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Principles of Public International Law


Admission requirements

Required course(s):



This course is an introduction to the field of public international law. The course covers major topics in this field, including sources of international law (treaties and customary international law); subjects (States and international organizations); the law of State responsibility; the prohibition on the use of force; and international dispute settlement. The course emphasizes learning how to read and understand international law instruments, such as multilateral treaties and judgments of the International Court of Justice.

Week 1
Lecture 1: Introduction
Lecture 2: Introduction

Week 2
Lecture 1: Subjects of International Law
Lecture 2: Subjects of International Law

Week 3
Lecture 1: Sources of International Law
Lecture 2: Sources of International Law

Week 4
Lecture 1: Fundamental principles of international law
Lecture 2: Fundamental principles of international law

Week 5
Lecture 1: State responsibility
Lecture 2: State responsibility

Week 6
Lecture 1: State jurisdiction and immunities
Lecture 2: State jurisdiction and immunities

Week 7
Lecture 1: International Dispute Settlement
Lecture 2: International Dispute Settlement (flexible focus)

Week 8

Course Objectives

  • Students will have a basic understanding of major topics in the field of public international law.

  • They will be able to identify the international legal implications of current world events as reported in the media.

  • Students will be able to identify, explain, and discuss relevant international legal rules and the facts and legal reasoning of judgments.

  • Students will also be able to apply and interpret treaty provisions and other legal rules. Students will, in particular, develop the ability to apply legal rules to a given set of facts.

  • This course aims to prepare students for further studies within the International Justice major at LUC.


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2023-2024 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

Classes will consist of both lectures and presentations on and discussions of assigned judgments. Students are required to have read the relevant section of the textbooks (see ‘Literature’ section below), the assigned excerpts from judgments, and any other additional reading.

Assessment Method

Assessment: Short essay
Learning aim: Identifying international legal implications of world events
Percentage: 15%
Deadline: Week 2

Assessment: Presentation and class participation
Learning aim: Explain and discuss legal rules, concepts, and judgments; describing facts and explaining legal reasoning
Percentage: 15%
Deadline: Weeks 1-7

Assessment: Take-home essay/case note
Learning aim: Applying legal rules to novel factual scenarios; developing legal writing skills
Percentage: 30%
Deadline: Week 5

Assessment: Final examination
Learning aim: Comprehensive understanding of the course materials
Percentage: 40%
Deadline: Week 8

Reading list

  • Cecily Rose et al., An Introduction to Public International Law (Cambridge University Press 2022);

  • T.M.C. Asser Institute (ed), Elementary International Law (T.M.C. Asser Institute (most recent edition)).


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,


Dr. Anna Marhold (Block 1)
Dr. Brian McGarry (Block 2)
Dr. Giulia Pinzauti (Block 3)
Dr. Jens Iverson (Block 4)