LL4AD      Half Unit
Rethinking International Law: International Law and Contemporary Problems I

This information is for the 2015/16 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Gerry Simpson


This course is available on the Master of Laws and Master of Laws (extended part-time study). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

 This course is part of the Public International Law specialism.

This course is capped at 30 students. Students must apply through Graduate Course Choice on LSE for You.


There are no prerequisites. 

Course content

This course is designed for students who have already had some exposure to public international law and wish to deepen their understanding of the international legal dimensions of contemporary problems such as war; terrorism and counter-terrorism; governance; territory and statehood; humanity; and collective memory. Course readings will encompass both legal literature and writing by scholars from other disciplines, such as geography, anthropology, philosophy, and literary studies. The idea, then, is to acquire some sort of historically-situated understanding of the grammars of international law, the projects to which international lawyers commit, and the choices made and not made by international lawyers in the context of the institutional and everyday life of international law.


20 hours of seminars in the LT. 2 hours of seminars in the ST.

There will be a reading week in week 6. 

Formative coursework

One 2,000 word essay.

Indicative reading

Reading lists will be provided for each seminar on Moodle. Readings likely to be set include: Martti  Koskenniemi’s From Apology to Utopia: The Structure of International Legal Argument, (1989) and (2007, which contains an indispensable epilogue) and his The Gentle Civiliser of Nations (2002); Philip Allott, Eunomia (1997); David Kennedy’s Of Law and War, “Spring Break” and “The Move to Institutions”; Tony Anghie’s Sovereignty; Chris Reus-Smit’s The Moral Theory of the State; Carl Schmitt’s The Nomos of the Earth; James Crawford’s The Creation of States; Susan Marks’ The Riddle of all Constitutions (2003); Tom Franck’s Fairness in International Law (1995); Gerry Simpson’s, Law, War and Crime (2007); Martin Wight’s “Western Values”; and Sundhya Pahuja’s Decolonising International Law (2011). Crawford and Koskenniemi, The Cambridge Companion to International Law (2012) is the defining current collection of essays. Susan Marks’ edited volume, International Law on the Left, Fleur Johns et al, Events: The Force of International Law, and Anne Orford’s edited volume International Law and its Others, each contain some excellent work.


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.

Students are expected to have done the set reading and be willing to participate in seminar discussion.

Key facts

Department: Law

Total students 2014/15: 23

Average class size 2014/15: 25

Controlled access 2014/15: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills