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Durham University

Postgraduate Module Handbook 2022/2023

Archive Module Description

This page is for the academic year 2021-22. The current handbook year is 2022-23
No such Code for pgprog: L2K609, L2K909

Department: Government and International Affairs

SGIA48615: Introduction to the Law and Practice of International Criminal Justice

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Not available in 2021/22
Tied to L2K609, L2K909


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • The aim of this course is to provide an overview of the fundamental principles of international criminal justice. The course aims to provide a platform for further study of, or research into, the more specialized aspects of international criminal justice. The course will be taught in such a way that it will enable students to acquire a proper grounding in the basic principles, features and institutions of the international criminal justice system in both theoretical and practical aspects, and provide an opportunity to explore more advanced problems concerning these basic principles and features.


  • The historical development of international criminal justice since WW I: From Versailles to the ICC – an outline of the institutions of international criminal justice
  • International crimes – aggression, genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes
  • Foundations of international criminal justice systems – the interplay of comparative and international law; systemic clashes – common law vs civil law
  • Socio-legal aspects of international criminal justice – selective prosecution, sources of law, recruitment of personnel; stakeholder influence (especially the donor and NGO community) etc.
  • Special issues will typically include:
  • o Treatment of sexual and gender-based violence at the example of 
  • the ICC Statute’s stance on the meaning of “gender” and the position of LGBTQ persons; 
  • forced marriage and forced pregnancy.
  • o Challenges of prosecuting historic mass atrocities: The example of the Khmer Rouge trials.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students will have, by the end of the module,
  • • have an understanding of the structure, features and fundamental characteristics of the international criminal justice system;
  • • have an understanding of the role international justice plays in the ordering of international society.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will, by the end of the module,
  • to explain the way in which rules and principles of international justice are made and develop;
  • to identify the key participants in the international criminal justice system and to explain the status and the roles that these participants play within that system;
  • • to recognise international legal problems and be able to construct arguments as to how these problems may be resolved, including some of the leading cases of international criminal courts and the socio-legal aspects of the topic;
  • • to demonstrate knowledge of the methods by which international criminal justice is implemented.
Key Skills:
  • Students will be able to demonstrate
  • • developed research and writing skills, including the ability to work independently and to take responsibility for their own learning;
  • • ability to research questions of international criminal justice using the entire range of sources recognised within the international criminal justice system and to find and to use materials to construct valid arguments within international criminal justice;
  • • ability to construct written arguments. They will be able to work independently and to think critically;
  • • ability to formulate complex arguments in articulate and structured English, within the discursive conventions and genres of academic writing and written to high academic standards;
  • • effective time management .

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • This module will be delivered in workshop style – it will be participatory, interactive and include both theory and practice. During the module students will be given mini-lectures and briefings and will be expected to make presentations. To prepare in advance for the module students will advised on required reading.
  • Where appropriate, invitations will be made to practitioner guest lecturers on specific topics.
  • Written work which requires a demonstration of students' analytical, problem-solving and communication skills.
  • Summative assessment will include an article review (pre-workshop) and a report or essay (post-workshop). The case study for the essay is selected by students taking this module. This is to maximise flexibility with a view to the wide range of professional backgrounds and needs students attending the course are expected to have. The guiding questions for the essay/report are based on the themes discussed during the workshop. The article review is designed to provide students with a focused task to prepare them, through self-guided learning, for the workshop’s discussions as well as case study analysis.
  • Assessment is intended to develop students' analytical and academic writing skills. Students will receive continuing formative feedback in seminar and group discussions during the course of the module. More specifically, the students will receive formative feedback on a memory project that they will devise and present in small groups. This project will require the students to apply the knowledge gained throughout the module.
  • Students will receive continuing formative feedback during the course of the module.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Workshop 1 Epiphany term 2 days 15
Preparation and Reading 135
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Pre-Course Essay Component Weighting: 30%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Article Review 1000 100%
Component: Post-course Essay Component Weighting: 70%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Report 2500 100%

Formative Assessment:

The course will be heavily interactive and will include student presentations and discussions, practical exercises and role play based on case-studies and scenarios. Students will be given ongoing feedback on these exercises and will have the opportunity to seek clarification and ask further questions on the material arising from these activities throughout the course.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University