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The University of Southampton

LAWS3101 International Criminal Law

Module Overview

International Criminal Law, rather than comparing domestic law of different countries, is concerned with only those crimes which are of such gravity that they affect the whole international community. International criminal law deals therefor with crimes such as genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, usually committed in the context of armed conflict. This module explores how the international community responds to such mass atrocities, how it tries to bring even the most powerful perpetrators to justice and the numerous challenges it faces in trying to do so though the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. This module will introduce you to the core international crimes over which the International Criminal Court has jurisdiction as well as the Court’s main procedures. It will examine the relationship between the Court and its stakeholders such as member and non-member states, the United Nations Security Council and the African Union. Analysing the tension between the principles of truth, justice and peace and the pressures of realpolitik, this course will critically assess to what extent the ICC is able to achieve its aims and objectives.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • explaining the historical evolution of international criminal law, its structure, development and application before international and national courts;
  • explaining the essential elements of the crimes of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and how and whether these may be charged and prosecuted;
  • explaining the basic provisions of the procedural and evidentiary systems and the main problems of international criminal investigations;
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • demonstrate critical awareness of the relationships between international criminal law, its principles and mechanisms, and international law;
  • analyse the essential elements of international crimes in terms of the ways in which these have been charged and prosecuted before the courts;
  • apply the principles and rules of international criminal law to a practical case study;
  • critically evaluate the roles, rights and influences of various stakeholders such as the United Nations Security Council, the African Union, NGOs, member and non-member States to the Rome Statute.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • think critically about international dimensions and implications across a range of contexts;
  • engage and apply comparative and critical approaches to a wide variety of issues;
  • assess and evaluate competing and complementary solutions to the challenges of a globalised environment;


The following topics are indicative of those, which will be covered. This area is a very dynamic field and changes in content, order, name and scope of topics may be necessary from year to year to current developments. The precise content of the module in any particular year will be confirmed in a module overview document, which will be distributed via the course Blackboard site before the first lecture. The module will explore the developing field of international criminal law as it is being established by practice, including case-study discussion of the following aspects: • General principles of international criminal law • Prosecuting international crimes: international, hybrid & national criminal courts • Genocide • Crimes against humanity • War crimes • Crime of aggression • Evidence and international criminal investigation • Pre-trial procedures and jurisdiction • The international criminal trial and principles • Sentencing, penalties and reparations • Victim participation and witness protection • Political independence of the International Criminal Court • The relationship between the ICC and the UN, member states, non-member states and NGOs

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The module is taught by means of a weekly 2-hour lecture and fortnightly seminars. You will be expected to have read all materials assigned for a particular class and to take a full part in discussions about them. Preparation for and participation in the weekly lectures and seminars will develop: • the knowledge required to satisfactorily achieve the stated module learning outcomes • your understanding of the underlying issues • your ability to challenge widely held assumptions about law and legal decision making and how these impact on legal practice in a global context; • your ability to assess and comment critically on the effectiveness of others’ legal arguments and to discuss and defend your own argument in writing and orally; • your organisational and time management skills.

Completion of assessment task50
Wider reading or practice10
Preparation for scheduled sessions58
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

International Criminal Court.

Special Court for Sierra Leone.

R. Cryer. An Introduction to International Criminal Law and Procedure. 

Cassese (ed.). The Oxford Companion to International Criminal Justice. 

Cassese and P. Gaeta. Cassese’s International Criminal Law. 

Douglas Guilfoyle. International Criminal Law. 

W. A. Schabas. An Introduction to the International Criminal Court. 

International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.





MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Written assessment 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Written assessment 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:


As there is no set text for this module, you will not have to buy any of the books listed. They will be available via the Library and/or the Blackboard pages for this module.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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