Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton

LAWS6152 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 international institutional framework of ocean law and its relevance and impact on international maritime relationships among coastal States and other States as they vary among the maritime zones.
  • The political, economic and military reasons driving the present rules in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
  • Areas of current controversy arising from the changing uses of the sea.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Source, interpret and analyse relevant legal material on the international law of the sea.
  • Identify, evaluate and apply the key legal principles in solving complex international disputes engaging the international law of the sea.
  • Identify and critically evaluate key legal and policy issues arising under UNCLOS in their political and economic contexts and possible policy responses.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Undertake independent research and access primary and secondary sources effectively.
  • Analyse complex written texts and evaluate different types of arguments.
  • Construct arguments and solve problems based on premises drawn from various sources.
  • Communicate arguments effectively and reference sources appropriately.


Use and control of maritime areas is an important aspect of international affairs with consequences for, amongst other things, international trade, navigation, exploitation of natural resources and protection of the environment. The International Law of the Sea module taught at Southampton is a specialist topic which concentrates on the public 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 UNCLOS and related treaties. The module 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 thematic issues such as fisheries and the dispute settlement system in Part XV of UNCLOS 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), the delimitation of maritime boundaries.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

One 2-hour class per week which - depending on the number of students enrolled in the module - consists of: - a 2-hour seminar OR - a three-weekly cycle of two 2-hour lectures and one 2-hour seminar, or a variation thereof. Learning methods include: - essential and additional directed reading, as per distributed reading lists reproduced on Blackboard; - engagement with current legal or political developments to ensure that you can relate the material being discussed in class to contemporary controversies

Independent Study260
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

M. Evans (ed) (2018). Blackstone's International Law Documents. 

Y Tanaka (2015). The Internatiional Law of the Sea. 

M. Evans (ed) (2018). International Law. 

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



Essay or problem question


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (4500 words) 50%
Essay or problem question  (4000 words) 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (4000 words) 50%
Essay or problem question  (4000 words) 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (4000 words) 50%
Essay or problem question  (4000 words) 50%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: 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