LL4AE      Half Unit
Rethinking International Law: International Legal Thought

This information is for the 2017/18 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Gerry Simpson NAB 6.13


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.

Course content

This course builds on Rethinking International Law I: International Law and Contemporary Problems. The idea is to study the life of international law through its intellectual history, its presiding methods, its recurrent projects, its contemporary character and its utopian speculations. We will begin by teasing out a debate about the meaning of juridical humanity before turning to the problem of war through an examination of the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq War. There will be at least three seminars on international legal history and historiography where we will read international legal history (Jouannet, Megret, Craven, Anghie, Pahuja, Drew) alongside histories of political thought (Brett, Armitage, Wight, Hunter, Moyn) before going on to consider the different lives of international law (e.g. sentimental (Simpson) and anthropological (Eslava)). The course ends with a sympathetic engagement around utopian texts (Allott, 2016; Jameson, 2005; Vladimiri, 1417, Luxembourg, 1915).


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

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

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 a selection of international legal texts (including work-in-progress and "new authors") and readings from the fields of intellectual history, 18th century literature and political theory. The key works are by Koskenniemi, Anghie, Kennedy, Allott and Schmitt.


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours, reading time: 15 minutes) in the main exam period.

Key facts

Department: Law

Total students 2016/17: 10

Average class size 2016/17: 11

Controlled access 2016/17: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills