Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2022-2023 (archived)


Department: Law


Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2022/23 Module Cap Location Durham


  • Public International Law (LAW2131), OR, at the discretion of the Chair of the Board of Studies or delegate, a suitable module from another Department. The pre-requisite may be taken as a co-requisite.


  • Public International Law (LAW2131), if not already taken, OR, at the discretion of the Chair of the Board of Studies or delegate, a suitable module from another Department.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To gain an in depth understanding of the legal nature and consequences of a range of thematic and specialised regimes of international law
  • To gain a critical understanding of current legal, theoretical and political debates regarding international law and law beyond the state.
  • To enable students to develop their own critical understanding of the international legal order and law beyond the state and to question the traditional narratives of both the history and present form of the international legal order.


  • The module will provide an in depth exploration of the nature and substance of a variety of specialised thematic regimes of international law. There will be a focus on institutions, law and normative frameworks, as well as the political negotiation of each of these regimes in the context of the global order. A selection of topics in the following indicative areas will run in each year:
  • Global Institutions, their structures, interrelationships, governance and reform;
  • Use of force and non-intervention; peace-keeping, International humanitarian law; Counter-terrorism; Peaceful settlement of disputes;
  • International environmental law; Climate change and energy law; Law of the Sea;
  • International economic law;
  • International Criminal Justice; Jus Post Bellum; Transitional Justice;
  • Current Issues of International Law: Contemporary debates and events.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students should be able to demonstrate:
  • Knowledge of the primary institutions and legal frameworks of international law in specialised areas;
  • A familiarity with key academic debates within international law and its thematic regimes.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students should be able to:
  • Analyse and evaluate existing international law in light its social, political, economic and theoretical context.
  • Engage in informed debate concerning current proposals for reform within global governance.
Key Skills:
  • Students should be able to:
  • Develop critical thinking, research, analytical and writing skills, engage in critical reading of legal and academic texts.
  • Make critical judgements on the merits of a range of arguments.

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

  • The course will be taught as a series of twelve two-hour seminars. Students will be expected to engage in pre-session reading and preparation. The reading will be selected to enhance students’ capacity for evaluative critical analysis and to build an appreciation of law’s intersection with broader fields of enquiry. During seminars, students will be encouraged to engage in in-depth discussion and to express and develop their own ideas and perspectives on the seminar topics.
  • Assessment will be through one summatively assessed essay. This paper will develop the students’ ability to produce a substantial piece of written work that evaluates the law in a critical and contextual manner and engages with the academic debates. The formative component will provide detailed feedback and guidance will be given to students.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 12 Normally six in each of Michaelmas and Epiphany 2 hours 24
Preparation and Reading 176
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Summative Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
summative essay 6,000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

1 essay of 1,500 words or other activities such as an oral presentation, debate, poster or other form as assessment as the module convener may choose.

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