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

  • Offered for Year: 2021/22
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Ben Farrand
  • 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 functions of the WTO, MFNs and Preferential Trade Agreements
5. The key principles of international trade law – from national treatment to trade in services
6. Emerging challenges to the WTO order – populism, protectionism and pessimism
7. Regionalism example one: the EU and the Common Commercial Policy, NAFTA
8. Regionalism example two: Mercosur, ASEAN and CARICOM
9. Plurilateralism and the Trans Pacific Partnership
10. Current issue case studies: may include (but is not limited to) trade and the environment, trade and labour standards, trade and public health

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion160:0060:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching112:0022:00In person classes (FLEX: can be moved to synchronous small group teaching if required)
Guided Independent StudySkills practice41:004:004 1-hour Canvas-facilitated activities to familarise students with key theories, ideas and concepts.
Guided Independent StudySkills practice120:153:0012 Multiple Choice Quizzes so students can self-test understanding of module content & have feedback
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1107:00107:00Own reading/revision of substantive module content with directed readings in advance of seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesScheduled on-line contact time41:004:004 1-hour long Q&A sessions placed throughout the module in order to allow students to ask questions
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Small group teaching has been determined to be the most effective mode of content delivery for PGT students, allowing for a blend of instructor-led discussion and student-led group work, which is preferable to relying predominantly on lectures for student contact. The four one-hour long online activities will provide students with opportunities to test their knowledge and understanding of course content through four activities – the first, interpreting and answering questions on the WTO Agreement, the second the interpretation of national legislation implementing TRIPS requirements, the third an academic article, and the fourth (which leads into the final assessment), which involves students reviewing and assessing a sample assignment essay.

The scheduled online Q&As allow for students to ‘drop in’ and ask questions concerning course content, and the MCQ activities provide students with instantaneous formative feedback on their understanding of substantive factual course content.

The teaching methods have been adapted for delivery in the post-COVID environment and are based on the presumption that in person lectures, seminars and in-person drop-in sessions will be possible but that this shall need to be supplemented by making alternative arrangements under ‘FLEX’ in case of the possibility of more limited possibilities for on Campus teaching).

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M100A research assessment in which students are expected to answer one of three offered questions. 2500 words.
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise1MThis writing activity will familarise students with the expectations of postgraduate written work. 1000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The formative assessment is provided in the form of a writing activity. Set at the beginning of semester and drawing from the content of the first four weeks of the module content, this activity both familiarises students with the expectations and conventions of writing at LLM level, as well as allowing for students to be assessed on their understanding of the theories and concepts serving as the ideational basis for the international trade system. The feedback provided in this assessment will directly prepare students for their final assessed essay for the module.

The final summative component is a full 2,500 word assessed research essay. Students will be expected to answer one of three assigned questions, which each covers a range of the topics covered throughout the module, or alternatively, propose their own research topic that is subject to module leader approval. This assessed essay will test their ability to think critically and reflect upon both module content and the substance of the interdisciplinary course content, so that they are able to then apply their legal knowledge to questions concerning complex real-world scenario situations, be they related to topics such as dumping or preferential trade agreements, or the interactions between public health goals and world trade goals. Students will be expected to go beyond ‘traditional’ doctrinal assessment, engaging with a wider body of materials (as discussed throughout the course), to provide a more holistic understanding of the interactions between international relations, political economy and law in the functions of the global trading system.

Reading Lists