LL4AV      Half Unit
International Economic Law and Development

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Mona Paulsen


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


None. The course will provide students with a brief background in international economic law, however students may also find it helpful to take International Trade Law (LL4B1) and Investment Treaty Law (LL4E7).

Students will benefit from an introduction into the foundations of public international law. Students with no previous background in public international law may find it helpful to consider consulting a standard textbook such as M. Evans (ed.), International Law (OUP, 5th ed., 2018) or J. Crawford, Brownlie’s Principles of Public International Law (OUP, 9th ed., 2019).

Course content

This course concerns itself with how international trade, investment, and financial law and its institutions (collectively, international economic law) shapes economic development. It is designed for law students seeking a deeper understanding of international economic governance and development in the international political economy. Students will engage with approaches both within legal literature and in the social sciences. Accordingly, readings will introduce students to development topics in different analytical and theoretical ways, including third world approaches to international law, international development, history, and political economy. Such interdisciplinarity is, nevertheless, grounded in legal inquiry. A core learning outcome of the course is to encourage students to think harder about and to explore the legal – but also the economic, historical, and international relations – dimensions of the relationship between international economic law and development. Conversely, this course also strives to place development at the centre of a discussion about international economic law.

The course is divided into three parts. The course begins with the contested definition of development, with students unpacking different theories for both conceptualising and measuring development. Thereafter, students will critically analyse the issues and debates within the academic field of law and development. In the second part, students will explore the architecture of the international economic law order, with in-depth focus on its institutions (e.g., the International Monetary Fund, World Bank Group, World Trade Organisation, and the investment treaty regime) and explanations for different states’ developmental successes and failures over time. The final part of the course is devoted to a closer scrutiny of the roles of law within states’ developmental strategies, with consideration of the plurality of interests and concerns impacted as within each of those states. It is in this final part of the course that students will probe how international economic institutions can (or should) intervene in novel questions about sustainable development pathways.


This course will have two hours of teaching content each week in Lent 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 Lent Term.

Formative coursework

One 2,000 word formative essay during the course.

Indicative reading

Reading lists will be provided for each seminar on Moodle. Relevant readings may include: A. Anghie, Imperialism, Sovereignty and the Making of International Law (2005); M.J. Trebilcock and M. Moto Prado, What Makes Poor Countries Poor? Institutional Determinants of Development (2011); J. Bacchus, The Willing World (2018); J. Sachs, The Age of Sustainable Development (2015); J. Bonnitcha et al., The Political Economy of the Investment Treaty Regime (2017); L. Eslava, Local Space, Global Life: The Everyday Operation of International Law and Development (2015); A. Narlikar, Power Narratives and Power Paradoxes in International Trade Negotiations and Beyond (2020);  D. Rodrik, The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of the World Economy (2011); A. Santos et al., World Trade and Investment Law Reimagined: A Progressive Agenda for an Inclusive Globalization (2019); A. Sen, Development as Freedom (1999); J. Stiglitz, ‘Dealing with Debt: How to Reform the Global Financial System’ (2003) 25 Harvard International Review 54; C. Thomas, “Law and Neoclassical Economic Development in Theory and Practice: Toward an Institutionalist Critique of Institutionalism” Cornell Law Review, Vol. 96, No. 967 (2011); K.E. Davis & M.J. Trebilcock. ‘The Relationship between Law and Development: Optimists versus Skeptics’ 56 (2008) American Journal of Comparative Law 895; N. Woods, The Globalizers: The IMF, the World Bank, and their Borrowers (2012); H. Wang, “The Belt and Road Initiative Agreements: Characteristics, Rationale and Challenges,” World Trade Review (2021); M. Erie, “Chinese Law and Development” 61(1) Harvard International Law Journal (2021); and, S. Pahuja, Decolonising International Law; Development, Economic Growth and the Politics of Universality (2011).


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: 25

Average class size 2020/21: 13

Controlled access 2020/21: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information