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School of Law

Colonialism, empire and international law

Course Code:
15PLAH025
Unit value:
0.5
Taught in:
Term 1

Please note this course is not running in 2011/12

This course is designed to complement other courses offered within the international law subject grouping. The course aims to explore historical and contemporary dimensions of the relationship between international law and colonialism. 

In the first term, we will consider the historical mappings of the colonial endeavour within international law as well as theoretical debates concerning colonialism, post-colonialism and neo-colonialism. 

In the second and third terms, we will focus on a variety of contemporary international law issues – e.g., statehood and recognition; self-determination of peoples; failed states; administration of territory; violence and poverty - in light of the historical and theoretical 16 perspectives introduced in term 1. 

In addition to participating in the seminar programme, students will be required to undertake an independent research project on a chosen aspect of the relationship between international law and colonialism.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

By the end of this course students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge and awareness of the history of international law in the 19th and 20th Century particularly as it relates to the non-European world
  • Engage in critical legal analysis of the theory and practice of international law and show awareness of the relationship between international legal discourse and post-colonial theory
  • Reflect critically upon the historic role of international law in promoting and resisting colonialism and neo-colonialism
  • Carry out independent research in the field of international law using both library-based and electronic resources

Method of assessment

Assessment weighting: 90% coursework (one essay of 5,000 words), 10% assessed student research conference.