LAW8144 : International Intellectual Property Law

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


To acquire knowledge and understanding of intellectual property law, including its operation in the context of international trade.

Although the acquisition and enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR) is primarily a matter of domestic law, international conventions secure a measure of harmonisation. The advent of the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement (TRIPS) and its incorporation into the world trade regime has rendered IP one of the most controversial aspects of international law. WTO member states must adopt and enforce minimum standards of IPR and are subject to the powerful dispute settlement procedure of the WTO. Contentious areas include access to natural resources such as biodiversity, genetically modified organisms, and patenting of life forms, access to medicines, and protection for cultural expressions, software and databases, as well as access to information.

The module allows for study of the three core IPR - patents, copyright and trade marks - and how international developments affect the formation and application of domestic IP law. It will be of interest to students who wish to work in international aspects of IP law, including trade policy or WTO law, and to those wishing to enter private commercial work.

Outline Of Syllabus

The history and development of the international IP system, and the justifications for IPR (patents, copyright and trade marks); the main treaties and their relationships; specific issues of IPR within an international context, such as protection of biodiversity, software protection and access to information.

Teaching Methods

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion161:0016:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials41:004:001 hr lecture + 1 hr student prep
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading151:0015:00Work towards position paper assignment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching81:008:00‘Seminars’
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops31:003:00Position paper development
Structured Guided LearningStructured non-synchronous discussion80:304:00MCQs with formative feedback
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study491:0049:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesScheduled on-line contact time11:001:00Live ‘Q&A’
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lecture materials: There will be four one-hour lectures, divided into ‘bite-size’ chunks and interspersed with online learning activities throughout the year, focusing on the substantive module content and cover the remit of the knowledge outcomes. As in the university module, on the basis of one hour of content delivery including an additional hour of student preparation activity, this amounts to eight hours of student activity.

Seminars: There will be eight one-hour small group classes, held on a synchronous basis, which will cover the issues of intellectual property substance (including copyright, patents and trade mark). Students will work together to develop a record of the seminar, which will be made available as an asynchronous source for students unable to attend, as well as a key revision material. These classes will meet the knowledge and cognitive skills outcomes.

Live Q&A: There will be one hour of ‘live’ Q&A held on the discussion board for the module after the introductory materials of the first week, allowing for students to ask questions and receive answers in real time, as well as providing a written record for students unable to attend the synchronous session.

Workshops: There will be three one hour workshops on developing a position paper, which will feed into the final assessment for students. The sessions will cover what a position paper is and why it is written, how to find information/conduct research that can help to formulate a position paper, and finally, how to write a position paper.

Structured non-synchronous discussion: There will be eight MCQ tests made available to students throughout the year, which can be completed in up to 30 minutes. These MCQs will provide students with an opportunity to test their understanding of the factual content of the course, reinforcing the knowledge outcomes and cognitive skills outcomes, with the provision of immediate formative feedback.

Independent study: There will be 45 hours of student independent study associated with this module

Directed research and reading: In order to better understand the policy drafting process, students will engage in 15 hours of directed research and reading that broadens the cognitive and transferable skills of students as they learn to prepare and present information to different audiences – these materials will go beyond intellectual property law to provide an interdisciplinary understanding of legal development and stakeholder engagement.

Guided independent study: Students will have 16 hours to prepare and complete their final assessment.

Assessment Methods

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Research paper1M1001500 word position paper
Zero Weighted Pass/Fail Assessments
Description When Set Comment
PortfolioMMCQs not weighted, but students required to complete as component of module
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The formative assessment is provided in the form of the MCQs that are structured around the lecture material and small-group classes, allowing students to test factual knowledge important for being able to then apply and critique the principles of contract law. This will allow classes to be more focused on critique and application, as opposed to cementing substantive factual content. A ‘summative’ element of these quizzes is that students must complete them in order to complete a module – they are non-weighted, and the number of correctly answered questions does not count to the final grade, but in order to ensure students keep up with course content and remain engaged, the completion of these MCQs will be graded on a ‘pass/fail’ basis for completion of the eight quizzes.

The final summative component is a policy paper of 1,500 words to be drafted on an area of concern in the field of international intellectual property law – rather than presenting students with a list of potential essay questions that they can answer, the drafting of a policy paper is linked to the skills activities identified in the learning objectives rationale, and allows for students to develop skills of policy drafting, innovation and adaptability, which are reflected in the Graduate Framework. By taking on the role of a state presenting a position in either the World Trade Organisation or World Intellectual Property Organisation, students are better placed to not only understand the law as is, but develop the ability to interrogate, apply and critique the law in a way that reinforces a deeper structural knowledge of the subject and its underlying rationale, as well as the real-world effects of intellectual property laws in different states. This helps to assess the transferable skills identified in the course as well as the cognitive skills and knowledge outcomes identified in the earlier sections of this form. The position paper will require students to consider the impacts of at least two areas of IP (e.g. copyright and patent, or trade secrecy and patent, or trade mark and traditional knowledge) applied to real world examples of topical concern. Furthermore, due to the nature of the assessment, and its links to the drafting activities, the assessment is more resistant to traditional forms of plagiarism and the use of ‘essay mills’ to produce papers on demand for students.

Reading Lists