International Law/War(fare)

Jessica Corsi

When can a state launch an armed attack against another? What legal responses can a state take to terrorist attacks under international law, and what challenges do nuclear weapons pose for the existing legal rules? In a world of political complexity, do the legal structures allowing recourse to force make sense in an increasingly decentralized, non-state based world?

This course will introduce students to the contemporary topics related to the use of force in international law, equipping students with the intellectual apparatus to critically analyse and appraise the current legal rules and system. It will provide a brief introduction to international law, the sources, mechanisms of responsibility and pertinent actors, before moving to focused case studies on the collective and individual security, the responsibility to protect and humanitarian intervention, non-state actors, and nuclear weapons. The course will finish by examining international humanitarian and criminal law.

Pre-requisites: Strong English language skills required.

Transferrable skills acquired: Students will acquire the ability to read a legal case, and understand and interpret legal documents. They will practice critical thinking on issues of international relations, combining positive and normative approaches to the law.

Course aimed at: Undergraduate students with an interest in, or intention to continue post-graduate study of, law or international relations.

IMPORTANT: Students taking this course must purchase their own copy of M. Evans’ Public International Law (OUP, 4th edition, 2014)It is strongly recommended that it is bought in advance of travel to Cambridge as sufficient copies will not be available for all students in local shops and libraries.


1 Final Essay (2,500-3,000 words): 50%

1 Final Exam: 50%

Lecture Hours: 12 x 1 hour 15 minutes (total 15 hours)

Seminar Hours: 8 x 1 hour 15 minutes (total 10 hours)