Postgraduate Modules

The Politics of International Law

This module aims to explore the inter-relationships between international law and politics by considering a number of issues and concepts from legal, moral and political perspectives. The issues will include the concept of international ethics; international politics and governance; international justice; international democracy; international law; international subjects; international crime and international institutions and courts.

Module Aims:

The module aims to provide an advanced level of understanding in the analysis of the relationship between global politics and international law.
By the end of the module students will be able to:

  • By the end of the unit, a candidate will be able to develop a critical understanding of international law and politics, a contextual understanding of key philosophical and practical issues within internationalist debates and demonstrate knowledge of the historical, legal and moral development of both international law and politics

  • Demonstrate appropriate cognitive, communicative and transferable skills, including the ability to evaluate advanced concepts, arguments and theories, to employ both primary and secondary sources, to present reasoned and effective arguments in written and oral form, to make individual and group presentations (if requested), to pursue independent learning and to show critical judgement.

This module also equips students with a range of skills, including cognitive and communicative ones. Students will evaluate advanced concepts and theories, employ primary and secondary sources, present reasoned and effective arguments in written and oral form, pursue independent learning and gain the skills to show critical judgement. Varied learning and teaching methods will thus equip students with a range of important transferrable skills, which are vital in terms of employability, including working independently as well as part of a team, managing a varied workload,assimilating and synthesising multiple theoretical ideas, constructing coherent, independent and critical arguments.

Topics covered on this module include:

  1. Introduction: Global Ethics
  2. International Relations and International Law
  3. Universal Human Rights
  4. Internationalism, Universalism and its Discontents
  5. International and Global Justice
  6. Constitutionalization of International Law
  7. The Nature of International Law
  8. Statehood and ‘Subjectivity’ in International Law
  9. The Law of International Organizations
  10. International Courts
  11. International War Crimes
  12. Round Table Discussion on the Future of Global Politics and a Topic of Current Interest

Postgraduate Module
Autumn Semester

Module Code: POL615
Credits: 30

Taught by:

Dr. Garrett Wallace Brown and Dr. Russell Buchan

Teaching Methods:

  • 12 two-hour seminars


  • Essay 1 (2,500 words) - 40% of mark
  • Essay 2 (3,500 words) - 60% of mark

Indicative Reading:


Held, D and McGrew, A. eds. Globalization Theory (Polity, 2007)
Held, D. Debating Globalization (Polity 2005)
Baylis, J. and Smith, S.eds. The Globalization of World Politics. 4th edition (OUP 2008)

Global Ethics and Politics

Hutchings, K. Global Ethics (Polity Press, 2010)
Haywood, A. Global Politics (Palgrave, 2011)
Bell, D. Ethics and World Politics (OUP, 2010)


Brown, G.W. and Held, D, eds. The Cosmopolitanism Reader (Polity, 2010): esp. Introduction and chp 14.
Held, D. Cosmopolitanism: Ideals and Realities (Polity, 2010)
Himmelfarb, G. ‘The Illusion of Cosmopolitanism’ in Cohen (ed) For Love of Country (1996).
Vincent, A. ‘Cosmopolitanism’ in Nationalism and Particularity (CUP 2002)

International Law

Besson, Samantha and Tasioulas, John, eds. The Philosophy of International Law (OUP, 2010)
Byers, Michael, ed., The Role of Law in International Politics (OUP, 2000)
Capps, Patrick Human Dignity and the Foundations of International Law (Hart Publishing, 2009)
Cassese, Antonio, International Law (OUP, 2005)
Charlesworth, Hilary and Chinkin, Christine, The Boundaries of International Law: A Feminist Analysis (MUP, 2000)
Evans, Malcolm, ed., International Law (OUP, 2006)
Goldsmith and Posner, The Limits of International Law (OUP, 2005)
Marks, Susan, The Riddle of All Constitutions (OUP, 2000)
Mullerson, Rein Ordering Anarchy: International Law in International Society (Nijhoff, 2000)
Reus-Smit, C. ed. The Politics of International Law (CUP, 2004)
White, Nigel The Law of International Organisations (MUP, 2005)

What our Students Say:

‘This module has fundamentally changed my thinking about the complex relationship between morality and international law. I am extremely pleased with the content of this course and its delivery.’

‘The module leader is extremely helpful and illustrates an active concern for the progress of his students. He makes himself available to discuss difficult material and gives help when needed.’

‘This is the best module I’ve taken this year.’

‘This is a difficult, but very rewarding course. The module leader is able to breakdown difficult material into easily understood concepts and then uses examples to bring them to life. I recommend it fully.’