LAW8562 : The Law of the WTO

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


The law of international trade has become one of the most important areas of international law and policy, particularly since the adoption of the WTO Agreement in 1994. Trade law is now enforced through powerful dispute settlement mechanisms, and extends beyond the basic rules of non-discrimination and tariff reduction to regulating governmental policies such as safety standards, subsidies and environmental protection. The current negotiating agenda is focused on the needs of developing countries, but investment laws and competition law are likely to be covered by WTO law in the future.

This module is designed for those who wish to go into trade policy work or practise in WTO law in any of its specialities, and it is instructive for those who wish to go into private commercial work but are interested in understanding the international law and policy affecting trade between nations.

Student aims: to acquire knowledge and understanding of the law and institutions of the WTO (including GATT and GATS), and their relationship with non-trade values such as environmental protection.

Outline Of Syllabus

The theory behind liberalised trade
The institutional structure and powers of the WTO, including its dispute settlement procedure
The fundamental principles of GATT 1994, including non-discrimination and general exceptions
The fundamental principles of GATS, and how these compare to the principles of GATT 1947/1994.
Resolution of conflicts between international trade rules and non-trade policy instruments, e.g.
environmental protection measures

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture72:0014:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching21:002:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery41:004:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study801:0080:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The module will be taught using interactive lectures, supported by two revision seminars. The interactive lecture format will require students to participate in class discussions on material that they have prepared prior to the lectures. As an advanced knowledge module (wherein independent student learning through reading and evaluating different primary and secondary source materials is vital) the students will benefit greatly from learning from each other as well as the module convenor. These type of lectures enable interactive group discussions. An interactive lecture setup is appropriately flexible to allow for the use of student presentations where appropriate.

These lectures are supported by two revision seminars so that students have an explicit opportunity for closer small-group interaction with the module convenor prior to sitting the examination, and will additionally be able to benefit from the revision work having been done by their peers to highlight points of their own revision that require further attention.

The hours of surgery scheduled reflect on the fact that different students have different needs and abilities, particularly linguistically and in the first few weeks of term. While there is relatively little flexibility in slowing down the seminar teaching to cater to students' needs, it is acknowledged that some (if not all) students may require additional support in understanding and reflecting upon the materials. The scheduled hours will enable student interaction to clarify issues discussed in seminars. The setup of course is also such that issues raised in surgery will be replicated on Blackboard, so that other students can also benefit from surgery time they did not personally attend.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1351A1003 out of 6 questions
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Written Examination1M2 questions
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

This module requires extensive reading and absorption of detailed principles and practice. Students will be asked to sit a formative examination in the middle of semester 1 to test their awareness and knowledge of issues discussed at the beginnings of the module. On this they will receive detailed feedback on their writing style, legal knowledge and argumentation abilities that will further prepare them for the exam.

The examination will be the basis for further testing of students' skills and knowledge, acquired throughout the entirety of the module; it will be broader and more demanding in terms of scope and level of knowledge demonstrated and applied.

Reading Lists