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Unit information: General Principles of International Law in 2021/22

Unit name General Principles of International Law
Unit code LAWD20041
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. McConnell
Open unit status Not open




School/department University of Bristol Law School
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

This is an introductory unit in public international law provides some of the fundamental skills and knowledge required to study more specialist aspects of international law. The unit also stands alone as an overview of some foundational issues in international law. It considers a number of key inter-related questions: in particular, what is international law and why does it matter? To whom does it apply? Where are the rules of this legal order to be found, and how are they enforced? The unit is designed to make students think critically about the structure, sources, and function of international law and the relevance of these issues to contemporary international problems. In the unit, students will be invited to answer these questions by going through the following examinable topics: the sources of international law, including especially the law of treaties; international legal personality; the relationship between international law and domestic law; jurisdiction; immunities; state responsibility; and, the rules of international law governing the use of force.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of this unit a successful student will be able to:

  • Comprehend the institutional structure of international law, the law-making and decision-making processes;
  • Comprehend and analyse the principles of international law;
  • Analyse how international relates to national law;
  • Evaluate proposals for the reform of international law.

Teaching Information

Teaching will be delivered through a variety of asynchronous and synchronous activities

Assessment Information

1 x summative assessment: Timed Open Book Assessment with a specified word count (100%)

The assessment will assess all of the intended learning outcomes for this unit.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. LAWD20041).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.