IR471      Half Unit
Critical International Law

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Jens Meierhenrich CBG.10.01


This course is available on the MSc in Gender, Peace and Security, MSc in Global Politics, MSc in International Affairs (LSE and Peking University), MSc in International Relations, MSc in International Relations (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in International Relations (Research), MSc in Theory and History of International Relations and MSc in Theory and History of International Relations. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

All students are required to obtain permission from the Teacher Responsible by completing the online application form linked to course selection on LSE for You. Admission is not guaranteed.

This course has a limited number of places (it is controlled access) and demand is typically high.

Course content

This taught graduate seminar introduces students to the theory and history of international accountability. Focusing on justice mechanisms from the Nuremberg, Tokyo, and Eichmann trials to the Waitangi Tribunal and international commissions of inquiry, and from the UN ad hoc tribunals to—especially—the International Criminal Court, the course inquires deeply into the violence of international law. Bringing critical international theory to bear, it blends methodological approaches from law, the social sciences and the humanities. By thinking critically about international law, the seminar raises––and answers––pertinent theoretical and empirical questions about the power—and pathologies—of international organizations. Paying special attention to the ICC’s ongoing investigations and prosecutions––its so-called Situations––the course exemplifies the politics of international law in the context of one of the most embattled international organizations in the international system.


This course is delivered through ten 2-hour seminars totalling a minimum of 20 hours across Lent Term. This year, some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of in-person classes/classes delivered online.

Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

Students are required to research and write one formative essay (1,000 words) due in Week 7 of Lent Term. Essays must be fully - and carefully - referenced using one of the major conventions consistently.

Indicative reading

Andrea Bianchi, International Law Theories: An Inquiry into Different Ways of Thinking (2016).

Clarke, Kamari Maxine, Affective Justice: The International Criminal Court and the Pan-Africanist Pushback (Durham: Duke University Press, 2019).

Richard Devetak, Critical International Theory: An Intellectual History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018).

Alexander Laban Hinton, The Justice Facade: Trials of Transition in Cambodia (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018).

Martti Koskenniemi, To the Uttermost Parts of the Earth: Legal Imagination and International Power 1300–1870 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021).

Jens Meierhenrich and Oliver Simons, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Carl Schmitt (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016).

Anne Orford, International Law and the Politics of History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021).

Kim Christian Priemel, The Betrayal: The Nuremberg Trials and German Divergence (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016).

Judith Shklar, Legalism: Law, Morals, and Political Trials (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1964).

Benjamin N. Schiff, Building the International Criminal Court (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008).

Prabhakar Singh and Benoit Mayer, eds., Critical International Law: Postrealism, Postcolonialism, and Transnationalism (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2014).


Essay (100%, 5000 words) in the ST.

Essays must be fully - and carefully - referenced using one of the major conventions consistently.

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: International Relations

Total students 2020/21: Unavailable

Average class size 2020/21: Unavailable

Controlled access 2020/21: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication