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Contemporary Issues - Privatissimum


Admission requirements

Admission to the PIL Masters programme.

Bound choice

All students must complete the Privatissimum course unless they have been selected to participate in the international humanitarian law clinic or one of the following moot court competitions:

  • International Criminal Court Trial Competition;

  • Kalshoven International Humanitarian Law competition;

  • Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition;

  • Telders Moot Court Competition.

Students who have been selected for the IHL clinic or a moot court competition will receive an exemption from (part of) the assessments for this course. Selection for the IHL clinic and the moot court teams is competitive. Moot court selection takes place in September, and IHL clinic selection takes place in September and February.


In this course we will investigate and discuss fundamental developments in contemporary public international law. The objective of the course is to engage students in a critical reflection at a theoretical level. The different tracks within the course will consider legal developments from different perspectives and positions, and students will learn to adopt a perspective and construct arguments that support it. The whole course relies on students’ own research, carried out within the theoretical framework that is provided. The background materials are not in themselves sufficient, and their only aim is to provide students with some preliminary information about the topic into which they must delve. Students must prepare the background materials for each class.

Course objectives

Objectives of the course
The course has the following objectives: to engage students in critical reflection at a theoretical level on the system of general public international law and on fundamental developments in this area.

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

After a successful completion of this course, the student has gained a thorough knowledge of the theoretical underpinnings of fundamental developments in current international law and a good picture of contemporary theoretical debates in legal scholarship and institutions.

Academic skills and attitude:
After a successful completion of this course, the student:

  • is able to write high quality papers on the theoretical aspects of complex legal issues;

  • is able to present and defend their findings, and to critically appraise the findings of other students;

  • is able to moderate a legal debate on particular issues.


Check MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction


  • 1 introductory lecture in the first week (2 hours).


  • Number of (2 hour) seminars: 7 (1 per week, starting from the second week of the course)

  • Names of lecturers: To be announced

  • Required preparation by students: for each seminar, students are required to read the recommended materials and conduct their own research. They are also required to submit written assignments in the designated weeks and to prepare the practical assignment and presentations in designated weeks.

  • Research papers must be submitted at the beginning of the respective week. Consult deadlines on Brightspace.

  • Attendance is mandatory. Missing one lecture or seminar is allowed for a valid reason; missing two – whatever the reason may be – means in principle that students are excluded from the course (there is no retake until next year’s course).

Assessment method

Examination form(s)

  • Students must submit 3 intermediate papers (total 30%) and one final paper (40%).

  • Students must prepare and take part in one practical exercise (10%).

  • Students must prepare and deliver 2 presentations (total 20%).

Please note that all papers and presentations are mandatory to pass the course. A fail for one part of the exam may be compensated by a pass for the other part; what is decisive is that the overall grade qualifies as a pass. If a student has not passed the course by the end of the academic year, partial grades are no longer valid.

(NB There is no written exam)

Submission procedures
Will be announced in class and on Brightspace.

Reading list

Obligatory course materials
Will be posted on Brightspace.

Course information guide:
Outline as posted on Brightspace.


Recommended course materials
To be announced on Brightspace.


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.  



  • Institution: Public Law

  • Division: Public International Law

  • Room number secretariat: KOG, B1.11

  • Telephone number secretariat: 071 527 7713/7723

  • E-mail: