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Theory of International Law

This module is aimed at those wanting to understand the role of theory in the conceptualisation and development of international law as well as its role in legal interpretation and decision-making. It will cover all main theoretical schools of thought, from the early development of international law as 'natural law' through to the positivism, realism and critical approaches of the past decades. The module will investigate the impact of theory in discreet areas of international law such as war law and human rights.

Students taking this module will learn to distinguish and evaluate the various theoretical schools of thought and their emergence at specific points in history. Students will learn to assess what different outcomes in legal decision-making would be result from the adoption of such different theoretical stances, and to recognise which theoretical approaches underpin specific developments in discreet areas of law.