Postgraduate taught 

International Law LLM

International Courts and Tribunals LAW5066

  • 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

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 dispaute settlement in international law.


10 x 2 hour seminars in semester 2.

Excluded Courses





This course is assessed by an essay of 1500 words (25%) and a 2 hour final examination (75%).

Main Assessment In: December

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. Furthermore, separate single issue classes will explore contemporary issues which have arisen in the practice of international courts and tribunals in recent times.

Further aims are to:

■ 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:


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

2. 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;

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

4. 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

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