International Refugee Law (LAWM672)

Staff - Convenor
Credit Value15
Academic Year2013/4
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level7
Duration of Module Term 1: 12 weeks;

Module aims

To undertake a detailed study of the issues facing and protections available to refugees, displaced persons and other forced migrants under international law. An initial overview will determine the contemporary context of forced international migration before embarking on an analysis of the varying legal protections afforded to migrants; including specific treaty and general human rights based protections. The validity of the current international framework will be assessed against a series of historical case studies, including Darfur and Rwanda

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Understand and analyse the evolution of the international protection regime available to migrants and explain the rationales underlying the legal responses of the international community to the varied problems of forced migration.
  • 2. Knowledge of the basic principles and standards of protection found in refugee, human rights and international law generally.
  • 3. Critically evaluate the relevance of post WWII responses to the post Millennium context in which globalisation, identity based conflicts, changing perceptions of security and mobility are central

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Ability to identify key legal issues arising in this area as well as practical problems generated by a particular instrument.
  • 5. Capacity to handle primary sources of law and secondary sources of literature
  • 6. Ability to address contemporary issues of migration law and policy with reference to an array of material

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. Ability to engage in independent and group research, including presentation in written and oral form for group discussion.
  • 8. Ability to research, study, identify and organise material in order to produce arguments that are coherent and complex while complying with strict timelines.

Syllabus plan

Seminar 1: Introduction - The Contemporary Context of International Law Relating to Forced Migration and International Law As a Source of Refugee Rights

Seminar 2: Overview of the 1951 Refugee Convention

Seminar 3: International Framework for Refugee Protection

Seminar 4: Failures of Protection at International Law - Forced Displacement

Seminar 5: Case Studies (Boxing Day Tsunami, Rwanda, Sudan, Palestine, Iraq)

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad
15 135 0

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities15 hours5 x 3 hour seminars
Guided independent study135 hoursIndependent study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
A seminar paper, forming the basis of a presentation to the groupup to 5,000 words with accompanying powerpoint presentation.1-8Individualised feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay 1003,750 words1-8Individualised feedback

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay (3,750 words)1-8Next reassessment period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Goodwin-Gill and McAdam The Refugee in International Law (2007)
Hathaway The Rights of Refugees under International Law (2005)
Phuong The International Protection of Displaced Persons (2004)
Juss International Migration and Global Justice (2006)

A specific reading list for each seminar is included as part of the module handbook made available to students in advance of the module

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

CALS Asylum Case Research:

Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees (Geneva Convention):

European Commission, Directorate Freedom, Security and Justice:

European Council on Refugees and Exiles:

Forced Migration Online:

Migrant’s Rights Network:

The Michigan-Melbourne Refugee Caselaw Site:

The Refugee Law Reader:

Refugee Council UK:

Refugee Law Research Guide:


UNHCR RefWorld:

World Refugee Survey:

Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date


Key words search

International Refugee Law