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

Unit name General Principles of International Law
Unit code LAWDM0026
Credit points 30
Level of study M/7
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 unit introduces students to the basic features and building blocks of the international legal system. The unit considers where international law comes from (the sources of international law, including the law of treaties); the bodies that are objects of international legal regulation (international personality, including issues of statehood and recognition); the principles by which a state can exercise its authority over other individuals and states (jurisdiction); the situations in which a state does not exercise such jurisdiction (including state, head of state and diplomatic immunity); and looks at the circumstances in which a state will be liable under international law both for its own acts and the acts of those subject to its jurisdiction (state responsibility). All these issues will be examined in the light of current concerns within the international community. Through all of this runs the general question of what is international law for?

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of this unit, students are expected to be able to achieve the following:

  • identify and understand the general principles of international law
  • critically analyse these general principles from a variety of perspectives
  • apply general principles to hypothetical problems
  • use the case-law of the International Court as a guide in advising governments and international organizations.

Teaching Information

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

Assessment Information

2 x summative assessments: 1x coursework and 1 x Timed Open Book Assessment with a specified word count

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. LAWDM0026).

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.