Postgraduate Module Descriptor

LAWM099: International Refugee Law

This module descriptor refers to the 2016/7 academic year.

Module Content

Syllabus Plan

This module will be delivered as 10 discrete seminars divided according to theme.  While the exact content and structure of the course may vary from year to year in response to developments in the area of forced migration the module will typically include the following subjects: 

  1. The Contemporary Context of International Law Relating to Forced Migration and International Law as a Source of Refugee Rights;
  2. The 1951 Refugee Convention;
  3. International/Complementary Framework for Refugee Protection;
  4. The European Context Relating to Forced Migration: Distinguishing the Regional From the International;
  5. Protection Under the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms;
  6. European Union Qualifications Directive: Minimum Standards of Protection;
  7. Forced Migration In The Post 9/11 Security Framework;
  8. Surpassing or Trailing International Law in the Protection of Forced Migrants;
  9. Failures of Protection at International Law: Mass Influx, IDPs, Non-Entrée;
  10. Case Studies (Boxing Day Tsunami, Kosovo, Rwanda, Palestine, Sudan, Syria, Iraq).

Although student learning will largely be self-directed the core of module teaching will take place during a weekly three hour seminar. The module convenor will begin each seminar with a 20 to 30 minute introduction in order to sketch out the background and context of each topic.  After that the students will be expected to lead the seminar.

Each student will lead a seminar topic during the course of the term and, ideally, they will then further develop this topic for their written assessment.  Although students will participate in each seminar they will also focus on one topic intensively throughout the course of the term.  At least one student will have to research, write and present an introductory paper to the rest of the group during each seminar. All students should read this paper in advance as well as study the material recommended on the module handbook and be prepared to discuss the assigned topic in detail. In addition, students work independently on the assessed essay.

It is important to emphasise that this module does not consist of a series of lectures. Instead, this module is best viewed as an extended discussion.  This is an opportunity for us to read and think deeply and exchange ideas on this topic together.

Learning and Teaching

This table provides an overview of how your hours of study for this module are allocated:

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

...and this table provides a more detailed breakdown of the hours allocated to various study activities:

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities3010 x 3 hour seminars
Guided independent study170170 hours of independent study (including preparation of the seminar discussion papers/presentations)
Guided independent study100100 hours of preparation for the summative assessments

Online Resources

This module has online resources available via ELE (the Exeter Learning Environment).

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: