Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2022-2023 (archived)


Department: Law


Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2022/23 Module Cap Location Durham


  • Introduction to English Law and Legal Method (LAW 1121) (at the discretion of the Chair of the Board of Studies or delegate, a suitable module from another Department may be substituted for the Law pre-requisite(s)).


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To introduce students to the main features of the international legal system and the basic legal principles that govern public international law, including the relationships between States, individuals, international organisations, corporations and other legal entities recognised by international law.
  • To familiarize students with the main techniques of research and analysis in public international law, and the methodology required to comment upon international legal issues.
  • To encourage students to consider the current legal rules in their historical context, and to consider how and why legal rules have been modified to accord with changes in the international legal society.
  • To ensure students understand the differences between the international legal system and the national legal system studied in other law subjects.
  • To encourage students to develop an interest in current topics of interest in public international law, and to identify and discuss the legal issues raised.
  • To provide students with a solid basis for further learning in, or exposure to, public international law.
  • To provide students with the opportunity to develop organisational and communication skills, including the ability to work as part of a group to produce a group presentation.


  • Nature of the international Legal System
  • Sources of International Law
  • Law of Treaties
  • Participants in the International Legal System (international legal personality, statehood and recognition),
  • Relationship between International law and National law.
  • Jurisdiction
  • Immunities from Jurisdiction
  • State Responsibility.
  • Theory of International Law
  • Other selected issues in International Law

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students should be able to:
  • Demonstrate an awareness of the sources of public international law, how those sources are created, the relationship between the various sources and how those sources are utilized by international lawyers.
  • Demonstrate a sound understanding of the basic principles of public international law
  • Demonstrate a basic understanding of how international legal principles are implemented into, and interact, with domestic law.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students should be able to:
  • Apply the existing law to given factual scenarios and advise accordingly.
  • Analyse and evaluate the existing law in the light of its historical development and current legal, social, political moral pressures.
  • Apply their knowledge to current events impacting upon the development and practice of public international law.
Key Skills:
  • Students should be able to demonstrate:
  • developed analytical and writing skills
  • the ability to work independently
  • the ability to locate and evaluate relevant sources beyond those provided.

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

  • Lectures are used primarily to impart knowledge - and also to suggest approaches to evaluation and critical analysis; Students will be assisted in their application of their subject knowledge to specific factual scenarios through two problem-solving lectures, which will demonstrate problem solving techniques in public international law.
  • Tutorials will be used to develop and enhance students' capacity for legal-problem solving in a particular factual situation, evaluative critical analysis and their appreciation of laws' linkage with broader fields of enquiry;
  • Assignments (formative) are used both to develop problem-solving skills, the ability to engage in sustained evaluation of proposed schemes of reforms, and the ability to evaluate the law in a critical and contextual way.
  • Whilst students are expected to work independently on the formative essays, and in groups for the group presentation, they will also be provided with a basic lecture framework on the allocated topic and a detailed reading list as a starting point.
  • Students will be given formative feedback on their essays and presentation in order to assist with preparation for examinations. Marking criteria will be made available to students prior to submission of essays.
  • Students will be supported and encouraged in the development of their research and writing skills.Students will be supported in the development of their research and writing skills by the provision of guidance on identifying and retrieving relevant sources.
  • Students will have the opportunity to participate in on-line DUO discussion pages, which are intended to support students in their application of their skills to current international law issues. A discussion page will also be created for revision questions prior to the examinations
  • Module staff will provide ongoing support and guidance as appropriate.
  • Summative assessment comprises one unseen examination. The examination tests the ability to focus on relevant legal issues and organise knowledge and argument appropriate to questions raised. The examination questions will provide the means for students to demonstrate the acquisition of subject knowledge and the development of their problem-solving skills.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 20 Weekly 1 hour 20
Tutorials 5 Normally: two in Michaelmas, three in Epiphany 1 hour 5
Preparation and Reading 175
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written examination 3 hours 100% yes

Formative Assessment:

Two essays, one in Michaelmas Term, one in Epiphany Term - word limit, 2000 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