Postgraduate Module Descriptor

LAWM683: International Criminal Law

This module descriptor refers to the 2017/8 academic year.


NQF Level7
Credits30 ECTS Value15
Term(s) and duration

This module ran during term 1 (10 weeks)

Academic staff

Dr Agnieszka Jachec-Neale (Convenor)





Available via distance learning


International Criminal law is exciting, relatively new but rapidly developing field of international law. Having emerged from the post Second World War tribunals, in the past 50 years it has grown and expended in respond to constant demands for effective international criminal justice. Serious violations of human rights, grave breaches of international humanitarian law and acts of aggression now frequently spark calls for international criminal justice. In this module you will study both institutional and substantive aspects of international criminal law. In this module you will cover substantive, procedural and institutional aspects of international criminal law. We will begin by examining the core four international crimes namely: war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and crime of aggression. We will consider their creation, evolution, nature and scope of these crimes. We will then move to discussion of form of liability or criminal responsibility and examine various defenses, which can be raised during the trials.

This topic will lead you to the second part of the module, which focuses on examination of numerous international institutions involved in dispensing international criminal justice and involved in development of international criminal law. We will consider the selected institutions in a historical order with focus on each institution nature, function and its lasting impact in the field of international justice. The institutions we will focus include International Military Tribunals for Nuremberg and the Far East, ad hoc International Criminal Tribunals for Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, the first permanent international court- International Criminal Court. We will also consider internationalised and domestic prosecutions, their role in addressing mass atrocities and how they operate alongside other alternative and non-judicial accountability mechanisms. We will finish our module with a critical outlook and debate on current developments and challenges of international criminal justice.

Prior exposure to public international law is recommended, but is not absolutely essential for the study of this module. Students who have not studied public international law in the past are advised to undertake additional introductory reading and will be offered specific guidance. Teaching method for this module consists of weekly seminars requiring active participation and engagement by all students under the guidance of the module convenor.

Please note that students enrolled on this module are expected to participate in a simulation exercise as part of their formative assessment. Students who are enrolled on less than four modules qualifying for the LLM pathway in International Law, Conflict and Security may have to contribute up to 9 hours of their guided independent study time towards their participation in the simulation.

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