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Exploring the boundaries of international law

This module considers the complexities of international law in the twenty-first century by exploring the evolving role and function of international law in the modern world. You will start by considering the nature and development of the principles of international law before examining the role played by international organisations and non-governmental organisations. You will then focus on areas that challenge the application and effectiveness of the principles of international law such as security issues and humanitarian interventions and consider international law in its wider context. The module uses contemporary case studies to explore the boundaries of international law.

Qualifications

W821 is a compulsory module in our:

W821 is an optional module in our:

Postgraduate Loans 

If you study this module as part of an eligible qualification, you may be eligible for a Postgraduate Loan. For more information, see Fees and funding.

Excluded combinations

Sometimes you will not be able to count a module towards a qualification if you have already taken another module with similar content. To check any excluded combinations relating to this module, visit our excluded combination finder or check with an adviser before registering.

Module

Module code
W821
Credits

Credits

  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
30
Study level

Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU postgraduate modules correspond to these frameworks.

OU Postgraduate
SCQF 11
FHEQ 7
Study method
Distance learning
Find out more in Why the OU?
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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What you will study

In this 30-credit module you will examine some of the key challenges to the operation of international law in a contemporary setting. You will consider the evolution of the international legal system and the broader context in which it operates, including its contribution to the development of the international community. You then focus on emerging issues. The nature and effectiveness of the protection of the individual, in the context of humanitarian interventions and human rights, are considered as is the increasing significance of a range of security issues affecting the national and international community. You also explore the development of the concept of individual criminal responsibility and issues of accountability of individuals in an international context.

During your studies you will develop and consolidate a range of important postgraduate legal skills. Your studies will require you to critically engage with complex legal issues in the international environment. You will also learn to develop arguments based on evidence and interrogate case studies to form reasoned judgements. Throughout the module you will undertake evaluation and synthesis of new and complex concepts and information within an international and multidisciplinary environment. You will learn to communicate your findings and conclusions effectively. You will also develop your ability to undertake independent learning and research and analyse complex issues systematically and creatively.

You can take this module on its own or as part of our Master of Laws qualification.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor, with who you can contact by email or telephone, who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. Your tutor will also run online tutorials, that you are encouraged, but not obliged, to take part in.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.

Assessment

The assessment details can be found in the facts box above.

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper. The eTMAs are scheduled at regular intervals. Extensive guidance is given on all assignments submitted.

You must submit the end-of-module assignment (EMA) electronically.

Course work includes

2 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

Course satisfaction survey

See the satisfaction survey results for this course.

Future availability

Exploring the boundaries of international law starts once a year – in May. This page describes the module that will start in May 2019. We expect it to start for the last time in May 2021.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Essential Documents website.

    Entry requirements

    To register for this module you must have an honours degree from a UK university or equivalent. Various higher education and professional qualifications are considered equivalent to an honours degree. If you hold a qualification that you believe is an equivalent level to a UK honours degree or if you lack formal academic qualifications but have relevant work experience, please speak to an adviser.

    The module is taught in English, and your spoken and written English must be of an adequate standard for postgraduate study. If English is not your first language, we recommend that you seek assessment under the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Please see their website for details.

    If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please contact us.

    Register

    Start End England fee Register
    04 May 2019 Oct 2019 £1360.00

    Registration closes 18/04/19 (places subject to availability)

    Register
    This module is expected to start for the last time in May 2021.

    Future availability

    Exploring the boundaries of international law starts once a year – in May. This page describes the module that will start in May 2019. We expect it to start for the last time in May 2021.

    Additional costs

    Study costs

    There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a laptop, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

    Ways to pay

    We know there’s a lot to think about when choosing to study, not least how much it’s going to cost and how you can pay.

    That’s why we keep our fees as low as possible and offer a range of flexible payment and funding options. To find out more see Fees and funding.

    Study materials

    What's included

    As well as individual support from a tutor you will have university library access (including access to legal databases), specially-written study materials designed exclusively for this module, audio-visual material and access to a dedicated W821 website. You will also have access to the LLM Qualification website.

    Computing requirements

    A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module.  Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

    Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

    A desktop or laptop computer with either:

    • Windows 7 or higher
    • macOS 10.7 or higher

    The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

    To participate in our online-discussion area you will need both a microphone and speakers/headphones. 

    Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students. 

    If you have a disability

    As this module is designed to only be studied online, a large number of the module features (video, audio, quizzes, links etc) will only work online. The module web site is designed by the University to be compatible with the main screen readers and in addition a number of alternative format versions of the module units are available on the web site. PDF files are not part of this standard provision of alternative formats on online module as the other formats are considered more widely accessible. There is no printed material designed for this module.

    Written transcripts of any audio components are available.  Alternative formats of the study materials are available on the module web site.

    This module includes a requirement to undertake online research and the use of online forums; consequently time you spend using a computer and the internet maybe extensive. If you use assistive technology or have a hearing or speech impairment and have concerns about accessing this type of virtual environment and materials you can visit the system provider's website for information and contact The Open University to discuss it further before registering.

    If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Find out more about our services for disabled students.