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LAW8551 : International Criminal Law

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s):
  • Owning School: Newcastle Law School
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This module aims to give students:

- comprehensive knowledge and understanding of how international criminal law evolved, particularly in the post-World War II era;

- an understanding of the substantive law according to which an individual may be held criminally responsible for serious violations of international law such as war crimes and crimes against humanity;

- the ability to critically assess the role of State immunities, amnesties and defences (i.e. superior orders) in international criminal law;

- in-depth analysis of the existing international judicial mechanisms available for the punishment of individuals responsible for international crimes and to critically assess their strengths and weaknesses.

The first part of the module will focus on substantive law, i.e. what constitutes an international crime, what is the applicable law and what is the role of State immunities, amnesties and defences for the prosecution of international crimes. The second part will focus predominantly on the international judicial mechanisms for the prosecution of international crimes, such as the International Criminal Court, the two ad hoc International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

The module will enhance students’ ability to conduct independent research, to engage in critical legal thinking and to develop and present well-formulated and well-substantiated legal arguments.

Outline Of Syllabus

• Introduction: Nature of International Criminal Law
• War Crimes
• Crimes Against Humanity
• Genocide
• Aggression
• Amnesties – Immunities – Defences
• The Ad Hoc International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda
• The International Criminal Court
• Other hybrid tribunals such as the Special Court for Sierra Leone

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture12:002:00In-person class (Flex-moved to synchronous online)
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion601:0060:00Own reading and revision of substantive module content, combined with directed readings
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching102:0020:00In person classes (Flex – moved to synchronous online)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching12:002:00Film showing
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1071:00107:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesScheduled on-line contact time51:005:00Five drop-in sessions for all students to ask questions
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesScheduled on-line contact time22:004:00One two-hour essay feedforward session and one two-hour essay feedback session
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The seminars will be interactive and will require advanced preparation. The rationale for this teaching method is to promote analytical, argumentative and critical skills essential for discourse. The learning methods will rely on directed self study for the contact teaching time and independent study for the preparation of assessed coursework which will bring together the knowledge, cognitive, research and the assessed key skills.

At the beginning of the module students will be given a problem-based question which will cover legal aspects to be considered in depth during the module. Students will be divided into groups and each group will be required to present their legal findings at the end of the semester and before submission of the essay.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M1003000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The coursework is justified in that it enables candidates to demonstrate in particular the outcome of research, written communication of a sophisticated order and the ability to show depth of understanding together with a range of cognitive skills.

Reading Lists