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International Criminal Law


Admission requirements

Admission to the Masters programme.


This course is an advanced introduction to the field of international criminal justice as constituted by its rules, institutions, and practices. It covers major topics including the origins, definition, conceptual foundations, and sources of international criminal law (ICL); definitions of crimes; principles of individual criminal responsibility; the role of domestic courts in the enforcement of ICL; jurisdiction and immunities; the nature and structure of international criminal proceedings, and the role of different actors, in particular victims. Particular attention will be paid to the law and practice of modern international criminal tribunals, such as the ICTY, ICTR, and the ICC. The course will also provide a broader outlook on international criminal justice, its goals and deliverables as well as paradoxes and controversies propelling its development. This will equip the students with the capacity to orient themselves in the contemporary landscape of international criminal law, form informed and well-reasoned opinions on contentious matters, and assess current developments from a legal perspective. The course is linked to the research programme ‘Exploring the Frontiers of International Law’.

Course objectives

Objectives of the course
This course aims to provide students with a thorough understanding of the object and method of ICL as a branch of public international law and to endow them with a solid knowledge of substantive and procedural law applied by international criminal tribunals. After the successful completion of the course, the students will be familiar with the major and contemporary issues in ICL and will be able to reflect critically on the current developments in international criminal justice.

Achievement levels
The following achievement levels apply with regard to the course:

  • Knowledge: After successfully completing this course, the students will have a fair knowledge of the legal framework of international criminal law and of the case law of international criminal tribunals. The students will also be aware of the socio-political context in which international criminal tribunals operate and the unique challenges they are facing in implementing their mandates.

  • Academic skills and attitude: After successfully completing this course, the students will be able to identify, analyze, and interpret the relevant legal provisions and apply them to new factual situations. They will improve their analytical skills and learn how to critically engage with sources and develop solutions to legal problems.


The timetable of this course can be found on Blackboard.

Mode of instruction


  • The course is taught for 20 hours, over a period of 5 weeks, with two two-hour (interactive) lectures per week.

  • There will be one guest lecture by a prominent international criminal practitioner.

Other methods of instruction

Assessment method

Examination form(s)

  • The final grade will be based on the results of a written exam.

  • In relation to retakes: if the student fails the course, a retake is possible for any grade element for which a pass was not obtained.

  • Depending on the number of participants, the course coordinator may decide that retakes for the written exam will take the form of an oral examination. In that case, the relevant students will be notified in due course.

Regulation retake passed exams
In this course it is possible to retake an exam that has been passed (cf. art. and further of the Course and Examination Regulations), on the condition that this course is included in the compulsory components of the degree programme. Students who have passed the exam may retake the final written assessment (test) of the course. Please contact the Student Administration Office (OIC) for more information.

Areas to be tested within the exam
The written exam will test the students’ knowledge of the topics included in the course syllabus and covered in the required readings for the course and the (guest) lectures. The students are expected to know the legal framework and the case law of international criminal tribunals and to be able to apply law to facts and provide a proper and well-structured legal reasoning and persuasive arguments for any answers provided.


More information on this course is offered on Blackboard.

Reading list

Obligatory course materials

  • R. Cryer et al, International Criminal Law, 3rd ed. Cambridge 2014

  • Additional literature will be posted on Blackboard

  • No Reader will be provided, but students can use the Blackstone’s International Law Documents, 10th Edition.

Students can gain a maximum of 100 points during the written exam. At the exam, students are allowed to consult legal instruments (Statutes, Rules of Procedure and Evidence, Elements of Crimes, etc.), whether highlighted or not; slides of the lectures; their own notes; and print outs of judicial decisions. They may not use textbooks and print outs of academic articles. Electronic devices are prohibited.

Schedule of the written exam and retakes is to be announced.


Register on Blackboard.

Contact information

  • Co-ordinator: S. Vasiliev

  • Work address: KOG (Leiden)

  • Contact information: via email

  • Telephone number: 071-52777578 (secretary)

  • E-mail:


  • Institute: Public Law

  • Division: Public International Law

  • Room number secretariat: KOG, Office B1.21

  • Opening hours: 9.00-17.00 hrs

  • Telephone number secretariat: 071-5277578

  • E-mail: