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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); the definitions of the four core crimes; the principles of individual criminal responsibility; the role of domestic courts in the enforcement of ICL; issues of 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, SCSL, STL, KSC 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

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.

At the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate fair knowledge of the legal framework of international criminal law and of the case law of international criminal tribunals;

  • Show awareness of the socio-political context in which international criminal tribunals operate and the unique challenges they are facing in implementing their mandates;

  • Identify, analyse, and interpret the relevant legal provisions and apply them to new factual situations;

  • Improve their analytical skills and learn how to critically engage with sources and develop solutions to legal problems.


Check MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction


  • Number of (2 hour) lectures: 5

  • Names of lecturers: Dr. Robert Heinsch

  • Required preparation by students: reading the prescribed material

  • There may be one or two guest lecture(s) by a prominent international criminal law practitioner.

Working Groups

  • Number of (2 hour) working groups: 5

  • Names of instructors: Dr. Robert Heinsch

Required preparation by students: prepare the prescribed assignments (see Brightspace for more information)

Assessment method

Examination form(s)

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

  • There is a possibility of a written retake in case the student fails the written exam and, subject to certain conditions, when a passing grade is obtained.

  • The course coordinator may decide that retakes for the written exam will take form of an individual oral exam, in particular in case of the students who commenced their studies in February.

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.

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). Students who have passed the exam may retake the final written assessment (test) of the course if they meet certain requirements. To retake a passed exam, students need to ask the Student Administration Office (OIC) for permission. For more information, go to 'course and exam enrollment' > 'permission for retaking a passed exam' on the student website.

Reading list

Obligatory course materials

Mandatory literature:

  • R. Cryer et al, An Introduction to International Criminal Law and Procedure, 4th ed., Cambridge 2019

  • R. Cryer, International Criminal Law Documents, 1st ed., Cambridge 2019

  • Additional literature will be posted on Brightspace

  • A Reader will be provided in case the International Criminal Law Documents book is not available at bookstores

Students can gain a maximum of 100 points during the written exam. At the exam, students are only allowed to consult legal instruments (Statutes, Rules of Procedure and Evidence, Elements of Crimes, etc.). They may NOT use textbooks and print outs of academic articles (closed book exam). Electronic devices are prohibited.

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


Registration for courses and exams takes place via MyStudymap. If you do not have access to MyStudymap (guest students), look here (under the Law-tab) for more information on the registration procedure in your situation.  



  • Institute: Public Law

  • Division: Public International Law

  • Room number secretariat: KOG, Office B1.11

  • Telephone number secretariat: 071-5277713/7723

  • E-mail: