Postgraduate taught 

Human Rights & International Politics MSc/PgDip

United Nations Law LAW5069

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Law
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1
  • Available to Visiting 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

Excluded Courses





5,000 word essay (100%)

Main Assessment In: December

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 posses:

a thorough understanding the functioning of the United Nations;
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;
a familiarity with the successes of the organisation as well as its shortcomings;
an ability to appreciate the causes of the difficulties experienced by an international organisation devoted to maintaining peace and security, including the problems of political interference, budgetary constraints and super-power rivalries;
a comprehensive understanding of the UN organs, as reflected in current developments;
the ability to argue logically and communicate effectively orally as well as in writing;
the ability to analyse complex problems and identify the applicable legal rules;
the ability to carry out advanced legal research using paper and electronic resources.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits