Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2019-2020 (archived)

Module LAW43830: Fundamental Issues in International Legal Governance

Department: Law

LAW43830: Fundamental Issues in International Legal Governance

Type Open Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Not available in 2019/20 Module Cap None.


  • None


  • • Fundamental Issues in International Legal Governance

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • This module aims to provide students with an understanding and knowledge of the range of legal systems and issues which make up the contemporary global governance order. The module also aims to enable students to draw together the various substantive questions concerning the history and theory of international law, international economic law, international dispute resolution, international humanitarian and human rights law and international peace and security, amongst other topics which will be covered over the rest of the programme. The module will raise the student's awareness of to the conceptual and critical aspects of the international, transnational, trans-civilisational, regional and domestic legal questions central to the contemporary global legal infrastructure.


  • A selection of topics in the following indicative areas will run in each year:
  • Law-Making Processes: Consent and Normativity
  • The form and authority of international law: treaties, custom, judicial decisions and other sources of law
  • Participants in the International Legal System: States, International Organisations, non-State actors and individuals
  • Responsibility and Accountability in a decentralised legal order: contemporary challenges
  • International Law and its Others: post-colonial, feminist, and Critical challenges
  • Defining Global Governance
  • Interaction between Law and Governance
  • Contemporary Issues at the UN/World Bank/IMF/WTO
  • Historical Evolution of the Global Legal Order
  • Reform of the International Legal Order
  • Constitutionalisation
  • Fragmentation
  • Global Legal Pluralism
  • Global Administrative Law

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students will have:
  • A thorough knowledge of the fundamental principles underlying global legal governance (consent, legal personality, sovereignty, responsibility and accountability, for example);
  • A demonstrably in-depth knowledge of certain key aspects of the contemporary debates on international law and governance and its relationship with wider issues in international law (concerning, for example, global constitutionalism);
  • A familiarity with the interaction between the variety of legal orders and the substantive law which underpins their operation;
  • An understanding of the relationship between the theory and the practice of international legal governance.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students should be able to:
  • interpret and evaluate critically relevant documents within global governance and identify the theoretical and critical approaches informing their interpretation;
  • appreciate and articulate the relationship between international law and politics, and between international law and history;
  • identify key themes in current debates about the nature and practice of international law and governance;
  • demonstrate the ability to compare and contrast theoretical approaches to international law and governance;
  • synthesize and critically analyse core issues associated with international legal governance.
Key Skills:
  • demonstrate an ability to understand and analyse critically a wide variety of complex issues relating to international legal governance, drawing on a variety of materials;
  • develop expertise relating to international legal governance in conducting legal research using materials from a variety of national, regional and international sources;
  • describe accurately and coherently the arguments and analysis of academic commentators on international legal governance;
  • formulate ideas and arguments on international legal governance in a clear, structured and scholarly manner;
  • demonstrate an ability to explore complex issues creatively in writing on matters relating to international legal governance.
  • interpret, critically analyse, and synthesise legal materials and literature relevant to international legal governance.

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

  • The course will be taught through 8 two-hour seminars in the second term. Each seminar will cover a substantive topic and will be based on set reading to be prepared prior to the seminar. During each seminar students will work through a set of questions which they will have been asked to prepare in advance. Reading lists, which will provide the material to be used in answer the seminar questions, will be distributed two weeks in advance of each seminar.
  • Feedback to be provided on formative and summative assessment in accordance with Law School feedback policies.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 8 Weekly 2 hours 16
Preparation & Reading 134
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Summative Assessment Component Weighting: %
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 3,000 words 100% Essay 3,000

Formative Assessment:

Essay, 1,500 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