Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton

LAWS6062 International Law of the Sea

Module Overview

To introduce the key principles of the public international law of the sea.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • the rights and duties of coastal States and other States in each of the maritime zones in the law of the sea;
  • the political, economic and military reasons underlying the present rules in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS);
  • challenges from the changing uses of the sea and the sorts of adaptive rules that might in future be needed;
  • the dispute settlement system of UNCLOS and its variants in related treaties.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • isolate and analyse the international legal issues in factual problems of ocean use and regulation;
  • describe the varying and overlapping interests of prominent States in the uses of the sea and trace their impact on the law as it has developed;
  • evaluate the effect the legal rules are having on the underlying policy problems, and vice versa;
  • suggest ways in which the law needs to be developed in order to solve those problems.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • state legal principles and write clear and concise legal advice on problems raising issues of the public international law of the sea, applying enhanced problem-solving skills to unfamiliar fact situations;
  • identify, analyse and critically evaluate different types of legal and policy arguments drawn from a variety of judicial and academic sources;
  • access and use primary and secondary sources of law effectively in the construction of legal argument and access and correctly reference such sources of the law of the sea in paper and/or electronic format;
  • analyse complex written texts;
  • communicate legal arguments orally and/or in writing;
  • undertake independent research.


Use and control of maritime spaces is an important aspect of international affairs with consequences on, amongst other things, international trade, navigation, exploitation of natural resources and protection of the environment. The International Law of the Sea course taught at Southampton is a specialist topic which concentrates on the public aspects of international law concerning the control and use of the sea. It considers the general format of international regulation, prescription, enforcement and dispute resolution, particularly in the light of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and related treaties. The course provides a useful important background to maritime law and to international marine policy. Because you may not have studied public international law before, a little time is usually spent at the beginning of the unit outlining the basic principles of international law. Most of the unit is devoted to a consideration of the rules, history and rationale of the maritime zones known to the modern law of the sea, starting closest to land where the international element is smallest (internal waters) and observing the increasing growth and complexity of that element as we move progressively seaward (territorial sea, archipelagic waters, contiguous zone, exclusive economic zone, continental shelf, high seas, seabed area beyond national jurisdiction). Finally, we look at the dispute settlement system in Part XV of the Convention, which as we will see also indirectly fulfils a substantive function, and, time permitting (more likely in years when students’ background makes the introduction to international law unnecessary – a point you are encouraged to bear in mind in selecting your other options and half-options), the delimitation of maritime boundaries.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: • 2 introductory lectures • thereafter 2 seminars per week. Learning activities include: • Background reading for the seminars • Participating in class discussions • Preparation and delivery of at least one presentation per student. • Accessing on-line resources through legal databases and the unit Blackboard site

Independent Study260
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

Y. Tanaka (2019). The International Law of the Sea. 

Blackstone's International Law Documents. 

L.B. Sohn et al (2014). Cases and Materials on the Law of the Sea. 



Essay or problem question


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay or problem question  (4500 words) 50%
Essay or problem question  (4500 words) 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay or problem question  (4500 words) 50%
Essay or problem question  (4500 words) 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay or problem question  (4500 words) 50%
Essay or problem question  (4500 words) 50%

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:


Recommended texts for this module may be available in limited supply in the University Library and students may wish to purchase the mandatory/additional reading text as appropriate.

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

Share this module Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo
Privacy Settings