Law and Policy of International Courts and Tribunals

Key information

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Module code
FHEQ Level
School of Law

Module overview

This module examines international judicial efforts aimed at resolving international disputes, namely international adjudication and arbitration.  It starts from the assumption that we should not blindly transfer expectations held of domestic courts to international courts because they are subject to different structural principles which guide their activity and competence.  Their roles and functions accordingly differ.   The module considers the legal and policy issues that influence the ways in which international courts operate, the impact they have on the development of international law, and the part played by States and other actors in the international judicial process.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  • The requirements of the general obligation under international law to settle disputes peacefully;
  • The historical evolution and contemporary understandings of international judicial mechanisms;
  • Modes of access to international justice, including the doctrine of diplomatic protection of nationals by States;
  • Legal and policy issues associated with the composition, functioning, and powers of the permanent and ad hoc international courts and tribunals;
  • The advisory competence of international courts;
  • The role and interests of the various disputants and interested third parties in proceedings before these mechanisms;
  • The part which these mechanisms play in the international legal order, and their inter-relationship in the light of the proliferation of international judicial processes.


  • Weekly 2 hour lecture

Method of assessment

  • Coursework: 50% (2000 words)
  • Unseen written exam: 50%

Suggested reading

  • Caron D: War and international adjudication: reflections on the 1899 conference
    94 American Journal of International Law 4 (2000)
  • Guillaume G: The use of precedent by international judges and arbitrators
    2 Journal of International Dispute Settlement 5 (2011)
  • Merrills J: The means of dispute settlement in Evans M (Ed): International law Oxford UP: Oxford: 2014 (4th edn)
  • Scobbie I: “ All right, Mr DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up”: some critical reflections on Professor Cassese’s “The International Court of Justice: it is high time to restyle the respected old lady”, 23 European Journal of International law 1071 (2012)
  • Thirlway HWA: The International Court of Justice in Evans M (Ed): International law Oxford UP: Oxford: 2014 (4th edn)


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