SOAS University of London

School of Law

International Refugee and Migration Law

Module Code:
Taught in:
Term 1

The module will provide an in-depth introduction to international refugee and migration law. It covers key areas forming part of the broader field of what has been referred to as international migration law. This includes core concepts, such as sovereignty, nationality and statelessness; international refugee law, including its regional dimensions; trafficking and smuggling; the rights of migrants, with a particular focus on migrant workers; and broader questions of global refugee and migration law and policy. The module builds on a range of theoretical perspectives that enable students to critically interrogate the genesis of, and current developments in international refugee and migration law. Students will engage with case law and policy documents, as well as key academic texts to acquire both sound knowledge of the law and critical awareness of the biases, gaps and challenges in the current system.

The module locates the subject matter in systemic tensions between sovereignty and global migration. It focuses particularly on the ambivalent role of globalisation processes, including increasing securitisation resulting from the convergence of immigration control and security rationales, often driven by profit interests of commerical actors operating in the field. In this context, it explores whether, and to what extent international human rights law can provide adequate protection, and examines alternatives to the current system of refugee and migration law.


This module is not open to all students. Non-law students attending the module must have either attended the School of Law module Preliminary Law, Legal Reasoning and Legal Methods or provide satisfactory evidence of equivalent legal background. Module enrolment for non-law students requires the convenor's approval

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  • demonstrate knowledge and awareness of the various sources, institutions and procedures in the field of international refugee and migration law
  • critically appraise the theoretical debates in the field
  • engage in critical legal analysis of the practice of judicial and other institutions
  • critically reflect on the role of the law in shaping the experiences of migrants and asylum seekers, including the protection of their rights
  • carry out independent research in the field of refugee and migration law and policy using both library-based and electronic resources.


  • Weekly 2 hour lecture

Method of assessment

  • Coursework: 100% (4000 words)

Suggested reading

  • Efrat Arbel, Catherine Dauvergne and Jenni Millbank (eds.), Gender in Refugee Law: From the Margins to the Centre (Routledge, 2014)
  • Vincent Chetail and Celine Bauloz (eds.), Research Handbook on International Law and Migration (Edward Elgar, 2014)
  • B.S. Chimni (ed.), International Refugee Law: A Reader (Sage, 2000)
  • Catherine Dauvergne, Making People Illegal: What Globalization Means for Migration and Law (Cambridge University Press, 2008)


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules