LL4AR      Half Unit
International Criminal Law: Core Crimes and Concepts

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Gerry Simpson NAB 6.13


This course is available on the LLM (extended part-time), LLM (full-time), MSc in Criminal Justice Policy, MSc in Human Rights and University of Pennsylvania Law School LLM Visiting Students. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course will be relevant to the following LLM specialisms: Criminology and Criminal Justice, Public International Law, Human Rights Law. This course is capped at 30 students.

Course content

The course looks at the rules, concepts, principles, institutional architecture, and enforcement of what we call international criminal law or international criminal justice, or, sometimes, the law of war crimes. The focus of the course is the area of international criminal law concerned with traditional “war crimes” and, in particular, four of the core crimes set out in the Rome Statute (war crimes, torture as a crime against humanity, genocide and aggression). It adopts a historical, philosophical and practical focus throughout, though the course is mainly directed at the conceptual problems associated with the prosecution of war criminals and, more broadly, legalised retribution. Attention, in this respect, will be directed towards the moral and jurisprudential dilemmas associated with bureaucratic criminality and individual culpability. Topics might include Pre-History (Vitoria, Grotius, Gentili, Cicero), Versailles, Nuremberg and Tokyo, the Trial of Adolf Eichmann, Crimes Against Humanity, the Crime of Aggression, Anti-Anti-Impunity, International Criminal Law’s Historical Method.


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

Gerry Simpson, Law, War and Crime, (2007).

Philippe Sands, East-West Street, (2017).

Georg Schwarzenberger, International Law and Totalitarian Lawlessness, (1943)

Judith Shklar, Legalism, (1964)

Maurice Hankey, Politics, Trials, Errors (1950)

Christine Schwobel,  Critical Approaches to International Criminal Law: An Introduction (2015)

Sam Moyn, The Last Utopia, (2010)

Mark Lewis, The Birth of the New Justice: The Internationalization of Crime and Punishment, 1919-1950 (2014).


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

Key facts

Department: Law

Total students 2018/19: 20

Average class size 2018/19: 21

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills