International Investment Law

Key information

Start date
End date
Term 1
Module code
FHEQ Level
School of Law

Module overview

International investment Law and dispute settlement is a growing area of the law. The increase in the numbers of bilateral investment treaties (BITs); the inclusion of investment chapters in Regional Trade Agreements (RTAs); the growth in South-South investments; and the increase in the numbers of investment disputes, make this an important field of study and legal practice. International investment law raises very fundamental questions such as the constraint on the regulatory powers of the state; legitimate expectations of investors and their investments as businesses for profit; investment protections and substantive provisions of investment treaties and laws; the judicialisation of arbitration and its decision makers; the balance between attraction of investments and sustainable development of states; and the impact of these issues on the citizens of states. Most international investment law and dispute resolution courses interrogate the issues arising from this field primarily from the perspective of capital exporting states and foreign investors. It is important in addition, to interrogate the same issues from the perspective of capital importing states, and the citizens of these states who are impacted by the activities of investors, actions of their states and investment awards.  

Our module therefore examines the nature of international investment and its legal regimes; the impact of foreign and domestic investment on the economic development of states; the protections afforded investors and their interpretations, the role of states and the impact of investment law on their regulatory powers; and the ICSID dispute resolution mechanism for investment related disputes between foreign investors and states.

We aim to equip our students with a clear understanding of these issues and the ability to critically engage with these issues from a legal perspective and particularly as it relates to developing and capital importing states. There is a total of ten seminars during which we cover the evolution of international investment law, the concept of property and state responsibility, investment treaties, agreements and state contracts, jurisdictional issues, standards of investment protection, ICSID arbitration and the future of investment law and arbitration.

Students engage with these issues from the study of particular investment treaties relevant to their home jurisdictions or jurisdictions of interest to them which they choose themselves and contribute from in class discussions. We encourage active student participation (for which they are rewarded as part of our summative assessment). We therefore do not use one textbook for our module but refer to investment treaties, conventions, laws, arbitral awards, court decisions, published commentaries and textbooks, as relevant to our discussion. 

The module is taught on our postgraduate LLM and MA in International Law programmes by Emilia Onyema (academic and independent arbitrator), Baiju Vasani (SOAS Senior Fellow and arbitrator/counsel), and Hussein Haeri (SOAS Senior Fellow and arbitrator/counsel).

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of this module, you should be able to:

  • Demonstrate a detailed understanding of the legal regime governing international investment.
  • Demonstrate detailed understanding of current debates on international investment law.
  • Demonstrate detailed understanding of the impact of international investment law on the wider developmental objectives of states.
  • Demonstrate a detailed understanding of the substantive protections afforded investors under international law.
  • Be able to critically interrogate the impact of international investment law on state sovereignty and the exercise of regulatory powers of the state.
  • Demonstrate a detailed understanding of ICSID and its dispute resolution system.
  • Critically evaluate the investor-state-dispute settlement system.


  • Weekly 2-hour seminar

Method of assessment

  • Research Essay: 80% (3000 words)
  • Treaty Engagement (Class Discussion): 20%

Suggested reading

  • Dolzer Rudolf & Schreuer Christoph, Principles of international Investment Law, OUP, 2008
  • Douglas Z, Pauwelyn J & Vinuales JE (eds), The Foundations of International Investment Law: Bringing Theory into Practice, OUP, 2014
  • McLachlan C, Shore L & Weininger M, International Investment Arbitration: Substantive Principles, 2nd ed., OUP, 2017.
  • Miles K, The Origins of International Investment Law, CUP, 2013


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules