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2024/25 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

LAW5146M International Criminal Law

15 creditsClass Size: 60

Module manager: Dr Cristina Saenz Perez

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2024/25

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.

Learning outcomes
On successful completion of the module students will have demonstrated the following learning outcomes relevant to the subject:
1. A critical understanding of the evolution of international criminal law since the Nuremberg trials until the establishment of the ICC.
2. A good knowledge of the substantive rules governing the prosecution of substantive crimes internationally (i.e. war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and aggression).
3. An understanding of the possibilities and limitations of domestic prosecution of international crimes.
4. A critical understanding of the current debates surrounding the effectiveness and biases that characterise international criminal law.
5. A good command of the skills necessary to write a blogpost discussing current issues in international criminal law.

Skills Learning Outcomes
On successful completion of the module students will have demonstrated the following skills learning outcomes:
1. Critical thinking: ability to weigh up different arguments in the field of international criminal law, using supporting evidence to form opinions and arguments, both orally and in writing.
2. Academic writing: the ability to write in a clear and concise manner arguments that are supported by relevant evidence. This should be reflected in the final blogpost used to assess this module.
3. Problem solving & analytical skills: the ability to take a logical approach to solving problems, such as international criminal scenarios provided in the seminar sheets.


Details of the syllabus will be provided on the Minerva organisation (or equivalent) for the module

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours135.00
Total Contact hours15.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

A formal formative assessment opportunity will be provided, which is specifically pedagogically aligned to the summative assessment task. As part of this, each student will receive individual feedback designed to support the development of knowledge and skills that will be later assessed in the summative assessment.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
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: 27/03/2024


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