Upon completing this course, students will be able to:
- Understand the fundamental goals and principles of criminal law, as well as explain the conditions for establishing criminal responsibility;
- Distinguish between the objective and subjective elements of crimes, and apply these concepts to case facts;
- Discuss the origins and evolution of the field of international criminal law;
- Distinguish the legal element of the core concepts of substantive international criminal law, elaborate on their meaning and apply them to case facts.
- Recognize some of the general limitations of criminal law and punishment.
Note that this course is available to Liberal Arts and Sciences students in the major law only.
This course is taught through co-teaching, which entails that more than a single professor is responsible for teaching the course and guiding the students that take it.
Understanding Law (840015)
This course is designed to introduce students to the general legal principles that define the field of criminal law and teach them various aspects of substantive international criminal law, as defined and developed in the practice of the modern international tribunals. Students would not only be provided with theoretical knowledge on the subject matter, but will also be trained to apply the taught legal concepts to factual circumstances.|
Lectures 1-4 will provide students with a first introduction to criminal law. Questions that will be addressed include, inter alia, what is criminal law, why does it exist, and (why) do we need it? In addition, students will be taught about theories of punishment, the principle of legality, and the objective and subjective elements of a criminal offence: actus reus and mens rea (direct intent, indirect intent, recklessness and negligence). These classes will not only form the foundation on which students will subsequently be taught specific notions of substantive international criminal law, but they will provide the study material for the course’s first moot court exercise (Lecture 7).
Lectures 5-6, 8-10 will shift the focus to the field of international criminal law by first highlighting the birth of this legal order in the post-World War II trials of Nazi war criminals and sketching out the network of courts and tribunals that constitute the modern international criminal justice order. Subsequently, students will be taught the three classic categories of international crimes, the forms of individuals responsibility recognized under international criminal law and the legal elements of various grounds for excluding criminal responsibility established in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. This material will then form part in the courses’ second moot court exercise (Lecture 11).
The final Lecture 12 will examine the general limitations of criminal law and sanctions, providing also a criminological perspective on some of the topics discussed in the course.
- D. Guilfoyle, International Criminal Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016).
- Additional reading materials - including articles, court judgments and book chapters - are specified in the course syllabus.