LL417E      Half Unit
International Commercial Contracts: General Principles

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Jan Kleinheisterkamp NAB7.09


This course is available on the Executive LLM. This course is not available as an outside option.

This course will be offered on the Executive LLM during the four year degree period. The Department of Law will not offer all Executive LLM courses every year, although some of the more popular courses may be offered in each year, or more than once each year. Please note that whilst it is the Department of Law's intention to offer all Executive LLM courses, its ability to do so will depend on the availability of the staff member in question. For more information please refer to the Department of Law website.


Firm knowledge of contract law and/or international sales law from previous studies.

Course content

The course treats what can be called the general part of transnational contract law, i.e. the general principles of law which are of relevance in any kind of international contract, be it sale, construction, shipping, financing, or joint venture. These general principles relate to contractual formation and negotiations, interpretation, transversal general principles, changed circumstances and hardship, agency, third parties, assignment, self-help and set-off, direct performance and damages and penalties. At present, such contracts are governed either by uniform rules of international conventions or by the national laws applicable by virtue of conflict of law rules. The course puts the existing national and international solutions in a comparative perspective so as to work with the sources of such generally accepted principles. Where there are divergences between existing solutions, the course focuses on the elaboration of new efficient solutions that are internationally acceptable and have the potential of becoming general principles in the future. For these purposes, special attention is given to the UNIDROIT Principles on International Commercial Contracts and the European Principles of Contract Law. Other national laws, however, are drawn upon from time to time. Students are also encouraged, in both examination and classes, to reflect upon the similarities and differences between their own national laws and the UNIDROIT Principles.


24-26 hours of contact time.

Formative coursework

Students will have the option of producing a formative exam question of 2000 words to be delivered one month from the end of the module’s teaching session by email.

Indicative reading

S. Vogenauer & J. Kleinheisterkamp, Commentary on the UNIDROIT Principles of International Commercial Contracts (1st edn, OUP 2009); H. Kötz, European Contract Law (OUP 1997); K. Zweigert & H. Kötz, An Introduction to Comparative Law (3rd edn, OUP 1998); H. Beale et al., Ius Commune Casebook on the Common Law of Europe: Cases Materials and Text on Contract Law (2nd edn, OUP 2010); J. Gordley & A. von Mehren, An Introduction to the Comparative Study of Private Law: Readings, Cases, Materials (CUP 2006).


Assessment path 1
Essay (100%, 8000 words).

Assessment path 2
Take-home assessment (100%).

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: Law

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

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills