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International Law in the 21st Century – Part 1: Theory

International Law in the 21st Century – Part 1: Theory

If you are curious about the laws that underpin national and international societies, or are looking to take the next step in a challenging and rewarding career in Law, then invest your summer exploring International Law in Oxford.

This one-week programme, which is residential in a college of the University of Oxford, can be combined with Part 2 in this series, “Real-World Applications”, for a longer immersion in this most exciting and relevant of disciplines.

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Course Summary

This course will provide students interested in taking their next step in a career in law with a solid foundation of knowledge in the fascinating subdiscipline of international law.

The course will start by introducing students to the fundamental concepts of law, the philosophy that underpins it and the challenges of its implementation.

By unpacking the architecture of international law, it will assist students to identify the sources of international law and institutions that enact and enforce it nationally and internationally. It will also support students in grasping the evolution of international law, drawing on the history of the past two centuries up to the current academic debates that concern international law scholars of the 21st century.

Case law will be introduced through the study of legal constitutions. Students will apply the insights from academic theory, philosophical analysis and jurisprudential thinking to a critical analysis of International Criminal Law.

The course culminates in a professional debate on an international law case study focused on conventions and articles – previous topics have included genocide, war, international criminal organisations and networks, and human trafficking.

Course Outcomes

By the end of the course students will understand:

  • The history of international law and be familiar with current theoretical debates 
  • The fundamental concepts of law and understand where laws come from
  • Competing philosophical principles that underpin laws and legal systems
  • The theoretical approaches to international law and the fundamental elements of national and international criminal law
  • How to identify the sources of international law and the authorities that make it

Course Outcomes

Monday Lecture 1: Justice – the morality of law
Seminar 1: Would you ever kill an innocent person?
Tuesday Lecture 2: Theory of international law
Seminar 2: What kind of word do we (want to) live in?
Wednesday Lecture 3: Comparative constitutional law
Seminar 3: Yes! That’s how we settle disputes in my country
Thursday Lecture 4: International Criminal law-when a guilty mind meets a guilty act
Seminar 4: Let the blind man die!
Friday Lecture 5: Does slaughtering 3 million drug addicts constitute genocide?
Seminar 5: Presentations, course review and action planning


Assessment Methods

1 x Written Assignment (500-750 words)

1 x Group Presentation


Oxford College Accommodation

  • Location Oxford
  • Ages Ages: 12+, 13-15, 16-18, 19+
  • Bedroom Type Single and twin
  • Bathroom Type En-suite & Shared (single gender)
  • Year Built Founded in 1096 (University of Oxford)

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