SOAS University of London

School of Law

International Criminal Law

Module Code:
Taught in:
Term 2

This subject will provide a comprehensive overview of the emerging discipline of international criminal law. The discipline will be approached historically, theoretically, and critically. First, the module will examine the historical origins of the fundamental principle of international criminal law – individual criminal responsibility – and trace the evolution of the international criminal tribunals that apply that principle. Second, the module will explain the core theoretical assumptions of the subject, focusing in particular on the rationales for punishment (retribution, creating a historical record, promoting peace and reconciliation, etc.) and for the creation and operation of international criminal tribunals. Third, the module will take a critical look at the discipline’s core theoretical assumptions, asking whether alternatives to international trials might better achieve the discipline’s stated goals.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

This subject will focus on individual accountability for war crimes, crimes against humanity and acts of genocide, including both the substantive law providing for such responsibility and the range of mechanisms available for holding individuals accountable.

A student who has successfully completed this subject will have advanced and integrated understanding of the body of knowledge associated with international criminal law. In particular, the student will:

  • Understand the concept of individual criminal responsibility for international crimes.
  • Understand the structure and theoretical assumptions of the core international crimes, as well as important modes of participation, such as command responsibility.
  • Understand the historical development of international criminal law.
  • Recognise the relationship between national and international jurisdiction for the prosecutions of international crimes.
  • Comprehend the basic workings of the permanent International Criminal Court.

Method of assessment

  • Coursework: 100% (4000 words)

Suggested reading

  • Cassese et al, Cassese’s International Criminal Law (Oxford University Press: 2013)
  • Cryer et al, An introduction to international criminal law and procedure (Cambridge University Press: 2010)
  • Schbas, An introduction to the International Criminal Court (Cambridge University Press: 2011)
  • Sliedregt, Individual criminal responsibility in international law (Oxford University Press: 2012)
  • Stahn et al, The emerging practice of the International Criminal Court (M Nijhoff: 2009)


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules