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


  • Criminal Law (LAW 2221).


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To provide students with a critical understanding of both institutional and substantive aspects of international criminal law;
  • To provide an introduction to international criminal law as a branch of of public international law and to consider its sources and relationships with other areas of international law;
  • To develop critical understanding of hte nature, function, successes and weaknesses of several key international and internationalised criminal justice mechanisms;
  • To develop critical understanding of the evolution and current scope of four 'core' international crimes, namely genocide, crimes against humanirty, war crimes and the crime of aggression;
  • To examine the various forms of participation in international crimes and defences to them;
  • To develop critical awareness of the law in its broader social and political as well as international context;
  • To develop an appreciation of the role that international criminal justice can play as part of a broader response to mass atrocity, which may involve other non-judicial accountability mechanisms.


  • Topics covered will generally include:
  • The definition, scope and sources of international criminal law;
  • The nature and function of international institutions that have been created to investigate and prosecute international crimes. These will include the International Military Tribunals for Nuremberg and the Far East (IMTs), the ad hoc International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rawnda (ad hoc tribunals) and the permanent International Criminal Court (ICC);
  • The role that internationalised and domestic criminal courts and non-judicial accountability mechanisms play in responding to the commission of core international crimes;
  • The role of States in the development and enforcment of international criminal law;
  • The evolution, nature and scope of four core international crimes, namely genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and aggression;
  • Forms of participation in international crimes and defences.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students should be able to:
  • Demonstrate detailed knowledge of the institutions that have been established to investigate and prosecute international crimes;
  • Demonstrate detailed knowledge of the law relating to international crimes and aspects of criminal procedure.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students should be able to:
  • Critically evaluate the development of substantive international criminal law and policy;
  • Demonstrate analytical and critical skills in regard to the main tenets of international criminal justice systems;
  • Demonstrate detailed knowledge and understanding of key legal concepts, principles and procedures and the relationships between them;
  • Demonstrate the ability to offer personal and justifiable opinions on the effectiveness of specific laws and the desirability of reform, and to recognise and understand competing arguments for reform.
Key Skills:
  • Students should be able to:
  • Demonstrate developed research and writing skills, including the ability to work independently and to take responsibility for their own learning;
  • Critically evaluate legal rules, policies and principles;
  • Engage in critical reading of legal and academic texts;
  • Present complex ideas in writing;
  • 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 modes of teaching, learning and assessment have been chosen in order to facilitate the achievement of the learning outcomes of the module.
  • Lectures will concentrate on developing knowledge of the subject area.
  • Tutorials will be used to develop critical and analytical skills and depth of understanding of the subject area.
  • The modes of assessment will encourage independent learning and research skills and will examine students' ability to meet the learning outcomes of the module.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 20 Weekly 1 hour 20
Tutorials 4 Normally two in each of Michaelmas and Epiphany 1 hour 4
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:

One 1,500 word essay in Michaelmas Term.

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