September 2025 - August 2026
Study Mode Full-time
Application start 4 November 2024
Application end 13 February 2025
Application end (with scholarship) 9 January 2025


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Core Courses

Core courses are mandatory and provide a solid legal basis and understanding of public international law, international humanitarian law, international human rights law in armed conflict, international refugee law, and international criminal law. Weekly tutorials given by our Teaching Assistants complement the core courses and allow students to revise and discuss concepts and issues addressed in class and prepare for exams. The core courses listed on this page represent those for the current academic year.  

International Humanitarian Law

Marco Sassòli

International humanitarian law (IHL) comprises the rules of international law limiting violence in armed conflicts by protecting those who do not or who no longer directly participate in hostilities (wounded, sick, shipwrecked, prisoners of war, civilians); and by restricting the level of violence to the amount necessary to achieve the only legitimate aim of the conflict, which is to weaken the military potential of the enemy. The aim of this course is to provide students with the legal knowledge and the analytical and argumentative skills necessary to understand and interpret the rules of IHL and to apply them to facts of international reality. The learning method will be inductive: students will acquire knowledge of IHL by discovering its rules applicable to practical cases taken from contemporary practice. Students will, therefore, have to prepare for every class and acquire their knowledge of the relevant IHL rules through reading extracts from a textbook and studying a case. This case will then be discussed in class and the professor will answer any questions arising from studying the rules and controversies.

International Human Rights Law

Andrew Clapham, Gloria Gaggioli

This course will provide an overview of the contemporary international human rights (HR) regime, including the substantive norms and key modes of implementation, emphasizing the application of HR in times of armed conflict and their interplay with international humanitarian law (IHL). Starting with general issues concerning the history, development and philosophy of HR, the course will address the substance of international HR law, its sources, scope of application and application in times of armed conflict and points of debate such as the HR obligations of non-state actors. Over the course of the two semesters, students will become well-acquainted with a wide array of individual rights and understand the workings of major HR bodies at the UN and regional levels. In the first semester, we will delve into major HR topics such as scope of application, limitations and derogations and interplay with IHL before moving on to specific rights such as the right to life, the freedom from torture and the right to liberty and security of person. In addition, we will examine complex and controversial topics such as HR in counterterrorism and the HR of military personnel. Each topic will be analysed from the perspective of different universal and regional human rights systems and will include an armed conflict component. In the second semester, particular attention will be paid to the effect on human rights law of a State of War (as opposed to an armed conflict) and the implications this may have for property rights, access to courts and prosecutions for treason, insurrection, sedition, secession or rebellion. There will also be an inquiry into whether combatants killed as a result of an act of aggressive war have been killed in violation of their right not to be arbitrarily deprived of their right to life. The latest case law on the extraterritorial application of HR law in times of armed conflict will be examined in some detail. The enforcement of HR law through the UN Security Council will be considered and particular attention will be paid to emerging topics such as the role of the Arms Trade Treaty in preventing HR violations and the emergence of various HR sanctions regimes recently adopted by various states.

International Law

Andrea Bianchi

International law is a discursive practice used in international relations to deal with legal claims. It is best conceived as a language used by a group of people interacting in a social practice. Emphasis is placed on both the underlying structures of the language spoken by these individuals and the social process of interaction whereby the discourse – which aims to gain social acceptance – is created. The goal of this course is to acquaint students with the terms of this discursive practice and to have them apprehend the fundamental structure of the language of international law, and introduce them to the main processes by which the discourse is articulated by the social actors concerned with its practice. Ultimately, the goal is to train students to speak the language of international law competently and teach them how to argue and interact in the different professional settings where it is spoken.

International Criminal Law

Jérôme de Hemptinne

This course aims to give students advanced knowledge of selected issues of international criminal law. After dealing briefly with the birth and evolution of international criminal law as a branch of public international law with regard to the so-called core crimes, the course focuses on the legal ingredients of each core crime (war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and aggression), with an emphasis on the Rome Statute and the case-law of the International Criminal Court (ICC). As for the mechanisms for enforcing international criminal law, the course examines the role of international and mixed tribunals and national criminal jurisdictions in repressing international crimes, focusing in particular on the legitimate grounds of criminal jurisdiction under international law and the question of universal criminal jurisdiction.

International Refugee Law

Vincent Chetail

Who is a refugee? What is the legal framework protecting those fleeing armed conflicts, persecution and human rights abuses? What are the international obligations of states? This course analyses the main international and regional legal norms governing refugee protection. It examines the sources of international refugee law, including the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, and its interaction with human rights law and international humanitarian law. It also analyses the central notions of international protection such as the principle of non-refoulement, interception at sea, the refugee definition as well as asylum procedures. Particular attention is dedicated to the case law of State Parties to the 1951 Geneva Convention.