Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2007-2008 (archived)

Module LAW40330: International Criminal Law

Department: Law

LAW40330: International Criminal Law

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2007/08
Tied to M1K216 & M1K416


  • None


  • Fundamentals of International Law (LAW52245) or exemption.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • This module is directed towards students reading for the LLM degree and will be available to students on the LLM in International Legal Studies and the LLM in Human Rights programmes. It is intended to build upon an exisiting understanding of the international legal system, by considering at an advanced level how accountability for gross violations of human rights may be attained.
  • It aims to introduce students to the system of international criminal law, including the nature and substantive elements of international crimes, related legal principles - such as fair trial and due process standards - and the rights of victims within that process, establishing liability, available defences, and the mechanisms of investigation, trial and punishment. The module will also evaluate the existing mechanisms for the prosecution of international crimes, including the International Criminal Court, the International Criminal Courts for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and hybrid models.
  • It further aims to extensively consider important issues facing the international criminal law system, in particluar immunities, amnesties, impunities and the interaction between international criminal law and domestic legal systems.
  • It is also intended to explore the relationship between international criminal law (which focusus on rights of the accused) and international human rights (which focuses on rights of victims). The module will illustrate how the two areas are governed by the same principles and how developments in one area influence and shape developments in the other.


  • The module studies the system of international criminal law, its development and the legal principles that underpin it. The module commences by considering the nature of international and transnational crimes, and the role of international criminal law within the international legal system. The module then examines the substantive elements of the major international crimes in depth, including principles of liability and available defences.
  • The module also analyses the available mechanisms for the prosecution of international crimes, including the International Criminal Court, and, in light of the recent developments in Iraq and elsewhere, other possible mechanisms. This analysis will also highlight the procedures applied by the varying mechanisms, including fair process and fair trial standards, and the principles relating to investigation, trial and punishment.
  • The course cocludes by previewing some of the current issues in international criminal law, in particular the debate regarding amnesties, impunity and immunity in international law.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Identify and discuss the theories and concepts underlying the international criminal law system.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the historical and continued development of the system, and its social context.
  • Analyse the legal principles underpinning the system.
  • Identify, utilize and evaluate the available mechanisms for the prosecution of international crimes.
  • Identify and analyse issues raised by the prosecution of international crimes.
  • Demonstrate an appreciation of the poltical and practical forces influencing the development of international criminal law.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Relate their theoretical knowledge of international criminal law to current situations involving the international criminal law system.
  • Demonstrate the ability to undertake advanced and independent legal research using a variety of resources, including on-line resources.
  • Utilize this research material to support and develop their analysis and critique of legal principles and institutions.
Key Skills:

    Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

    • The Teaching and Learning will take place by means of seminars only, this reflecting the advanced nature of the module. The use of seminars aims at building upon preliminary reading to cover the theory, development and substance of the international criminal law system in a logical and analytical manner, while encouraging students to participate in group discussion and exercises to develop their problem-solving and verbal communication skills.
    • The summative assessment will be a combination of a written examination and an essay. Formative assessment will utilize the e-learning environment of DUO using moderated discussion groups and online revision, including short answer and multiple choice questions. It will also provide students with the opportunity to submit one piece of formative written work so that feedback can be provided on students' progress in achieving the learning outcomes prior to the submission of summative assessment.
    • The Teaching, Learning and Assessment methods proposed are in constructive alignment with the Learning Outcomes. The seminars will build upon the background reading to cover the theory required, while providing an opportunity for students to apply the principles to particular problems. The formative assessment will continuously evaluate the knowledge gained and the students' ability to utilize the material as as to respond to legal problems. The use of diverse summative assessment methods enables students to demonstrate achievement of the Learning Outcomes within two different assessment environments. The summative essay will enable students to independently research and analyse a particular topic, thus providing a mechanism to satisfy several Learning Outcomes.

    Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

    Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
    Seminars 15 Approx 1 per fortnight 2 30
    Preparation and Reading 270
    Total 300

    Summative Assessment

    Component: Written unseen exam Component Weighting: 75%
    Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
    Essay question 33%
    Problem question 33%
    Essay / Problem question 33%
    Component: Assessed Essay Component Weighting: 25%
    Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
    Essay 100%

    Formative Assessment:

    Optional essay or problem question. E-learning environment in DUO - online revision tests and participation in moderated online discussions.

    Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University