SOAS University of London

School of Law

Mapping International Law in London - International Legal Geography in the Capital of Empire

Module Code:
Year of study:

This groundbreaking module explores the relationship between international law and materiality, specifically in the context of the geography and history of the city of London in which SOAS is based.

The module begins in the classroom, with an introduction to the cutting-edge, burgeoning literature on the material representation of international law. After developing students' theoretical understanding, the class moves to a series of weekly walking tours at different locations in London. Whilst the locations will vary from year to year, likely sites include memorials, archives, museums, docklands and embassies.

These tours will provide students with the opportunity to experience first-hand the manner in which international law is embedded in the geography and history of London and to explore for themselves how international law exists in the every-day places of the city. Drawing on SOAS scholars' rich research in history, geography, gender studies, and post-colonial theory, the module will deploy an innovative method of teaching that breaks with the lecture hall and, like modern day international legal situationists, encourages students to shape their own learning by mapping how international law is made material in the city of London. 

Students taking this module must also take the half unit Foundations of International Law (15PLAH021) unless:
(i) They have previously taken a module in the general principles of public international law; or
(ii) They have, in the opinion of the module convenor, acquired a satisfactory knowledge of public international law through legal practice or other work experience.


Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of the module, a student will:

  • understand, engage with, and critically analyse the relationship between international law and materiality;
  • demonstrate knowledge of the materiality of international law in London in particular;
  • understand and reflect upon London's geography and history as a capital of both nation and empire;
  • reflect critically on the role played by international law in the development of London's geography and history;
  • carry out independent research into international law and its materiality in London, using library-based and electronic resources.


  • weekly 2 hour session (this could be classroom based or outside)

Method of assessment

  • Coursework: 15% (500 words)
  • Coursework: 85% (3500 words)


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules