Transnational Crime, Justice, and Security LAW5201

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Law
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No

Short Description

This course provides an advanced level investigation into emerging regimes of transnational criminal law - a rapidly evolving area of law that addresses diverse global phenomena such as cybercrime, trafficking in humans, or organised crime. It will be taught in a blended format, which will combine eight interactive seminars - partly online and partly face-to-face - with two small-group tutorials. This course will serve as a core course for students on the LLM in International Law and Security and International Law more generally. For students envisaging a career in law enforcement agencies, this course will provide a competitive edge.

The course is broadly divided into three distinct parts. The introductory first part will provide students with an understanding of the evolution of specific transnational legal regimes and introduce specific core concepts. This introduction will provide the nuts and bolts for the students to enter in-depth investigations of substantive crime provisions and criminalisation processes of transnational phenomena. As such, the course will address in its second part legal regimes to combat modern slavery, human trafficking and migrant smuggling; drug trafficking; transnational organised crime, corruption and money laundering; terrorism; cybercrime; as well as crimes against the environment. The course will enable students to critically question the existing regimes from a security and justice perspective. Part three will facilitate the study of the complex procedural structures of international cooperation and enforcement (e.g. extradition regimes), investigate the work of international institutions such as Interpol and UNDOC, and provide an outlook on future developments.


This 20-credit course will comprise 10X2 hour seminars. Face-to-face seminars will last two hours each. Online provisions will usually comprise of a pre-recorded element and synchronous interaction, which will in total amount to two hours per seminar. 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. 


Part 1 - Introduction and core concepts

Week 1: Introducing the course content and structure, introducing essential concepts (threshold concepts): competing jurisdictions, prosecute or extradite, sovereignty v international obligations


Part 2 - Crimes

Week 2: Slavery, human trafficking and migrant smuggling

Week 3: Drug Trafficking

Week 4: Terrorism

Week 5: Cybercrime I

Week 6: Cybercrime II

Week 7: Crimes against the Environment

Week 8: Transnational Organized Crime, Corruption and Money Laundering


Part 3 - Enforcement and Institutions

Week 9: International agencies and cooperation

Week 10: International cooperation

Requirements of Entry


Excluded Courses





Written exam (ILO 1, 2, 3 and 4) 70%

Students will sit a 2-hour written exam during the exam diet at the end of term 2. They will answer two essay-style or problem-based questions out of a choice of four. These cover the diverse range of transnational criminal law regimes. The exam questions will allow students to demonstrate their knowledge and invite a critical assessment of problems linked to those regimes in a comprehensive manner.


Essay (ILO 5) 30%

Students will submit a 2000-word essay (including references), which will require them to conduct independent research on a specific issue of transnational criminal law. An opportunity for formative feedback on a draft answer plan exists (see further Q22).

Main Assessment In: April/May

Course Aims

The aim of this programme is to introduce students to core materials relating to transnational criminal law and to a growing body of critical literature in the field. The course also allows students to develop a solid understanding of how states respond to global challenges through criminal law. The course will enhance students' written and oral communication skills by offering them opportunities to present work-in-progress and engage in structured discussions with their peers, and support participants in further developing their critical thinking skills.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

1. Critically evaluate the multi-level legal frameworks for transnational criminal law enforcement and cooperation

2. Assess the policy processes of criminalisation of transnational conduct, doctrinal weaknesses, human rights considerations, and implementation problems unique to transnational criminal law

3. Demonstrate a solid understanding of the substantive norms in existing treaty regimes

4. Critically assess the legitimacy of transnational criminal law approaches

5. Conduct independent research on topics relating to transnational criminal law.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

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