SOAS University of London

School of Law

Multinational Enterprises and the Law

Module Code:

This module represents a comprehensive analysis of the major legal problems raised by the operations of multinational enterprises (MNEs), studied in their commercial, economic and political contexts.

The module deals with all the main commercial issues created by the cross-border activities of MNEs, with attention also to the social dimension of MNE action in relation to labour, human rights, environment and corporate social responsibility.

The module is not based on a single model of the MNE but, rather, examines the organisational diversity of MNEs in relation to the principal policy and regulatory questions involved in their operations. Furthermore, the module reflects the regulatory choices open to policy makers (in both home and host countries) in that relevant legal standards and procedures occur both at the sub-national, national, regional and multilateral levels. Thus the material for the module is drawn from national, regional and international sources.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  • To provide a comprehensive, interdisciplinary, study of the business and legal organisation of Multinational Enterprises (MNEs) and of the regulation of their activities;
  • To do so in relation to both the principal commercial and social issues raised by their operations;
  • To examine the regulatory environment for international business by dealing with sub-national, national, regional and multilateral policies and rules for the regulation of MNEs;
  • A detailed grounding in the legal and regulatory problems created by the operations of MNEs;
  • A critical understanding of these problems in the light of competing theories and ideologies of economic and social globalisation and its regulation;
  • An understanding of the nature and development of MNE organisation and to view this as an evolving and changing process;
  • Knowledge of the effects of MNE operations on home and host economies and a capacity to explain the principal regulatory issues that emerge from such operations and how, in practice, these have been dealt with;
  • A consciousness of the inter-relationship between different levels of MNE regulation at the sub-national, national, regional and multilateral levels.


  • Weekly 2 hour lecture

Method of assessment

  • Coursework: 50% (4000 words)
  • Unseen written examination 50%

Suggested reading

  • Peter T Muchlinski, Multinational Enterprises and the Law, (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2nd Ed, 2007)
  • Peter Muchlinski “Sovereignty and Private Corporate Power: the Case of Multinational Enterprises” in Richard Rawlings Peter Leyland and Alison L Young Sovereignty in Question, (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2013)
  • Grazia Ietto-Gilles Transnational Corporations and International Production, (Cheltenham, Edward Elgar, 2nd ed, 2012)
  • Janet Dine, Companies, International Trade and Human Rights, (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2005
  • Janet Dine and Marios Koutsias The Nature of Corporate Governance: the significance of national cultural identity, (Cheltenham, Edward Elgar, 2013)


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules