Module SXL-3145:
Public International Law

Module Facts

Run by School of Law

10 Credits or 5 ECTS Credits

Overall aims and purpose

The aim of this module is to provide undergraduate students with a broad and solid introduction to the area of Public International Law. This builds on what they have learned in earlier year(s) of their LLB studies. They will receive grounding in central concepts of Public International Law, with particular focus on the history, theory, politics and practice.

Course content

Students will begin with some of the fundamental principles of Public International Law. These will include the nature of international law and how it relates to domestic legal systems, international legal personality including Statehood and the human person in the international system, sources of international law including treaty law, and the law of responsibility. On grasping these core principles students will be well placed to move forward to more sophisticated examination of international law. These will include the law on the use of force, an examination of the role of international courts and tribunals, and key contemporary issues in Public International Law.

Assessment Criteria


An answer which, while predominantly correct in its presentation of material, contains a significant level of error and is therefore not entirely reliable.


An outstanding, possibly brilliant, answer, containing all the material relevant to the question and no irrelevancy, all the material and references being accurate and correct, there being no inaccuracy or error, the whole presented in a clear, logical, critical argument with little room for improvement. An answer which demonstrates a complete mastery of the subject.


A comprehensive answer, containing all the material relevant to the question and no irrelevancy, all the material and references being accurate and correct, there being no inaccuracy or error, the whole presented in an argument which, while clear, logical and critical, leaves room for improvement in its construction and presentation. An answer which shows complete competence in the subject.

Learning outcomes

  1. Assess the viability of competing theories about international law.

  2. Appreciate and critically evaluate the key principles governing the use of force in international law.

  3. Apply detailed knowledge of substantive International Law to complex actual or hypothetical factual scenarios.

  4. Appreciate and critically evaluate the key bodies for resolving disputes in public international law such as the International Court of Justice.

  5. Appreciate and critically evaluate the key principles governing the use of force in international law.

  6. Appreciate and critically evaluate international law principles relating to jurisdiction and immunity and domestic UK law relating to immunity.

  7. Demonstrate a critical understanding of fundamental principles of Public International Law including international legal personality, statehood and recognition.

  8. Demonstrate a broad and critical appreciation of the history, theory, politics and practice of International Law.

  9. Critically evaluate the key sources of international law and how these apply within the UK domestic legal system.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Written Assignment 100

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Private study 78

11 x 2-hour lectures over the course of one semester.


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.
  • 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

  • Develop the ability to interpret legal rules and employ techniques of legal reasoning competently and efficiently in order to offer a range of solutions and conclusions to actual or hypothetical complex legal problems, all supported by relevant academic literature, jurisprudence and legislative research. Such solutions will be clearly communicated and presented
  • Develop the ability to analyse complex legal issues, set against the background of the political, social, economic or cultural contexts in which they may arise
  • Develop those skills which are necessary for scholarship and research in legal subjects, namely the ability to identify relevant primary and secondary legal sources and to retrieve accurate legal information using paper and electronic sources
  1. The ability to read and discuss lengthy legal materials which are written in technical and complex language, and the ability to acquire by independent, individual research, understanding of the principles and details involved in the subject area, and the ability to communicate that understanding and evaluation, orally and in writing, in lucid language – in English and/or Welsh.
  2. The ability to apply the knowledge gained and comprehended in order to resolve factual situations analytically and critically, either in individual study or in group discussion situations.
  3. The ability to utilize and employ sources of information in printed and electronic form in order to foster relevant individual research knowledge of the subject.
  4. The ability to employ IT skills to produce word-processed written work and to use electronic information databases and information retrieval systems.
  5. The ability to work in groups as a participant who contributes effectively to the achievement of the group’s task, and who can discuss with others the principles and details of the subject, and apply them in a reasoned, critical and efficient manner.
  6. The ability to organise personal study time to achieve the above goals.


Resource implications for students

Students may choose to purchase a text book, at the cost of £30 new or cheaper second hand/

Reading list

Core text: • Ademola Abass, International Law: Text, Cases and Materials (2nd ed, Oxford University Press 2014)

Supplementary Public International Law texts: • Ian Brownlie, Principles of Public International Law (8th ed, Oxford University Press 2012) • Malcolm Shaw, International Law (7th ed, Cambridge University Press 2014) • Malcolm D. Evans (ed.), International Law (4th ed, Oxford University Press 2014)

Courses including this module

Optional in courses: