Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2007-2008 (archived)

Module LAW52445: International Law of Title to Territory and Boundaries

Department: Law

LAW52445: International Law of Title to Territory and Boundaries

Type Open Level 4 Credits 45 Availability Available in 2007/08 Module Cap
Tied to M1K216


  • None


  • Fundamentals of International Law (LAW52245)

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • The course aims to provide knowledge with regard to the law relative to title to territory and boundaries in order to acquaint students with the principle problems, issues, features and solutions thereto.


  • This course is intended to cover the law relating to title to territory and the law relating to international boundaries. Since the concept of territory and boundaries is integral to the international State system, the laws relating to the acquisition, disposition and loss of territory are as old as the system itself. Its importance and relevance continues unabated.
  • The course is divided into two broad areas: general principles of law with regard to boundaries, especially land areas; and boundaries and the law relating to maritime spaces and their delimitation.
  • The first session of lectures examines the basic concepts of statehood, sovereignty, title and the various kinds of sovereign and non-sovereign territorial rights prevalent in the international legal order. The course takes the student through the major categories of acquisition and loss of title to territory, the notions of ancient original title, acquiescence and recognition and the rules of law with regard to boundary delimitation in natural geographical features, including rivers, lakes and watershed. certain specific problems in the law of title to territory are then examined. These include the doctrine of non-recognition, State succession with respect to territory and boundaires and self-determination.
  • The second session of lectures are concerned with maritime frontiers namely the legal status and principles of delimitation of the territorial sea, internal waters, the continental shelf and the exclusive economic zone. The law of archipelagic waters and the doctrine of the common heritage of mankind, including the deep sea-bed and ouetr-space are then analysed. Evidence of title and the all important doctrine of finality and continuity of boundary regimes are examined in the closing sessions of the course.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the course students should:
  • have an in-depth knowledge of the substantive rules of the law relating to title to territory and boundaries;
  • have developed a critical understanding of the fundamental problems concerning title to territory and boundaries.
Subject-specific Skills:
Key Skills:

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

    • Lectures are designed to provide a structure for the course and to introduce basic principles and features of the international legal order relevant to territories and boundaries.
    • Seminars provide opportunity for the exploration and discussion of title to territories and boundaries.
    • Written work requires a demonstration of students' analytical, problem-solving and communication skills.

    Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

    Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
    Lectures 18 Weekly 1 18
    Seminars 10 Week-ten days or so 2 20
    Preparation and Reading 404
    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:

    Two assignments (one optional) of approximately 2,000 words

    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