other institutions such as the World Intellectual Property Organization, World Health Organization and United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in shaping international trade, the role of the EU’s Common Commercial Policy in its engagement with trading partners, and the rise of the multilateral regional agreements, such as the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). The key objectives of this module are as follows:

1. To familiarise students with the ideas, interests and institutions that have served to create the current international trade system under the WTO
2. To provide students with technical knowledge and understanding of the functions of the WTO, its regulatory capacities and the functions of the Appellate Body;
3. To facilitate a critical reflection on the position of the WTO in current debates over the effective regulation of trade between states;
4. To explore the interactions between the WTO and other institutions such as the WHO, UNCTAD and WIPO;
5. To look at case studies on the move to regionalism and plurilateralism outside of the WTO framework;
6. To consider specific and topical examples of emerging issues in international trade, including for example current debates over trade and public health;

Outline Of Syllabus

The proposed outline of the syllabus is as follows, with the proviso that case studies will change each year dependent upon current issues, controversies and developments.

1. Theories of globalisation and an introduction to the political economy of trade
2. History of trade governance – from classic liberalism to Polanyi’s embedded liberalism to neoliberalism?
3. The Institutions of World Trade – from GATT to the WTO, WIPO and UNCTAD
4. The Core of WTO Law - Tariffs, MFN and Preferential Trade
5. The Core of WTO Law - Anti-Dumping, Subsidies and Exceptions
6. The Dispute Settlement Understanding and the Appellate Body Crisis
7. Emerging challenges to the WTO order – populism, protectionism and pessimism
8. Emerging challenges to the WTO order – public health, IP and trade
9. Emerging challenges to the WTO order – the environment, sustainability, and development
10. Rounding up and concluding thoughts

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion150:0050:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading120:0020:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities101:0010:00Activities based around weekly workshops
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops102:0020:00Online workshops
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery31:003:00Online drop-in sessions
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study197:0097:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

In terms of the specific teaching methods, workshops have been chosen as the most suitable method of teaching for this content, which combined an element of semi-structured lecturing with student interaction and activities. This is facilitated by the structured research and reading activities, where in advance of classes, students read materials provided before each session, discussing challenges in the international trade system related to the topic of the session. Students will then use this reading to develop a position in advance of the weekly student-led activity in each workshop. In addition to these formal classes, there will be a number of drop-in/surgery hours, where students can ask questions regarding course content, specific readings, or to prepare for the assessment for the module. Directed research and reading will be prepared for each session, which allows students to develop greater insight into the areas of legal research discussed in each activity, with an additional reading list provided on Canvas as further readings or a library list, which can then be used by students drafting their research proposal during their assessment preparation and completion.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M1003500 words
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise1M500 word essay outline
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assessment for this module comprises two elements: one 500 word essay outline activity, and one 3,500 word essay. The essay outline activitiy requires students to reflect on the content of the first half of the course, and then write an outline of 500 words that is used to write the final assessment. This allows students to get a better idea of what is expected from the summative assessment, and facilitates the provision of useful formative feedback that can be used to improve the final summative piece, improving levels of student confidence and attainment. The 3,500-word research essay builds upon this document and the feedback provided upon it, allowing for students to answer one of six set questions, conducting research into challenges in the international trade system.

Reading Lists