SSST Subjects

PS310 International Law and Human Rights


Programme(s) where module is offered

  • Major programme Political Science/International Relations

Status (core, option, free choice)



FHEQ Level



Unit Value



Semester taught



Pre-Requisite Modules or Qualifications

Successful completion of all 1st and 2nd year modules


Module Code

PS 310


Module coordinator

Taida Sarkinovic


Applicable From



Educational Aims of the Module

  • The aim of this module is to acquaint students with the basic concepts and methods used in general international law. It focuses on sources, subjects and sanctions as ways into understanding the theory of international law.
  • The basic principles of international law concerning statehood, criminal jurisdiction, the law of treaties, state responsibility, peaceful settlement of disputes, and the rules on recourse to force will all be covered. Additionally, the module provides a very general introduction into international human rights law.
  • The module aims at imparting substantive knowledge but also necessary skills to the students regarding those important aspects through the examination of theoretical concepts and international practice in the area of international law. It thus offers students lacking previous exposure to international law, the opportunity to obtain a solid grounding in the subject.

Module Outline/Syllabus

  • Course introduction: The distinctive nature of international law

  • The sources of international law; The relations of international and national law

  • States as subjects of international law

  • Other subjects of international law: International organizations, companies, individuals and groups

  • Jurisdiction and immunity from jurisdiction

  • The law of treaties

  • Review week

  • Midterm exam

  • Responsibility in international law

  • Diplomatic and consular relations

  • The law of the sea

  • Use of force and the collective security system; Self-defense; Humanitarian intervention; R2P

  • Peaceful settlement of disputes: The role of ICJ

  • Basic concepts of International Human Rights Law

  • Course review


Student Engagement Hours

Type Number per Term Duration Total Time
Lectures 30 2 hours 60
Tutorials 30 1 hour 30
Total Guided/Independent Learning Hours 110
Total Contact Hours 90
Total Engagement Hours 200

Assessment Method Summary

Type Number Required Duration / Length Weighting Timing / Submission Deadline

Individual written case analysis (case briefing) and oral presentation

1 presentation followed by group discussion

1 hour 10% Ongoing
Mid-term exam 1 2 hours 20% Week 8

Research paper

1 2000 words 20% Week 13
Final Exam 1 3 hours 50% End of semester

Module Outcomes

Intended Learning Outcomes:

  • Critical understanding of basic concepts and principles of general international law.

  • Demonstrate an awareness of how the principles and rules of international law apply at international, regional and state level and awareness of their diversity, origin and application.

  • Articulate on the norms, legal structures and organizations that guide and direct such law.

  • Critical understanding of strengths and weaknesses of international law, understand the causes and form a cohesive argument.

  • Analysis of treaty structure in international law and how different problems are legally approached at international level.

  • Deeper appreciation of the disciplines and competing social imperatives that inter-face with international law, especially the issues of collective security, relationships between states, their diplomatic and consular relations, economic relations, human rights issues and the protection of individuals in international law.

Teaching and Learning Strategy:

  • Lectures provide the core information (ILO: 1-6)

  • Tutorials operate as a platform for group discussion, debate, presentations and case-study analysis. (ILO:3-6)

  • Students will be set assignments which complement the lectures and seminars (ILO:1-6)

  • Group discussions will enable students to express and enhance their understanding of core topics (ILO: 3-6)

  • Individual case-study presentations in class will help students to obtain additional knowledge and receive guidance on specific topics, students will exercise creativity and judgment of design when problem solving (ILO: 3-5)

  • Guided workshop sessions (ILO: 1-6)

Assessment Strategy:

  • Final exam (ILO: 1-6)

  • Mid-term exam (ILO: 1-6)

  • Research paper (ILO: 1-6)

  • Individual case analysis and presentation in class (ILO: 1-6)

Practical Skills:

  • Ability to effectively analyse various types of legal materials relating to international law.

  • Ability to identify and interpret legal resources pertaining to international law and to utilise effective research techniques.

  • Ability to apply various rules of international law to a given set of facts through case studies.

  • Ability to formulate substantiated legal arguments on basic issues concerning international law.

  • Ability to search and use specialised on-line legal resources for research and tracking developments in the area of international law.

Teaching and Learning Strategy:

  • Lectures will provide information on relevant issues in international law. (PS: 1)

  • Set reading lists will direct students to relevant material and they will be guided through independent study. (PS: 2-5)

  • Tutorials operate as a forum for group discussion and debate, and enable in-depth case-study analysis. (PS:1-2)

  • Students will be set assignments which complement lectures and seminars. (PS:1-5)

  • Short presentations in class on previously assigned topics will help students to develop arguments and formulate answers instantly. (PS: 1,2,4)

  • Guided workshop sessions (ILO: 1,2,4,5)

Assessment Strategy:

  • Final exam (PS: 1-5)

  • Mid-term exam (PS: 1-4)

  • Research paper (PS: 1-5)

  • Individual case analysis and oral presentation in class followed by group discussion (PS: 1-5)

Transferable Skills:

  • Presentation and argumentation skills

  • Problem-solving skills

  • Analytical and critical thinking skills

  • Research skills

  • Group work and independent study skills

Teaching and Learning Strategy:

  • Lectures provide the core (practical) knowledge and are complemented by a set reading list which students are expected to study from. (TS: 2-5)

  • Seminars discuss key subjects in greater detail and provide a platform for group exercises and debate.

  • (TS:1-5)

  • Tutors set topical assignments and guide students through independent study. (TS: 1-5)

  • Case study presentations and group discussions in class contribute to improving transferrable skills (TS: 1-5)

  • Guided workshop sessions (TS: 1-5)

Assessment Strategy:

  • Final exam (TS: 1-5)

  • Mid-term exam (TS: 1-5)

  • Research paper (TS: 1-5)

  • Individual case analysis and oral presentation in class followed by group discussion (TS: 1-5)


Key Texts and/or other learning materials

Set text

  • Crawford, J., (2012), Brownlie’s Principles of International Law, 8th Edition, Oxford University Press

  • Shaw, M.N. (2014), International Law, 7th Edition, Cambridge University Press

Supplementary Materials

  • Cassese, A., 2004, International Law, 2nd Edition, Oxford University Press.

  • Klabbers, J., (2013), International Law, Cambridge University Press

  • Brownlie, I., (2008), Basic Documents in International Law, 6th Edition. Oxford University Press

  • Harris, D.J., (2010), Cases and Materials on International Law, 7th ed. London: Sweet & Maxwell.

  • Evans, M., (2014), International Law, 4th Edition, Oxford University Press

  • Dixon, M., (2013), Textbook on International Law, 7th Edition, Oxford University Press

Websites of interest

Please note

This specification provides a concise summary of the main features of the module and the learning outcomes that a typical student might reasonably be expected to achieve and demonstrate if he/she takes full advantage of the learning opportunities that are provided.

More detailed information on the learning outcomes, content and teaching, learning and assessment methods of each module and programme can be found in the departmental or programme handbook.

The accuracy of the information contained in this document is reviewed annually by the University of Buckingham and may be checked by the Quality Assurance Agency.

Date of Production : June 2016

Date approved by School Learning and Teaching Committee:  

Date approved by School Board of Study :  

Date approved by University Learning and Teaching Committee:  

Date of Annual Review:  


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