The University of Southampton

LAWS3101 International Criminal Law

Module Overview

The International Criminal Law module provides you with an opportunity to engage in detailed analysis of an emerging field of law, exploring how its basic concepts and principles have developed and how ‘international crimes’ have been established and addressed through the implementation and application of common standards and general principles of international law. Beginning with a historical and structural overview, taking account of the contribution to the development of international criminal law made by the Nuremberg and Tokyo International Military Tribunals, the module adopts a case-study approach to focus on more recent and significant structural developments within International Criminal Law; in particular, the emergence of ad hoc tribunals (International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda) and the International Criminal Court and the crimes over which it has jurisdiction. The module will focus on the working of the International Criminal Court and critically assess to what extent it is able to achieve its aims and objectives.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The International Criminal Law module aims to provide you with an opportunity to develop a critical awareness of the various legal, social and political strategies, mechanisms and institutions that have been developed to deal with crimes with an international or trans-national dimension and the new challenges that are emerging.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • explain the historical evolution of international criminal law, its structure, development and application before international and national courts
  • explain the essential elements of the crimes of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and how and whether these may be charged and prosecuted
  • explain the basic provisions of the procedural and evidentiary systems and the main problems of international criminal investigations
  • describe the roles and rights of witnesses and victims and the measures available for protection, compensation, reparation and restitution
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
  • conduct a piece of independent research under pressure of time


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 - 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 The case study approach (e.g. Rwanda, Bosnia and Herzegovina) provides a concrete factual basis for discussion of the application of legal principles and rules set out in the various aspects.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The module is taught by means of a weekly 2-hour seminar/lecture and fortnightly tutorials. You will be expected to have read/watched all materials/media assigned for a particular class and, where appropriate, to take a full part in discussions about them. Preparation for and participation in the weekly seminars and tutorials will develop: - the knowledge required to satisfactorily achieve the stated module learning outcomes; - 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 argument and to discuss and defend your own argument in writing and orally; - your ability to engage effectively with key legal research skills; - your organisational and time management skills.

Completion of assessment task50
Preparation for scheduled sessions64
Wider reading or practice10
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Cassese and P. Gaeta (2013). Cassese’s International Criminal Law. 

W. A. Schabas (2007). An Introduction to the International Criminal Court. 

W. A. Schabas (2009). The UN International Criminal Tribunals: The Former Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Sierra Leone. 

R. Cryer (2010). An Introduction to International Criminal Law and Procedure. 

W. A. Schabas (2009). Genocide in International Law: The Crime of Crimes. 

Cassese (ed.) (2009). The Oxford Companion to International Criminal Justice. 

International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

Special Court for Sierra Leone.

International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

G. Mettraux (2006). International Crimes and Ad Hoc Tribunals. 

International Criminal Court.

L. Sriram, O. Martin-Ortega and J Herman (2010). War, Conflict and Human Rights: Theory and Practice. 





MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (5000 words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (5000 words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (5000 words) 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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