Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2019-2020 (archived)

Module LAW43930: Global Institutions

Department: Law

LAW43930: Global Institutions

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Not available in 2019/20 Module Cap None.


  • None


  • Fundamental Issues in International Legal Governance

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To develop an understanding of the law of international and regional institutions and their interaction with other institutions in the global legal order. The first half of the course focuses on the historical evolution of international institutions, their variety and the defining attributes of both governmental and non-governmental attributes. The second half of the course focuses on substantive questions regarding immunity, membership, legal personality, dissolution and institutional interaction with substantive international law. The topic allows for the consideration of public international from a number of different perspectives. In particular, this raises questions of functional regimes within international law, or international law and its fragmentaion. The course aims to provide both knowledge of the specific area of the law of institutions, and a greater understanding of international law by focusing on this specialised regime.


  • A selection of topics in the following indicative areas will run in each year:
  • History of International Institutions
  • Theories behind global institutions
  • Defining governemntal and non-governmental institutions
  • The relationship between international institutions and public international law
  • Legal personality
  • Powers of International Organisations
  • Law-Making by International Organisations
  • Membership
  • Accountability of International Organisations
  • Legitimacy of International Organisations
  • Multilateral decision-making and the role of International Organisations
  • Decision-making and procedural issues
  • Dispute resolution
  • Dissolution and Succession
  • Responsibility
  • United Nations
  • Economic institutions; World Bank/IMF/WTO
  • Non-Governmental Institutions and Corporations
  • Regional institutions
  • Reform of global institutions
  • Economic Development and International Organisations
  • International Trade and Finance and International Organisations
  • Social Justice, Human Rights, Global Poverty and International Organisations
  • Protection of the Environment and International Organisation
  • Armed Conflict, Security and International Organisations
  • Regional Intregration Organisations
  • Solidarity, Cooperation and Coexistence: International Organisations and the Common Interest

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students will have:
  • A thorough knowledge of the fundamental principles of international institutional law;
  • A demonstrably in-depth knowledge of certain key aspects of the international institutional law and its relationship with wider issues in international law;
  • A familarity with the contemporary issues regarding global institutions, and their development
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students should be able to:
  • interpret and evaluate critically relevant documents within international institutional law and identify the theoretical and critical approaches informing their interpretation;
  • appreciate how institutional law interacts with global institutions, governmental and non-governmental law as well as substantive international law
  • identify key issues within international institutional law, and international law more generally, such as the interaction between and amongst institutions and their reform
Key Skills:
  • Students should be able to:
  • demonstrate an ability to understand and analyse critcially a wide variety of complex issues, drawing on a variety of materials;
  • develop expertise in conducting legal research using materials from a variety of national and international sources;
  • describe accurately and coherently the arguments and analysis of academic commentators;
  • write in a clear and structured way and to put forward ideas in a scholarly manner;
  • and demonstrate an ability to explore creatively complex issues in writing.

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

  • The courses will be taught through a series of lectures and seminars. Each term will consist of three two-hour lectures and four two hour seminars. The lectures will be used to introduce students to the topics covered and to introduce them to the the course while the seminars will allow for in-depth discussion of the issues to be discussed.
  • The course will finish with a two-hour discussion of themes and contemporary issues regarding global institutions.
  • The course will be assess by a formative essay of 2,000 words in the first term and a summative essay at the end of the course, both of which will display their substantive knowledge and analytical skills. The formative and summative papers, based on student choice of a number of topics, will ensure that students have met the research, analysis, and communication objectives of the module.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 8 First two weeks of Michaelmas, three of Epiphany 2 hours 14
Seminars 10 Fortnightly 2 hours 16
Preparation and Reading 270
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Summative Essays Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Summative Essay 5,000 words 100% same weighting and word length, different question

Formative Assessment:

One 2,000- word essay

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