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.

International Courts and Tribunals (EM) LAW5188

  • 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

International Law obliges states to settle their disputes peacefully without however prescribing one particular mechanism of dispute resolution. This course explores the role of international courts and tribunals in contemporary international law and focuses on a number of discrete issues that have arisen in recent practice which pose significant challenges to the future of dispute settlement in international law.


10 x 2 hour seminars over semester 1

Requirements of Entry

The course is open to all EMJMD ILGSPD students subject to the requirements of the programme.

Excluded Courses





5,000 word essay (100%)

Course Aims

The principle aim of the course is to promote familiarity with the role of international courts and tribunals in the international legal order. To that end, different institutions as well as their distinctive features will be introduced. Beyond that, the course aims to encourage students to consider the role of binding dispute settlement in a system lacking compulsory jurisdiction, and to raise awareness for the chances and problems of the modern, seemingly uncoordinated system of international courts and tribunals. The focus will mainly be on classical inter-State dispute settlement; however, seminars on dispute settlement in the fields of investment and human rights will help appreciate the role of non-State actors in the present-day system of dispute settlement.

Further aims are to:

1. develop the analytical and critical skills of students by detailed examination of the relevant conventions, statutes, rules of court and cases;

■ develop the oral communication skills of students through the use of both staff-led and student-led seminars;

■ provide students with an understanding of the practical importance of international law in litigation scenarios;

■ encourage independent learning.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this students will be able to:

■ identify the main international courts and tribunals, and evaluate their role in the settlement of international disputes in contemporary international law;

■ critically assess the respective roles of international (quasi-)judicial bodies such as the International Court of Justice, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, WTO panels and Appellate Body, and various mixed-dispute settlement fora;

■ understand the reasons for the increasing recourse to binding dispute settlement and the proliferation of dispute settlement mechanisms in recent decades;

■ identify general issues of procedure (in a broad sense) arising before all international courts and tribunals, and be familiar with the current debate about a common law of international adjudication.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Generic regulations apply.