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Digital Technology & International Law


Admission requirements

Required courses:

Principles of Public International Law or permission from the instructor.

Recommended courses:

International & Regional Human Rights


Emerging as a new domain of human interaction in the second half of the twentieth century, digital technology has become increasingly woven into the fabric of societies around the world. In this course, we will examine how international law addresses the governance challenges of the digital age. Examining a diversity of topics, such as state responsibility for different types of hostile cyber operations, online platform governance, autonomous weapons systems, and artificially intelligence governance, this course invites students to critically reflect on global governance challenges at the intersection of digital technology and international law.

Course Objectives


  • Understand the challenges and uncertainties that arise concerning the application of the international legal framework on State responsibility to different types of cyber operations

  • Critically reflect on the challenges of online platform governance, including content moderation, online political microtargeting, and data surveillance

  • Develop an insight into emerging governance challenges associated with new technologies, including artificial intelligence and autonomous weapons systems


  • Apply legal research and writing skills to a topical issue or case at the intersection of digital technology and international law

  • Critically examine, orally present and nurture discussions on tensions and challenges related to digital technology and international law

  • Creatively and collectively develop a short course on a thematic area related to digital technology and international law


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2020-2021 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

This course uses a variety of teaching methods, including interactive lectures, student-led class debates, research assignments, and student presentations. Before each class students are required to have read the compulsory readings and considered any accompanying discussion questions in preparation for the session. Active participation in class is expected. In-class debates will be based on analysis of thematic issues and concrete cases at the intersection of digital technology and international law.

Assessment Method

  • Class Participation – 12%

  • Critical Debate Leadership – 18%

  • Innovate Digital Technology & International Law Education – 30% (18% for syllabus; 12% for presentation)

  • Research Paper – 40%

Please note:

  • In accordance with article 4.8 of the Course and Examination Regulations (OER), within 30 days after the publication of grades, the instructor will provide students the opportunity to inspect their exams/coursework.

  • There is a no re-sit policy at Leiden University College.

Reading list

The list of course materials will be made available prior to the start of the course.

For background reading, the following texts are recommended:

  • Tsagourias, N, and Buchan, R (eds), Research Handbook on International Law and Cyberspace (Edward Elgar 2015)

  • Schmitt, M.N. and Vihul, L. (eds), Tallinn Manual 2.0 on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Operations (CUP 2017)

  • Milan, S, and Treré, E (eds), ‘Special Issue: Big Data from the South’ (2019) 20 Television & News Media 319

  • Delarue, F, Cyber Operations and International Law (CUP 2020)

  • Land, MK, and Aronson, JD (eds), New Technologies for Human Rights Law and Practice (CUP 2018)

  • Cohen, JE, Between Truth and Power: The Legal Constructions of Informational Capitalism (OUP 2019)

  • Jørgensen, RF (ed), Human Rights in the Age of Platforms (MIT Press 2019)

  • Tufekci, Z., Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest (Yale University Press 2017)

  • Deibert, R., Reset: Reclaiming the Internet for Civil Society (House of Anansi Press 2020)


Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator, course.administration@luc.leidenuniv.nl.


Dr Barrie Sander, b.j.sander@luc.leidenuniv.nl