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2020/21 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

LAW5146M International Criminal Law

15 creditsClass Size: 30

Module manager: Prof Dr Elies van Sliedregt

Taught: 1 Jan to 31 May View Timetable

Year running 2020/21

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

The course looks at the rules, concepts, principles, institutional architecture, and enforcement of what we call international criminal law or international criminal justice. The focus of the course is the area of international criminal law concerned with the so-called core crimes: war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and aggression. It adopts a historical, philosophical and practical focus throughout, though the course is mainly directed at the conceptual problems associated with the prosecution of war criminals and, more broadly, legalised retribution. Attention, in this respect, will be directed towards the dilemmas associated with bureaucratic criminality and individual culpability.


The objective of this course is to provide students with knowledge and understanding of the institutional, substantive, and procedural aspects of international criminal law. Students will learn about legal issues that lie at the heart of the international criminal justice system and about the challenges faced by international criminal tribunals. Students will also learn about the political context in which these courts function. Especially in a post-globalisation world where nationalism and regionalism gain traction at the cost of universalism, international criminal justice mechanisms have increasingly come under fire. Students will gain insight into these developments and will be able to engage with critique of international criminal justice and the international legal order more broadly.


The topics that will be covered in this course include:
The history of international criminal justice
The Institutional structure of the ad hoc tribunals for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and Rwanda (ICTR)
The International Criminal Court (ICC), and the "mixed Tribunals"
Sources of international criminal law
Substantive law: elements of crimes, criminal responsibility of (military and civilian) superiors, grounds for excluding liability
International criminal procedure: phases of international criminal procedure, evidentiary rules, fact-finding impediments, fair trial principles, in absentia trials
Prosecution of international crimes before national courts
Concurrence of jurisdiction between states and international criminal courts and tribunals
Victims in international criminal procedure

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours128.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Private study

Students are expected to allocate additional 4 hours per week to (i) prepare for the seminar, (ii) for the essay and (iii) for a case-study they will work on in teams. (4 x 7 weeks = 28 hrs)

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Written Work3 x 1000 word blog posts/OpEds100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 10/08/2020 09:50:04


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