This aim of this course is to introduce students to law in the global context. This course provides students with both an introduction to the basic concepts of law as well as to practical skills, such as reading legislation and case-law, and applying the law to concrete problems. The course is split into two halves. The first half is an introduction to basic legal concepts and skills; the second half is dedicated to international law.
The course will primarily – as an introductory course – focus on teaching the basic rules and functioning of law in general and of international law as they are in positive law: the law as it is (lex lata). However, this course also aims to provide an introduction to the challenges that law as a discipline and as a practice faces from the structures and processes that are generally put under the heading of ‘globalisation’. The international stage is being transformed by a variety of actors that are participating in global law creation and enforcement beyond the traditional state-based dichotomy of international law and domestic law. This new global landscape is characterised by a mixture of state/non-state and public/private actors in the form of international organisations (such as the WTO), regional organisations (like the EU), international financial institutions (such as the World Bank), standard-setting organisations (such as ICANN), expert committees (like the Basle Committee), NGOs (like Amnesty International), indigenous peoples or other sub-state groups, political protest groups (like the Occupy movement) or transnational religious movements (such as the Catholic Church or radical Islamic groups), among many others.
It is, however, not only the international arena that is changing. The processes of globalisation – economic, cultural and social – are not only transforming our worlds but law itself is contested in this new global context. We will begin consideration of what forms these challenges take and what this might mean for law – both in terms of norms and processes – and its subjects/ actors. These themes will be picked up and further developed in later courses, notably Introduction to Global Law II and Perspectives on Law in a Global Context.
In the first half of the course we will study basic components of jurisprudence (the legal science). We begin with focusing on the unique characteristics of law as opposed to other kinds of rules and norms, the organization of law as a system of rules, and the sub-division of legal systems into fields of public, private and criminal law. Next, we learn how to read and interpret the two most important kinds of legal texts: legislation and case law. In doing so, we are introduced to the science and strategies of legal argumentation. Finally, we reflect on the impacts that globalization has on jurisprudence.
In the second half of the course, we study the key areas of international law. We will focus on the basics – the purpose, nature, sources and subjects of international law – and on the functioning of international law, including enforcement by both peaceful and non-peaceful means. At the same time, however, we will consider through the assignments and our discussions in class the contemporary trends and challenges for international law, including globalization, terrorism, human rights and climate change.
This course will use three methods of instruction. The first part of our bi-weekly class will take the form of an interactive lecture. This part of the class will introduce students to the development of a particular area of law and to the substance of the law. The second part of the bi-weekly class will take the form of a seminar, in which the class will discuss the application of the law to the practical case or example given. The third method of instruction involves self-study in the preparation of assignments and tutor feedback on those assignments through class discussion.
The methods of instruction for this course require students that are curious, motivated and willing to participate. Designing a course that uses such methods is more demanding for faculty members but delivers much more to students and is generally more fun. It is essential in this course that students come prepared to class and be willing to participate in creating a mutual learning environment. For this reason, attendance in class is compulsory.
The main assessment for the course is split in two and takes the form of a mid-term take home assignment and an open-book exam. In the take home assignment, students are required to demonstrate their ability to find and assess legislation and case law, and to develop an argumentative position for a practical fact-situation on the basis of these materials. In the open-book exam, students are required to demonstrate their understanding of the development and functioning of international law by applying their knowledge to practical questions. The take home assignment constitutes 25% of the overall grade and the open-book exam constitutes 50% of the overall grade.
The remaining 25% of the final grade is made up from the grades received for the two assignments selected at random, one from each part of the course.
Students are required to write an assignment prior to each class. These assignments are to be no more than a single A4 page and should respond to the questions and/or problems posted under each assignment. Students are allowed to miss two assignments only over the course as a whole. Failure to submit 15 of the 17 individual written assignments will result in the loss of the assignment portion of the grade i.e. 25% of the final exam. This rule will be strictly applied and it is your responsibility to ensure that your submitted assignments are received.
A model assignment answer for both parts of the course have been posted on Blackboard to give you some guidance.
Students should note that it is possible to resit all parts of the assessment separately; however, the rule on 'best grade counts' will be applied only to the overall grade.
Students should consult the coursebook, available on blackboard two weeks prior to the start of the course, carefully.