Module details for Public International Law


Public International Law is the body of rules and principles which are binding upon states (and certain other entities) in their relations with one another. Public International Law is sometimes called the "law of nations" or just simply International Law.


Public International Law is aimed at providing students with knowledge and understanding of the principles of public international law. The module introduces students to debates about the nature of international law and the international legal order, and its relationship to states, conflict, justice and human rights.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module the student should be able to:

1.  discuss the functioning of the international legal system, international law-making processes, differing approaches to the subject, and display a greater familiarity with international law research materials and methods;

2.  describe and evaluate contemporary legal issues in public international law and identify lacunae in the law in the context of the relationship between states and certain other entities;

3.  appraise and evaluate the rules underpinning the law as it relates to states’ interaction with one another and with international organisations in the context of the above-mentioned relationship; and

4.  form legally-accountable opinions on a number of cutting-edge issues in the field of public international law.

Indicative Content

1 Introduction

Public international law as a discipline in the context of the relationship between states and other entities. The underpinnings of public international law as a discipline distinct from municipal (national) law and private international law.

2 Substantive Issues

Issues that are included are the historical development and theory of international law; the relationship between municipal law and international law; sources of pubic international law; states as subjects of international law; territory; the use of force in international law; state responsibility; self-contained legal regimes; the settlement of international disputes.

Teaching and Learning Work Loads

Teaching and Learning Method Hours
Lecture 4
Tutorial/Seminar 30
Practical Activity 0
Assessment 40
Independent 126
Total 200

Guidance notes

SCQF Level - The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework provides an indication of the complexity of award qualifications and associated learning and operates on an ascending numeric scale from Levels 1-12 with SCQF Level 10 equating to a Scottish undergraduate Honours degree.

Credit Value – The total value of SCQF credits for the module. 20 credits are the equivalent of 10 ECTS credits. A full-time student should normally register for 60 SCQF credits per semester.


We make every effort to ensure that the information on our website is accurate but it is possible that some changes may occur prior to the academic year of entry. The modules listed in this catalogue are offered subject to availability during academic year 2021/22 , and may be subject to change for future years.