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The University of Southampton

LAWS6157 Law of the World Trade Organization

Module Overview

The World Trade Organization is a key facilitator of globalisation. It provides the legal framework for the regulation of international trade in goods and services through the pursuit of progressive reduction in barriers to trade. Underpinned by binding dispute settlement, its rules constitute a significant body of Law, the effects of which are substantial both within international trade law and beyond. This module explores the economic rationale for the WTO, its governance, substantive rules and core principles. It also identifies, assesses and considers potential solutions to selected contemporary challenges facing the WTO. Some such challenges arise internally, for example relating to WTO decision-making and recent challenges to its dispute settlement. Further challenges are outward looking, including its relationship with other branches of international law such as international environmental and human rights law, and, increasingly, questions relating to its very legitimacy.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • The underpinning rationale, institutional framework and governance of WTO law and its relationship with the broader international legal order.
  • The core principles and concepts of WTO law and their application.
  • Selected contemporary challenges facing the WTO and its legal order.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Interpret, analyse and comment upon the application of the specific WTO rules studied and related jurisprudence, with reference to both its underpinning rationale, and factual situations.
  • Analyse and critique the governance, core principles and concepts of WTO law.
  • Evaluate potential solutions to current challenges facing the WTO.
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 written arguments and reference sources appropriately.


This module will examine: - the economic rationale underpinning the GATT/WTO and the WTO’s place in the international legal order - the legal and institutional framework and governance of WTO - the fundamental principles and key rules of the GATT, including the 'most favoured nation' and 'national treatment' rinciples; and principles of other selected WTO Covered Agreements - WTO Dispute Settlement - Contemporary challenges facing the WTO

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods: One 2-hour seminar per week Learning methods include: - Essential and additional directed reading, as per distributed reading lists reproduced on Blackboard; - Engagement with current legal or commercial developments to ensure that you can relate the material being discussed in class to contemporary controversies; - Preparing and writing formative coursework and self-reflection upon that process; - Preparing for summative assessment; - Class discussion (including entire class and group work)

Independent Study130
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

.. What is the WTO? International Economic Law and Policy Blog: Library resources including e-resources.

P. Van debn Bossche and W. Zdouc (2017). The Law and Policy of the Worled Trade Organisatin: Texts, Cases and Materials. 



Written assignment


MethodPercentage contribution
Open Book Exam  (48 hours) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Open Book Exam  (48 hours) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Open Book Exam  (48 hours) 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:


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(s) 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

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