LL4AV      Half Unit
International Economic Law and Development

This information is for the 2023/24 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 no prerequisites and is intended to be both an introduction and a complement to other course offerings at LSE Law. Students with no previous background in public international law may find it helpful to consider consulting G. Hernandez, International Law (2019). Students with deeper interests in cross-border trade, international investment, international financial law and arbitration are encouraged to consider the intersection of this course with other course offerings.

This course has a limited number of places (it is controlled access) and demand is typically high. This may mean that you’re not able to get a place on this course.

Course content

The central aim of the course is to enable students to examine the interaction between international laws and institutions governing drivers of development, including cross-border trade, foreign aid, international lending, and foreign direct investment (understood in this course as global economic governance).

Students will study global economic governance through the analytical lens of development. We begin by clarifying and reflecting on different conceptions of development in legal and historical contexts (e.g. economic, institutional, sustainable). After that, we will investigate the various functions of “law” in international, transnational, and domestic economic orders. This investigation includes mapping the range of international, regional, and local actors and legal instruments governing the global economy. After that, we explore how international rules and institutions governing trade, foreign direct investment, foreign aid, and international lending impact various states’ growth and development strategies. To do so, we will compare multiple countries’ growth experiences to evaluate the successes and failures in international law and development, examining the roles of law and the state in their development approaches.

In the second half of the course, we utilise our theory work to appraise the role of international institutions in economic development in practice. We will explore emerging issues in the international economic order, such as injecting international rights into trade agreements, economic security policies, climate change, and the future of the data-driven economy. We will consider the advantages and disadvantages of global engagement by considering the relationships between politics, economics, and law in the work of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, the role of developing countries in the World Trade Organization, and why and how developing countries conclude investment treaties. Finally, we will diagnose the challenges with global economic governance based on our course reflections from the comparative studies of institutions and state development approaches.

Building upon our theoretical and cross-disciplinary studies, students will contextualise their studies against live debates about the resiliency of economic globalisation in the face of several international economic disruptions. Moreover, by the end of the course, students should be able to appraise academic and policy debates addressing the roles of international economic and financial institutions in encouraging, measuring, and facilitating development. Equally, students should be able to formulate reasoned arguments about international economic law-making for emerging global economic governance issues (such as development and digital technologies, climate change, and economic security).


This course will have two hours of teaching content each week in Winter Term. There will be a Reading Week in Week 6 of Winter Term.

Formative coursework

One 2,000 word formative essay during the course.

Indicative reading

LL4AV is an interactive course that encourages students to engage with theory, contemporary news (via reports, videos or podcasts), cross-disciplinary readings, and reflections on legal practice. There is no singular textbook for the course. Reading assignments are provided for each seminar on Moodle and draw from various primary and secondary source materials, accompanied by reading guides and handouts to enhance student participatory learning.

Indicative scholarly readings include primary materials, such as The World Bank’s Development Reports or Minutes of the General Council Meeting for the World Trade Organization. Additionally, indicative secondary sources include the following examples: A. Anghie, Imperialism, Sovereignty and the Making of International Law (2005); A. Roberts and N. Lamp, Six Faces of Globalization (2021); M.J. Trebilcock and M. Moto Prado, What Makes Poor Countries Poor? Institutional Determinants of Development (2011); 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); A. Santos et al., World Trade and Investment Law Reimagined: A Progressive Agenda for an Inclusive Globalization (2019); A. Sen, Development as Freedom (1999); 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); G. Shaffer, Emerging Powers and the World Trading System (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 spring exam period.

Key facts

Department: Law School

Total students 2022/23: 29

Average class size 2022/23: 29

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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