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Social sciences and humanities

Subject: INTERNATIONAL LAW (A.A. 2022/2023)

single-cycle master degrees (5 years) in LAW

Course year 3
Teaching units Unit International Law
International Law (lesson)
  • TAF: Compulsory subjects, characteristic of the class SSD: IUS/13 CFU: 9
Teachers: Andrea CARCANO
Moodle portal
Exam type oral
Evaluation final vote
Teaching language ENGLISH
Contents download pdf download




This course is designed to provide students with a thorough knowledge of the structure of the international legal system, and the main norms and principles governing it. It teaches students to reflect on both the theory and practice of international law and to look at legal issues from different perspectives. It fosters a methodology for studying and researching in any branch of international law. The ultimate goal is to contribute to the formation of jurists that are competent, curious, and know how to learn further.

From a career standpoint, this course equips students with (some of) the knowledge and skills necessary to work in law firms engaged in transnational litigation, to embark in careers with international organisation or the diplomatic service; and/or to continue studying international law at the level of Masters (LL.M.) and doctoral programs.

Admission requirements

There are no prerequisites for this course.

Students are encouraged to follow international news on CNN or BBC World to hone out their listening skills.

Course contents

After an introduction on issues of methodology, aimed at reflecting on why and how to study public international law, the course shall focus on the following topics:

Part 1 (Creation of International Law and Its Subjects) CFU 3

I. Concept of International law;
II. Sources of International Law
III. Subjects of International Law
IV. Relationship between International and Municipal Law

Part 2 (Content of International Law: Limit and Enabling Device) CFU 3

IV. The Sovereignty of States over their Territory and their
V. Territorial Sea and other Maritime Zones
VI International Environmental Law
VII. International Human Rights Law

Part 3 (Effectiveness of International Law) CFU 3

VIII. International Criminal Justice
IX. Use or Threat of Force by States and the United Nations
X. The Judicial Protection of Human Rights (Jurisprudence
of the European Court of Human Rights)

Concluding Thoughts: Current Challenges to International Law.

Teaching methods

The course will be delivered in the Second Semester. Students are involved through questions and debates. Students will be assigned reading pages from the textbook in preparation of each class. Students must bring the textbook to classes. N.B.: No student shall be assessed or criticised for his or her level of English. The course is an opportunity to practice and improve the knowledge of the language. Gli interventi/domande degli studenti durante le lezioni possono essere fatti in lingua inglese o in lingua italiana a scelta dello studente.

Assessment methods

The questions of the exam will be based on the above-mentioned textbooks. Notes from classes are useful for understanding the issues discussed in the textbooks but are not part of the exam. The exam will be in oral form with the instructor of the course. There are no intermediate tests. The exam will take place on campus, compatibly with sanitary regulations and any consequent measures As a general rule, the exam consists of 3 questions and lasts 20-30 minutes. A student will be positively evaluated when he or she (i) demonstrates a non-superficial knowledge of the topics and norms discussed in the textbook and (ii) is able to speak with care demonstrating to have acquired a good knowledge of the relevant technical-juridical terminology. A student will be very positively evaluated when he or she (i) demonstrates an outstanding knowledge of the topics and norms discussed in the textbook; (ii) speaks with care and confidence, demonstrating to have acquired an outstanding knowledge of the relevant technical-juridical terminology; and (iii) develops cogent reasoning on the norms and topics discussed in the textbook and also during the classes (the latter is only for students attending the classes-frequentanti)

Learning outcomes

The taught classes and the discussions during the lectures will allow students to learn the key concepts and structure of international law, and to become familiar with the most relevant norms of international law and cases of historical significance. Importantly, as international law is both a theoretical and a practical discipline, students will learn how to examine practical problems in light of international law, and to look at issues from different perspectives.

In accordance with the 'Descrittori di Dublino', the teaching is directed to achieve the following objectives:

(I) Knowledge and Understanding
The student shall demonstrate to have acquired a good knowledge of the topics dealt with in the reference textbook.

(II) Independent and critical judgment
The student must be able to evaluate, analyze and re-elaborate independently and critically, on the basis of his / her own knowledge and ideas, the topics addressed and the problems that emerge.

(III) Comunication skills
The student must be able to express the acquired knowledge in a conscious and clear way, arguing his opinions in this regard in an articulated and critical way, even in contexts of dialogic argumentation.

(IV) Learning skills
The student must be able to assimilate and re-elaborate independently the information transmitted and the concepts illustrated and discussed during the course activities.


Students prepare the exam on the following two volumes (only the indicated pages):

1) James Crawford, ‘Brownlie's Principles of Public International Law’ (Oxford University Press 2019) 9th edition.

The pages of the book to be studied for the exam are:

pp. 3-202 (Introduction, Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8);
pp. 241-266 (Chapter 11)
pp. 336-350 (Chapter 15)
pp. 353-380 (Chapter 16)
pp. 431-439 (Chapter 20)
pp. 440-455 (Chapter 21)
pp. 610-664 (Chapters 29 and 30)
pp. 717-748 (Chapter 33).

2) Andrea Carcano, Notable Cases of the European Court of Human Rights on the Right to Life, (Giappichelli 2020).

The pages of the book to be studied for the exam are:

pp. 1-14 (Chapter 1)
pp. 159-200 (Chapter 5)

Both volumes are available for purchase at The second book (Notable Cases) is available also at juridical bookshops in Modena.