International Criminal Law LAW4029

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Law
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course examines a topical and rapidly evolving area of International Law. It considers the actions which have been classed as international crimes - genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and aggression. It also covers the criminal responsibility of individuals under International Law, and the mechanisms provided by International Law for the enforcement of these offences and the prosecution of those accused.

It will cover the range of international courts to date, from the Nuremberg tribunal to the International Criminal Court. The course will shape an understanding of investigations and prosecutions at the International Criminal Court, the International Criminal Tribunals of the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, the use of hybrid tribunals, and the relevance of domestic prosecutions.

The thrust of the course is to provide a solid understanding of International Criminal Law within an informed policy context, including the non-legal obstacles that impede the effective prosecution of international criminal offences.


The course will comprise of 10 x 2-hour-seminars.

The seminars will occur on a weekly basis and will contain dedicated units with a specific focus on active learning strategies. Mid-semester there will be a reading week.

Requirements of Entry

This course is only available to LLB students (and visiting law students).

Excluded Courses





Essay (ILO 1-5) 100%


Students will submit a 5000-word essay (including references), which will require them to conduct independent research on a specific contemporary issue of relevance for World Affairs of international criminal law (ILO 3,4). The essay topic will span across a range of issues and challenges in international criminal law. It will allow students to demonstrate their knowledge (ILO 1), require the construction of written legal arguments (ILO 5), invite critical assessment of and develop solutions to identified issues and problems (ILO 2) .

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. Where, exceptionally, reassessment on Honours courses is required to satisfy professional/accreditation requirements, only the overall course grade achieved at the first attempt will contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course aims to foster a critical understanding of substantive issues in International Criminal Law and to develop certain "transferable" skills. In particular, the course aims:


Enhance knowledge and understanding of International Criminal Law;

Develop powers of legal reasoning, problem solving and critical analysis;

Encourage in-depth and independent learning;

Develop research skills by requiring students to undertake an assessed research project;

Provide students with the experience of working in groups.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate a solid understanding of the normative frameworks in international criminal law

2. Solve International Criminal Law problems and identify the relevant rules and issues;

3. Critically examine contemporary world affairs in light of International Criminal Law;

4. Be able to use library and information technology resources to research primary and secondary International Law sources; and

5. Be better able to construct written legal arguments.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

  Completion of the summative assignment