SOAS University of London

School of Law

International Trade Law

Module Code:
Taught in:
Full Year

This module focuses on the performance by private parties of four fundamental contracts in most cross-border sale of goods transactions: the sales, carriage, payment, and insurance contracts. It examines relevant international legal instruments, laws, rules and principles that directly affect the conclusion and performance of these contracts.

The ITL module therefore examines the private law aspects of international trade. It does not deal with issues relating to WTO, import/export tariffs and licenses, customs and FTA areas. We are here interested in the commercial issues that arise between the contracting parties themselves. Do remember that the public law issues mentioned above also affect the contracting parties but those are outside the remit of this module. 

It is therefore important to keep in mind that this module involves a primary sale of goods transaction for example: Seller in England sells mobile phone handsets made in China to Buyer in South Africa. Seller wants payment for the goods in London while Buyer wants delivery of the handsets to him in Pretoria. This module examines the various contracts involved in this transaction from the very beginning when the sales contract is negotiated to its performance; including payment for the mobile phone handsets, their delivery and insurance.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  • Understand an International Sales Transaction and its elements
  • Understand the rules governing sales and documentary sales under English law
  • Understand the theories and practice of harmonisation of international trade law
  • Understand the rules of the CISG and be familiar with other instruments of harmonisation of trade law
  • Understand the functions of sales, carriage, payment and cargo insurance contracts in international trade
  • Understand the interaction of these four contracts in international trade transactions
  • Apply knowledge of these four contracts in any given factual scenario on international sales transaction

Method of assessment

  • Unseen written exam: 100%

Suggested reading

  • Carr I, International Trade Law, 5th edition, Routledge, 2014.
  • Chuah J, Law of International Trade, 5th edition, Sweet & Maxwell, 2013.
  • Murray C, Holloway D & Timson-Hunt D, Schmitthoff  Export Trade: The Law and Practice of International Trade, 12th edition, Thomson Sweet & Maxwell, 2012.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules