nl en

Sovereignty & Statehood




Admissions requirements



This course examines the role of sovereignty and statehood in today’s world order. It begins with an overview of the history of statehood, covering colonialism, de-colonisation and self-determination. Students will gain a firm understanding of the historical, legal and political foundations of sovereignty, and the role and function of statehood in international law and international relations. The lectures will introduce key concepts such as: the legal personality of states; the criteria, forms and attributes of statehood; the recognition of emerging states; state immunity; and state responsibility. The lecture material is contextualised in the second part of the course through a series of case studies. These provide practical, present-day examples of the tensions between sovereignty, statehood and international intervention.

Sovereignty and Statehood is the first in a trilogy of courses in the Global Justice Major. It lays the foundations for success in the upper level courses in the Major, by developing the skills necessary to form independent and well-founded opinions on the central questions of contemporary international law.

Course objectives

This course will provide a broad perspective on the fields of international law and international relations through an exploration of their defining principles. Students will be invited to reflect on the modern day manifestations of sovereignty and statehood, as well as on the fragmented and conditional nature of sovereignty today.

After successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Understand the origins and development of the notion of sovereignty and how it relates to statehood;

  • Discuss the history of statehood and the impact that the eras of colonialism, decolonisation and globalisation have on sovereignty and statehood;

  • Appreciate the ramifications of changes in geopolitical landscapes;

  • Identify relevant legal limitations on political decision-making practices;

  • Understand contributing historical and socio-political factors that shape decision-making in global affairs;

  • Analyse international treaties and legal judgments in order to critique the outcomes of international disputes;

  • Develop and present sophisticated and coherent arguments both orally and in writing.


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

The course consists of interactive lectures to accustom students with the preparatory readings and to position the weekly topics, themes, and readings in the overall context of the course.

Each week has two classes; each class consists of 2 parts. The first part of each lecture will be an interactive lecture on sovereignty and statehood generally or on a specific issue pertaining to these themes. In preparation for this part of the class, students will be expected to have read the assigned literature in addition to other optional readings, which will be made available via the electronic learning environment. In the second part of the class, students will be expected to participate in a dynamic fashion through considering a series of reflection questions that will help them engage more with the topic under discussion.

As the course moves away from the general introduction and the core principles of sovereignty and statehood, the second lecture of each week will involve an in-depth analysis of case studies. The case studies have been selected to illustrate the themes and problems introduced in the first lecture of that week. Each case study session will begin with a short introduction to the case study, followed by two student presentations. Students will give a presentation on an aspect of the case study, with a subsequent discussion facilitated by the students. One week after their presentation, students will be required to submit a discussion paper on their presentation topic. When not presenting, students are expected to contribute actively to all group discussions.


In-class Participation, 10%;
In-class Group Presentation, 20%;
Research paper on case studies, 30%;
Final Exam, 40%.


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list



This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Curriculum Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact


Alexandros Sarris,