LL4E7      Half Unit
Investment Treaty Law

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. 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 introduces students to the investment treaty regime, understood to encompass: 1) investment treaties; 2) the rules and institutions governing investment treaty arbitration; and 3) the decisions of arbitral tribunals applying and interpreting investment treaties. The course begins by analysing the history, policy, and theoretical foundations of investment treaties. In the first part of the course, students will evaluate the political and economic effects of the regime, such as arguments about how investment treaties and cross-border investment inflows contribute positive effects on the growth of States.

In the second part of the course, students will examine the legal framework of investment treaties, including assessment of the relative and absolute standards of investment protection. A core objective of this course is for students to develop informed and critical assessments as to how foreign investment protections interact with host States’ values, interests, and practices.

To enforce treaty protections, most contemporary (but not all) investment treaties enable foreign investors to bring claims against host States to an international arbitral tribunal. In the third part of the course, students will examine the phases of, and main features of, investment treaty arbitration, as well as the prospects of annulment and judicial review of arbitral awards. Students will conclude the course by discussing wider issues about the value and legitimacy of the investment treaty regime, and the on-going reform of investment treaties and investment treaty arbitration.


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. Essential reading will generally include textbook assignments to introduce doctrine, as well as excerpts from treaties, and investor-State arbitral awards. The course will use legal and inter-disciplinary materials from political economy, international relations, history, and international development studies to explore topics in investment treaty law. Indicative textbooks include: C.L. Lim, et al., International Investment Law and Arbitration (2018); J. Bonnitcha et al., The Political Economy of the Investment Treaty Regime (2017).


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: 30

Average class size 2020/21: 15

Controlled access 2020/21: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills