Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2007-2008 (archived)

Module LAW52245: Fundamentals of International Law

Department: Law

LAW52245: Fundamentals of International Law

Type Open Level 4 Credits 45 Availability Available in 2007/08 Module Cap
Tied to


  • None


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • The aim of this course is to provide an overview view of the fundamental principles of public international law. The course aims to provide a platform for further study of, or research into, the more specialized aspects of public international law. The course will be taught in such a way that it will enable students to acquire a proper grounding in the basic principles, features and institutions of the international legal system, and provide an opportunity to explore more advanced problems concerning these basic principles and features.


  • the nature of the International Legal System;
  • Sources of International Law;
  • the Law of Treaties;
  • Participants in the International Legal System: International legal Personality, Statehood and Recognition;
  • Settlement of International Disputes;
  • Use of Force;
  • Collective Measures under the UN Charter;
  • Jurisdiction;
  • State Responsibility;
  • Community Interests in International Law;
  • Enforcement of International Law;
  • Self Determination;
  • the Relationship between International Law and Domestic Law.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of this course students should:
  • have an understanding of the structure, features and fundamental characteristics of the international legal system;
  • have an understanding of the role international law plays in the ordering of international society;
  • be able to explain the way in which rules and principles of international law are made and develop;
  • be able to identify the key participants in the international legal system and be able to explain the status and the roles that these participants play within that system;
  • be able to recognise international legal problems and be able to construct arguments as to how these problems may be resolved;
  • be able to demonstrate knowledge of the methods by which international law is implemented.
Subject-specific Skills:
Key Skills:

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

    • These objectives are to be met through:
    • lectures designed to provide a structure for the course and to introduce basic principles and features of the international legal system;
    • seminars which will provide opportunity for the exploration and discussion of more complex issues and ideas;
    • written work which requires a demonstration of students' analytical, problem-solving and communication skills.

    Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

    Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
    Lectures 20 3 per week (mainly first term) 1 20
    Seminars 12 Weekly (mainly first term) 2 24
    Preparation and Reading 406
    Total 450

    Summative Assessment

    Component: Essay Component Weighting: 25%
    Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
    Essay 4,000 word 100%
    Component: Unseen Examination Component Weighting: 75%
    Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
    Unseen Examination 3 hours 100%

    Formative Assessment:

    One assignment of approximately 2000 words in Michaelmas Term.

    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