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International Law



This course, which is geared in particular toward students of International Politics, centers on the politics of international law. It surveys the main debates, both classic and current, among International Politics scholars of international law. These debates concern, inter alia, the origins of international law; the (ir)relevance of international legal rules; the different types of international law (e.g. hard, soft and customary); compliance; the role of international courts as actors; and the growing backlash against international law, and human rights in particular. The course combines an emphasis on theoretical approaches and concepts with an exploration of empirical cases.

Course objectives

  • Students can demonstrate their knowledge of the main debates about the role of international law within International Relations. They are able set up a conversation between different theoretical approaches.

  • Students can categorize divergent strands and opinions on the connection between international law and international politics.

  • Students are able to explain and apply fundamental concepts of international law and human rights.

  • Students are able to debate, in an informed manner, the most important contemporary challenges that international law faces.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

Assessment takes the form of a three-hour final exam that consists of a mix of short-answer and essay questions.

Attendance of the lectures is not mandatory. However, the exam will concern material discussed in the readings and lectures. Presentation slides will be uploaded onto Blackboard after class. Students will be responsible for familiarizing themselves with the content of missed classes, for instance by consulting the slides and obtaining notes from fellow students.

In the exam, students will, inter alia, be expected to define core concepts; to associate arguments with specific authors and theoretical schools; and to demonstrate their knowledge of empirical examples. The exam is closed book. This means that notebooks, laptops or phones may not be brought to the exam.

20 Multiple-choice questions (40% of the end score);
2 Open ended essay questions (60% of the end score).

The time and location of inspection and debriefing of the exam will be announced via Brightspace no later than the publication of the grades

Reading list

The two instructors value some latitude in assigning course material. They are committed to teaching the same topics, ensuring that the courses are structured in the same manner. With a view to their differences in expertise and teaching visions, they would prefer, however, not to use exactly the same readings. The Dutch-language course (taught by Dr. Mos) relies on the textbook The Politics of International Law (Nicole Scicluna, OUP), with supplementary readings. The English-language course (taught by Dr. Hussain) relies on a compilation of book chapters and journal articles.

A detailed reading list can be found in the syllabus on Brightspace.


See tab 'Practical Information'.

Timetable - courses and exams



Martijn Mos. Email: