SOAS University of London

International Law: Contemporary Issues

  • Overview
  • Structure
  • Teaching and Learning
  • How to Apply


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Mode of Attendance: Full-time


Session 3: 25 July - 12 August 2016

Programme Description 

This course provides students with a basic understanding of international law, focusing on foundational structures that are necessary to engage with any international legal issue. Students are introduced to three sub-disciplines within international law: international humanitarian law of armed conflict, international criminal law and international economic law. Through the study of these three areas of international law students are introduced to a range of contemporary issues that require the application of the foundation rules and structures to develop awareness of both the limitations and potential of international law as a tool for change.

Students will leave the course with capacity to address international legal problems with confidence as well as awareness of specific contemporary issues and how international law is dealing with three specific emergent and on-going concerns: the environment, technology (in particular the use of drones and the development of Lethally Armed Weapon systems) and the use of force outside of the collective security structures.

Students will also take part in a Model Security Council Session after a studying critical engagements with security the model session will allow students to understand the political contingencies and procedural restraints on the transformation of the collective security structures. The class will also watch a film screening of ‘Through Their Eyes: Witnesses to Justice’. The film looks at the role of witness testimonies international criminal law cases. This will encourage students to reflect on the space between survivor accounts and legal narratives, the film screening will be followed by an open debate.

This course is co-taught by Dr Gina Heathcote and Dr Muin Boase



A tuition fee of £1450 will be charged per 3-week programme. This figure does not include accommodation fees.

Application fee

A one-off, non-refundable application fee of £60 will be charged to cover administration costs. Please visit the SOAS online store to make your application fee payment.


An early bird discount of 10% is available if fees are paid by 31 March 2016.
15% discount for SOAS Alumni or if you take a combination of sessions 2 and 3.
20% discount for current SOAS students and our partner institutions.
Other discounts are available for groups, please contact us for further information.


Accommodation is available at an extra fee of £700 for 20 nights. For more details of how to reserve a room please visit our accommodation page.


Students are usually able to obtain credits from their home institution and typically our courses receive 3 credits in the US system and 7.5 ECTS in the European system. If you intend to claim credits from your home institution, please check the requirements with them before you enrol. We will be happy to assist you in any way we can, however please be aware that the decision to award credits rests with your home institution.

Assessment will be optional and will vary for each course. Participants will be provided with a certificate of attendance and transcripts will be available on request.

Social Programme

You will also be able to enjoy our social programme, starting with a welcome party and an optional river cruise on the Thames for a small additional charge. Details about how to book will be communicated to you once you are registered. You will also receive discount codes for day trips and overnight tours with our partner International Friends.


For more information, please fill out our enquiries form


Contact hours: 46 hours (lectures, tutorials, activities). The course will be delivered Monday - Friday over the 3 weeks.

Core hours: Monday - Thursday 10am-3pm, and 2 hours on one specified Friday over the 3 weeks.

Optional hours: In addition to regular lectures and tutorials, each course is composed of a range of 'activities' relating to their academic content (e.g. museum visit, company visit etc). On Fridays, all courses open up one of their activities to all summer school students and these are optional. For example, if you have been studying a Development course, you may choose to join an activity belonging to a Politics, Economics and Environment course. All activities will be staggered throughout the day so that you have a chance to take as many as possible. Please note however that the Friday activity relating to the course you are registered on is compulsory.

Week 1: Foundations of international law

  • Introduction to international law
  • Sources of international law
  • Subjects of international law

Week 2: Contemporary issues

  • Jurisdiction and immunities
  • State responsibility
  • International Criminal Law

Week 3: Emergent Problems

  • Law of armed conflict
  • International economic law
  • Collective Security – the authorisation of force
  • Technology
  • Environment

Assessment: is optional and will be in the form of a 2000-2500 word essay to be handed in 2 weeks after the end of the course.


Teaching and Learning

Teaching & Learning

On successful completion of the course, a student should be able to demonstrate the ability to:

  • Understanding of the foundations of international law, including the sources of international law and the capacity for state responsibility to be realised for breaches of obligations
  • Capacity for critical interrogation of specific regimes within international law, in particular international humanitarian law, international criminal law and collective security structures
  • Ability to reflect and engage with the spaces for transformation of international law to address persistent inequalities within the global order


How to Apply

Entry Requirements

In order to join our Summer School, you will need to meet the following entry requirements:

  • Participants have to be 18 or over at the time of attendance.
  • A minimum English language requirement if English is not your first language:
    • IELTS, 6.5 overall or higher, with at least 6 in all sub scores.
    • TOEFL Paper based test we require a minimum of 583 with minimum 53 in all skills and for TOEFL Internet Based Test we require a minimum of 93 with minimum 20 in all skills. 
    • Pearson Test of English a score of 59-64
    • Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) Grade B
    • If you have studied in an English speaking institution, or have courses taught at your university in English (excluding English language courses) you may meet our requirements without having to supply a certificate. Evidence of this will either need to be included on a transcript or letter from your university.
    • Applicants with an alternative qualification should contact us for advice.
    • Applicants whose English language level do not meet out requirements may be interested in our subject based courses with English language support.

Application Procedure

Once you have paid the £60 application fee and submitted the online application form, you will be informed as to whether you have a place on the summer school within 5 working days. Please do not pay your tuition fee prior to having received your offer letter.

Application Deadline

Session 2 is 15 June

Session 3 is 4 July

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