International Public Law


Public International Law (PIL) is a complex and dynamic field of law, and an extremely important field through which to think about, and act upon, the current global order. This module provides a detailed study of the history, rules, doctrines and institutions of PIL. It offers an analysis of the international legal order and a firm basis upon which to found arguments concerning the global importance of international law. The module pays special attention to the way in which the evolution and operation of the international legal order influence international relations. At the end of the course students will be able to assess the main rules, doctrines and institutions of PIL. Students will also develop the necessary tools to reflect critically on some of the most important problems and tensions that define the contemporary global order: calamities resulting from war, international interventions and surveillance strategies in countries like Afghanistan, Libya and Pakistan, the effects of increasing socio-economic disparities and environmental decay in both the Global South and the Global North.

On successful completion of this module students will be able to: 1. demonstrate a critical awareness of the significance of International Law within the field of International Relations; 2. demonstrate a sophisticated knowledge and understanding of the concepts, principles and rules of International Law; 3. demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the current theoretical and doctrinal debates within International Law; 4. critically apply international legal methods to international legal problems 5. demonstrate an intricate familiarity with the operations of the institutions of International Law.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Veronica Corcodel


Weekly - 4.5

Total - 54

Teaching language



Not aplicable.


Essential Sources

1. Jan Klabbers, International Law (CUP, 2nd ed., 2021)

2. Malcom Shaw, International Law (CUP, 8th ed., 2017)

General PIL Textbooks:

Anton, D., P. Mathew and W. Morgan, International Law: Cases and Materials (Oxford University Press, 2005)

Brownlie, I. Principles of Public International Law (6th ed, 2003)

Cassese, A. International Law (OUP, 2nd ed., 2001)

Crawford, James, Brownlie¿s Principles of Public International Law (OUP, 8th ed., 2012).

Evans, M (ed), International Law (OUP, 5nd ed, 2017)

Harris, D. and S. Sivakumaran, International Law: Cases and Materials (8th ed, 2015)

Other Books:

Anghie, A. Imperialism, Sovereignty and the Making of International Law (CUP, 2007).

Bowring, B. The Degradation of the International Legal Order? The Rehabilitation of Law and the Possibility of Politics (Glasshouse, 2008).

Chimni, B.S., International Law and World Order (CUP, 2017).

Knop, K. Diversity and Self-Determination in International Law (CUP, 2002).

Koskenniemi, M, From Apology to Utopia The Structure of International Legal Argument (CUP, 2005).

Koskenniemi, M, The Gentle Civilizer of Nations: The Rise and Fall of International Law 1870- 1960 (CUP, 2004)

Koskenniemi, M, The Politics of International Law (Hart, 2011)

Marks, S, International Law on the Left (OUP 2008).

Orford, A, International Authority and the Responsibility to Protect (CUP, 2011).

Orford, A, International Law and its Others (CUP, 2006).

Pahuja, S, Decolonizing International Law (CUP, 2011).

Parfitt, R. The Process of International Legal Reproduction (CUP, 2019)

Peevers, C, The Politics of Justifying Force (OUP, 2013).

Rajagopal, B, International Law from Below: Development, Social Movements and Third World Resistance, (CUP, 2003).

Shahabuddin, M., Ethnicity and International Law: Histories, Politics and Practices (Cambridge University Press, 2016)

Simpson, G, Great Powers and Outlaw States: Unequal Sovereigns in the International Legal Order (CUP, 2004).

Teaching method

This class will consist in a combination of seminars and interactive lectures. The first three seminars will be dedicated to a discussion of mandatory readings. Subsequently, the seminars will be mainly an opportunity for students to practice their knowledge of public international law through group presentations. The interactive lectures will use PowerPoint slides, visual material (videos and pictures), as well as questions to be addressed by students in small group discussions.

Evaluation method

The assessment for this module consists in the following distribution:

40% group presentations

60% essays and\or problem question.

Students maintain the right to take the final exam, if they are not happy with their grades or if they chose not to do the continuous evaluation.

The final exam will be made of one problem question and four essay questions, students being able to choose 3 questions out of the given 5. It will be a three-hour exam.

Group presentations (40%). Students will be assigned to groups of 3 to 5 students. They will have to choose an aspect of the topic of the previous week that they think it is worth developing further. 

As for the second task (60%), students will have to choose two out of three questions (a problem question and two essay questions). The essay should be between 1300 and 1800 words. The problem question has no word count limits. The second task will be communicated to students three weeks before the submission deadline.

Subject matter

1. Course Administration Information and Methodological Guidelines

2. The History and Nature of PIL

3. The Sources of PIL

4. The Subjects of PIL

5. The individual in PIL and Human Rights Protection

6. The Law of Treaties 

7. The International & Domestic Relation 

8. Spheres and Limits of Jurisdiction 

9. Spheres and Limits of Responsibility

10. Issues of Enforcement 

11. Force and Violence

12. Global Economy

13. Concluding Remarks on the limits and possibilities of PIL


Programs where the course is taught: