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Sovereignty & Statehood




Admissions requirements

There are no formal admission requirements. However, it is highly recommended that students have already taken the course Public International Law.


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 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 International 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

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. Students will work on assigned case studies.


  • In-class participation – 10% – Throughout course

  • In-class presentation. Students will be required to prepare a presentation in their respective groups on a case study – 20% – Once in week 3, 4, 5, or 6

  • In the week following their oral presentation, students must hand in a 1500 word individual research paper on the topic of their presentation – 30% – One week after in-class presentation

  • Final exam – 40% – Week 8


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

M. Shaw, International Law, 7th Edition, (2014) (‘Shaw’)


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


Dr. Darinka Piqani contact at


Information on the course and reading materials will be made available on time before the first class.

Furthermore, before the start of the course students should be familiar with concepts such as: sources of international law with special focus on customary international law; Peace of Westphalia; subjects of international law. Literature on this will be made available on Blackboard before the start of the course.