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MA in International Law and Politics

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  • Objectives
    The MA in International Law and Politics is one of a small number of advanced level taught programmes available in the UK which combines a broad and balanced knowledge of international relations theory with the study of public international law. The programme provides students with: • an appreciation of and ability to critically assess the key academic works relevant to the field of study; • a sound knowledge of the contemporary debates within the discipline of international relations; • a thorough grounding in the principles of Public International Law; and • an appreciation of the inter-related nature of international law and international politics. Taught jointly by the University's Department of Politics and International Studies and the Law School, both of which have long and distinguished reputations for teaching and research, the programme offers a broad range of optional modules in both law and politics, including political economy, strategic studies, international human rights law, the international law of trade and development, and many others. Students are also able to take advanced level options in research methodology and political analysis specifically designed for those wishing to progress to doctoral study. All students also complete a research dissertation which allows them to specialise further in their chosen area of study.
  • Academic Title
    MA in International Law and Politics
  • Course description
    Programme Structure


    IR Theory: Classical and Post-Classical Approaches

    (Semester 1)

    This module introduces students to different theoretical
    approaches in the study of International Relations (IR) and
    examines the extent to which these theories can offer
    explanations of, and practical guidance to, the
    contemporary international and political environment. IR
    is distinguished by the fact that it is one of the few areas
    amongst the Social Sciences and Humanities to have
    remained relatively unreconstructed by the recent
    changes in advanced social theory and philosophy.

    Until quite recently there were almost no philosophically
    informed studies of IR, though this has been modified in the
    last decade by the recognition that IR theory forms, in
    effect, a part of modern political theory.To that extent, the
    IR discipline has traditionally engaged - almost exclusively -
    in the study of relations between sovereign states, in effect
    dealing only with policy-oriented renditions of world
    politics. This course will address the conventional policy
    concerns and dilemmas, but it will do so from a critical
    perspective and with the expressed intention of moving
    beyond the sovereign, state-centric frameworks of IR.

    Public International Law (Semester 1)

    This module provides students with a systematic and
    advanced understanding of the principles, rules, institutions
    and processes of international law, enabling them to locate
    the application of international law within its social and
    political contexts. The module is designed to stimulate a
    critical awareness of the functioning of contemporary
    international law, to develop a conceptual understanding of
    the theory and practice of international law and to develop
    a comprehensive understanding of research techniques in
    the field of international law.

    The contents of the module are: the nature and
    development of international law; customary international
    law; treaty law; international legal subjects and participants;
    international legal responsibility; jurisdiction in international
    law; recognition and legitimacy; legal controls on the use of
    force; international dispute settlement; and international law
    in domestic jurisdictions.

    IR Theory: Practical Applications and Case Studies

    (Semester 2)

    This module builds upon the theoretical foundations of
    the IR Theory: Classical and Post-classical Approaches
    module, and demonstrates to students how the
    theoretical framework there provided can be applied to
    practical situations.The module seeks to demonstrate the
    inter-related nature of political, legal, moral and strategic
    discourse through a series of five 'role play' case studies.

    An examination will be undertaken of the way in which
    states and/or other actors attempt to explain and justify
    policies. Often reference will be made to strategic
    interest, international law and/or morality. In particular
    students will be asked to consider the extent to which the
    'facts of the case' appear to support the explanation and
    justification of the policy in question.Students can chose
    from a list of options that at present includes but is not
    restricted to the following:

    International Environmental Law I & II
    International Human Rights Law I & II
    • Law of the Sea
    International Law of Trade and Development I & II
    • Strategic Thought I & II
    • Democratic Values and International Law
    • International Environmental Law II
    International Law of Armed Conflict II
    • European Community Law
    • The EU - Political Integration and Policy Analysis
    • European Union - National and International

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