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Module SXL-4040:
Public International Law

Module Facts

Run by School of Law

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Tara Smith

Overall aims and purpose

This module will give students an advanced understanding of public international law, which is essential for progress to more advanced study of the various specialised areas of the discipline. Through this module, postgraduate students will learn about the fundamental values, principles, and rules of public international law. It will be a balanced course, with the essential elements of history, theory, law and practice well covered. Students will emerge with a new, solid understanding of public international law, its underlying principles and values, as well as many technical rules that apply in the international system. They will be well prepared for further specialised studies in international law on the programmes that Bangor Law School offers.

Course content

In a nutshell, students will learn about the fundamental values, principles and rules of public international law. This will be a balanced course, with the essential elements of history, theory, law and practice being presented. Students will learn about the international legal system and the way that it works. They will be instructed in the structure, formation and sources of public international law and how it differs from domestic law. Students will learn about treaties, custom, general principles, decisions of courts of law and international institutions as well as read many of the writings of eminent authorities. They will study the interaction of international and domestic law, and the interplay between international relations, domestic politics and law. They will engage with some of the more specialised areas, which could include the Use of Force, State Responsibility or Jurisdiction and Immunities. Realpolitik is always present in international law and the course will be contextualised. Students will be taught not just about the content of the rules, but also how to apply them, through examination of contemporary issues and situations of importance in international law, and case studies. The approach taken in the course encourages critical thinking and reflection, as well the development of a global perspective.

Assessment Criteria

threshold

Displays ability within a specialized area of knowledge and skills, employing appropriate skills to conduct research. Work at threshold quality demonstrates an adequate knowledge and understanding of current issues in this field of study. It shows a critical awareness of current problems, some of which is informed by thinking at the forefront of the academic discipline. Work at this level shows a developing understanding of techniques applicable to the student’s own research. It shows an ability to apply knowledge in an original way, and to use established techniques of research and enquiry to interpret knowledge in the discipline. The conceptual understanding evidenced by the work indicates that the student can evaluate scholarship in the field.

good

Displays accomplished ability within a specialized area of knowledge and skills, employing good quality skills to conduct research. Good work in this module will demonstrate a systematic knowledge and understanding of current issues in this field of study. It shows a critical awareness of current problems, much of which is at, or informed by thinking at, the forefront of the academic discipline. Work at this level shows a comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to the student’s own research. It shows an ability to apply knowledge in an original way, and to use established techniques of research and enquiry to create and interpret knowledge in the discipline. The conceptual understanding evidenced in the work indicates that the student can evaluate advanced scholarship in the discipline. The work shows an ability to evaluate methodologies and develop critiques of them, and, where, appropriate, propose hypotheses.

excellent

Displays mastery of a complex and specialized area of knowledge and skills, employing advanced skills to conduct research. Excellent work in this module will contain the qualities recognized in good work, but will show them in a more consistent way, and at all points. It will demonstrate a systematic knowledge and understanding of current issues in this field of study. It shows a critical awareness of current problems, much of which is at the forefront of this academic discipline. Work at this level shows a comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to the student’s own research or to advanced scholarship. It shows throughout an ability to apply knowledge in an original way, and to use established techniques of research and enquiry to create and interpret knowledge in the discipline. The conceptual understanding evidenced in the work indicates that the student can critically evaluate advanced scholarship in the discipline, and do so in a consistent manner. The work shows an ability to evaluate methodologies and develop critiques of them, and, where, appropriate, propose hypotheses.

Learning outcomes

  1. Demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of global affairs and the critical role of States and international organisations such as the United Nations and the International Court of Justice.

  2. Demonstrate an advanced conceptual understanding of what Public International Law is, whom or what it affects, the system within which it operates, and how that differs to the domestic regime.

  3. Master the foundational concepts, principles and fundamental rules of Public International Law, and be able to put these into the context of contemporary international challenges.

  4. Engage directly with primary legal materials as well as advanced scholarly works, and be able to critically assess leading decisions of international courts and tribunals, and the contribution that these decisions have made.

  5. Identify the rules of Public International Law, critically evaluate and analyse them, and apply them appropriately to solve problems of an international nature (legal reasoning).

  6. Critically assess areas of legal controversy and competing interpretations of the law.

  7. Demonstrate an understanding of the challenges that this area of the law has faced and will continue to face.

  8. To develop and employ enhanced research skills by using traditional library sources involving books, journals and case reports, modern electronic facilities such as online databases and internet resources and multimedia, as well as learning to engage in creative and critical thinking and postgraduate level drafting and writing.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Research Essay 75
Assessed Essay Plan 25

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Hours
Private study 178
Seminar

Public International Law will consist of 11 x 2 hour teaching blocks. Essential preparatory readings will be notified to students in advance or provided in advance of class. For each session, students will be expected to have prepared essential reading together with any special assignments given for that particular class. Most of the readings that are set will come from the core text, with some additional readings. The instructor will consolidate that initial foundational understanding with lecturing and explanation of complex issues of theory, law and practice and contextualise the teaching in discussions using real life examples. Audiovisual materials may be used to enhance the learning experience. Students will be expected to be able to engage in dialogue about substantive issues for each class, and be actively engaged in class activities and group presentations that will enhance their understanding.

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Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting

Subject specific skills

  • Demonstrate the ability to develop and consolidate legal research skills via the dissertation which will involve analytical examination of caselaw, legislation and international convention. Also the student will deepen their legal reasoning ability on account of extensive analysis of legal journals and academic commentary.
  • demonstrate the ability to work with others in a team to achieve reasoned, critical, comparative perspectives upon legal questions.
  • demonstrate the ability to work with others in a team to achieve reasoned, critical, comparative perspectives upon legal questions.
  • present reasoned, critical, comparative responses to the views of others on legal subjects within a Welsh, United Kingdom, European and/or global context;
  • present reasoned, critical, comparative responses to the views of others on legal subjects within a Welsh, United Kingdom, European and/or global context;
  • present to others from a specialist or non-specialist background, reasoned, critical, comparative presentations relating to legal subjects within a Welsh, United Kingdom, European and/or global context;
  • present to others from a specialist or non-specialist background, reasoned, critical, comparative presentations relating to legal subjects within a Welsh, United Kingdom, European and/or global context;
  • Students will acquire critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights, informed by the latest academic literature, legislation and case law.
  • Students will acquire knowledge and understanding of basic principles, advanced level theories and explore the many traditional and contemporary challenges in International Law. They will receive a balanced education in the relevant law, theory, politics and practice.
  • write sustained critical expositions of any given area of the legal subjects studied and present the findings clearly, logically and coherently;
  • Students will also acquire expertise within the particular programme on which they are enrolled. Careful guidance over optional module choices and close supervision of dissertations will ensure that the students fully develop expertise in the area of interest.
  • Students will be taught through a range of methods, balancing theory and practice, and aiming at developing critical thinkers able to respond to the intellectual and professional challenges facing contemporary International Lawyers.
  • Students will develop to become critical thinkers able to respond to the intellectual and professional challenges facing contemporary international lawyers.

Resources

Resource implications for students

Students will be required to purchase a core textbook.

Reading list

Though a reading list currently exists for this module, it hasn't been updated in some years and no longer highlights relevant reading materials to support student learning in line with the way in which this public international law module will be taught from September 2016 onwards (as reflected in this PIP entry). A new reading list is currently being developed and will be entered on Talis in good time and well ahead of the commencement of Semester 1 in 2016/17.

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: