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Queen Mary Summer School

Introduction to International Law

Lady Justice, the statue that sits atop the Old Bailey in London


Dr Tom MacManus, academic lead, discusses the International Law course

Syllabus: SUM501P_Introduction_to_International_Law [PDF 126KB]

Academic LeadDr Thomas MacManus 

This course offers a broad overview of public international law and its various areas, its relations to politics, and current challenges of the international legal system. The focus will be on the theoretical background of international law as well as its practical implications in our globalised world. It will thus provide a critical, analytical, and stimulating perspective on the nature and scope of international law for every scholar interested in this field. Furthermore, our location in London will offer you access to law firms exclusively dedicated to international law (such as Volterra Fietta), and to international organisations based in London (such as the International Maritime Organisation and the Commonwealth of Nations, International Coffee Organisation).

Teaching in lectures and seminars will be supplemented with a number of structured study sessions, such as a supervised library skills workshop, and assessment preparation for the coursework.

Download course syllabus: 

Course content is subject to change.

Course aims

This course aims to:

  • provide you with fundamental knowledge of the development of international law, its basic functions and workings, its role in our world today, and its most pressing challenges these days
  • offer you an overview of how international law affects domestic law, as well as individuals and their daily life
  • give you an understanding of the various fields of international law and how they are interconnected
  • explain the practical aspects of international law by showcasing the work of law firms engaged in international law cases and the work of international organisations based in London
  • engender an understanding and appreciation of the international legal system, as well as familiarising you with its significance for the law (both international and domestic) as well as politics
  • assess these contemporary challenges in structured seminars and through the proposed form of assessment (ie coursework)
  • enhance your analytical skills and your ability to critically engage with international legal problems, in particular by writing short essays and/or seminar papers (in the shape of the proposed assessment, both formative and summative) and giving an in-class group presentation.

Teaching and learning

You will learn through a combination of lectures, seminars, field trips (to London-based international law firms and other relevant international organisations), and a human rights training workshop with the British Institute of Human Rights (based at Queen Mary University of London).

Learning outcomes

By attending this course, you are expected to:

  • understand and explain the doctrinal basics of international law
  • acquire a substantial body of new knowledge in the various areas of public international law
  • apply this theoretical knowledge to practical cases in order to resolve legal problems
  • identify the key problems in international law and how these problems are interrelated.

You will develop/be able to:

  • comprehend complex legal problems by studying the underlying theoretical framework
  • debate critically and respectfully
  • work collaboratively on a group presentation
  • analyse concrete legal problems, apply the acquired legal knowledge to practical case examples in a rigorous way, and to evaluate possible ways to resolve legal problems in this particular context
  • acquire a critical approach in order to adapt your understanding to new and unfamiliar settings (synthesis).

Thereby this course will enable you to:

  • think critically and independently, and to express your views sensitively and effectively
  • explain and argue clearly and concisely and to develop effective spoken and written English by defending your arguments both in-class and in their coursework (clarity of communication)
  • undertake independent research, seeking out relevant sources and research materials
  • develop good judgement through concrete problem-solving; develop curiosity for contemporary legal problems that require a practical resolution; respect the opinions of others; and develop transferable key skills that you will be able to use in your future career (rounded intellectual development)
  • to critically analyse and synthesise the material acquired in this course in order to be able to resolve concrete legal problems in a global context (critical engagement with knowledge and the acquisition of a global perspective).


Additional costs

All reading material will be provided online, so it is not necessary to purchase any books.

You will be required to pay your travel costs to and from any field trips.

For course and housing fees visit our finance webpage

Entry requirements

We welcome Summer School students from around the world. We accept a range of qualifications

How to apply

Have a question? Get in touch - one of the team will be happy to help!

Applications close 24 May 2024


Teaching dates
Session 1: 1 July - 18 July 2024
Course hours
150 hours (of which 45 will be contact hours)
In-class group presentation (20%), 2,500-word essay (80%)

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