Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

Advanced Introduction to the Law of the United Nations LAW5068

  • Academic Session: 2022-23
  • School: School of Law
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1
  • Available to Visiting Students: No
  • Available to Erasmus Students: No

Short Description

So much of what is currently relevant in International Law stems from the activities of the United Nations. The course will initially focus on the establishment of the organisation, its legal status and the functioning of its main organs, including the Security Council, the General Assembly, the Secretary-General and the International Court of Justice - all major players in current International Law. 


10 x 2 hour seminars in semester 1.

Requirements of Entry

The course is open to all LLM students subject to the requirements of the LLM programme on which a student is enrolled.

Excluded Courses





The course is assessed by an essay of 2000 words (40%) and an essay of 3000 words (60%).

Course Aims

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


■ to provide an in-depth analysis of the contribution of the United Nations system to the development of public international law;

■ to provide a fuller and deeper understanding of the legal and political factors that govern the functioning of the organisation;

■ to examine current developments in the United Nations;

■ to consider the effect of politics on the functioning of the United Nations;

■ to examine the relationship between the different organs of the United Nations; and

■ to understand the development of international organisations and the place of the United Nations within that development.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of the course students should possess:


1. a thorough understanding the functioning of the United Nations;

2. an understanding of the sources of public international law related to the United Nations;

an understanding of the law relating to the functioning of international organisations;

3. a familiarity with the successes of the organisation as well as its shortcomings;

4. an ability to appreciate the causes of the difficulties experienced by an international organisation devoted to

5. maintaining peace and security, including the problems of political interference, budgetary constraints and super-power rivalries;

6. a comprehensive understanding of the UN organs, as reflected in current developments;

7. the ability to argue logically and communicate effectively orally as well as in writing;

8. the ability to analyse complex problems and identify the applicable legal rules;

9. the ability to carry out advanced legal research using paper and electronic resources.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course summative assessment.