LL4AS      Half Unit
International Criminal Law: Prosecution and Practice

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Devika Hovell


This course is available on the LLM (extended part-time), LLM (full-time), 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 has a limited number of places and we cannot guarantee all students will get a place.

Course content

This course examines the practice and procedure of international criminal law. Rather than examining the history and core crimes, the course focuses on the law, theory and politics impacting the process of legalised retribution entailed in the prosecution of international crimes. The course aims to provide opportunity for critical thought and analysis of the concept of international criminal responsibility and the various fora developed for the prosecution of international crimes, including the ad hoc tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, ‘hybrid’ tribunals such as the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, the Special Court for Sierra Leone and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Yugoslavia and domestic prosecution using the concept of universal jurisdiction. Over half the course will centre on the International Criminal Court, focusing in particular on questions, theory and case law surrounding modes of liability, immunities, defences and state cooperation. While we will take historical, theoretical and critical approaches to such questions, the aim is also to provide the opportunity to examine current contemporary challenges and controversies affecting the practice and procedure of international criminal law.


This course will have two hours of teaching content each week in Michaelmas Term, either in the form of a two hour seminar or an online lecture and one hour class. There will be a Reading Week in Week 6 of Michaelmas Term.

Formative coursework

One 2,000 word essay.

Indicative reading

Reading lists will be provided for each week’s seminar on Moodle. Indicative reading includes Jose Alvarez, ‘Crimes of States/Crimes of Hate: Lessons from Rwanda’ (1999) 24 Yale Journal of International Law 365; Henry Kissinger, ‘The Pitfalls of Universal Jurisdiction’, Foreign Affairs (July 2001); Darryl Robinson, ‘Inescapable Dyads: Why the International Criminal Court Cannot Win’ (2015) 28 Leiden Journal of International Law 323; Sara Kendall and Sarah Nouwen, 'Representational Practices: The Gap Between Juridified and Abstract Victimhood' (2013) 76(3) Law and Contemporary Problems 235. Students may wish to refer to Robert Cryer et al., An Introduction to International Criminal Law and Procedure (Cambridge, 2019), 4th edition.


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

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