International Law of the Sea

Course content

In light of the increasing use of the oceans, the elaboration of law of the sea is particularly important. For instance, currently there is a great need to pursue conservation policies in order to prevent depletion of marine living resources because these resources are an important source of protein in a situation of food shortage at the global level. As contaminations in coastal waters may pose serious risks to marine ecosystems and human health, arguably the protection of the marine environment is of central importance for the survival of coastal populations. Further to this, law of the sea is an inseparable part of public international law in general. Hence, law of the sea will provide useful insights into the study of various fields of international law, including sources of the law, state jurisdiction, environmental protection and peaceful settlement of international disputes, etc. Against that background, this course aims to provide a broad knowledge of the international law of the sea focusing on the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.The course is divided into three principal parts:

1. The first part will discuss the development of international law of the sea.
Main focus will be on the codification of the law.
2. The second part of the course seeks to provide systematic knowledge on each jurisdictional zone in the oceans.
To this end, this part will examine:
(i) Internal waters,
(ii) Territorial sea,
(iii) International straits,
(iv) Archipelagic waters,
(v) Contiguous zone,
(vi) Exclusive economic zone,
(v) Continental shelf, ´
(vi) High seas,
(vii) The Area, and
(viii) Maritime delimitations.
3. The third part will address various issues arising from human use of the oceans, such as:
(i) Conservation of marine living resources,
(ii) Protection of the marine environment,
(iii) Concervation of marine biological diversity,
(iv) Marine scientific research, and
(v) Marine security
(vi) Peaceful settlement of international disputes

Learning outcome

- To demonstrate a understanding concerning legal frameworks governing each jurisdictional zone.
- To critically analyse legal issues associated with the use of the oceans.

Teaching will be an inter-active lecture.

Essential Reading: You will be advised to choose one of the textbooks indicated below:

- Y. Tanaka, The International Law of the Sea, 2nd edition (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2015)

- D. Rothwell and T. Stephens, The International Law of the Sea (Oxford, Hart Publishing 2010),

- R.R.Churchill and A.V. Lowe, The Law of the Sea, 3rd edition (Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1999).

- The 1982 United Convention on the Law of the Sea (the text of the Convention is available online:(

The text is also reproduced in M.D. Evans, Blackstone’s International Law Documents, 10th edition, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2011.)

Total required reading is approximately 550 pages.

Type of assessment
Written assignment
Individual written assignment

Essay assignment of the number of 23000 characters, which is equivalent to approximately 4500 words in English. The essay topics will be suggested approximately 5 weeks before the deadline.
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

- Present and explain the theoretical and practical problems of the course subject
- Identify all relevant legal issues
- Identify all relevant treaties, customary law, general principle of law, and international decisions
- Analyse relevant issues within the course subject based on various relevant and professional approaches
- Make a critical weighting of the relevant arguments and make a reasoned choice in relation to theoretical and practical solutions
- Structure the work so that statements, arguments and conclusions flow coherently and logically
- Put into perspective the specific issues of the course subject in a way that shows that she/he has a professional breadth of view in relation to and knowledge about the course subject
- Propose an appropriate synthesis and conclusion with respect to facts, issues, law and solutions
- Conduct a thorough and planned library research
- Demonstrate the ability to do research independently and autonomously
- Communicate and formulate her/his knowledge and arguments professionally and linguistically correct and in a way that is structured and coherent.

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Seminar
  • 25,5
  • Practical exercises
  • 8,5
  • Preparation
  • 241
  • English
  • 275,0