International Law and the Legalization of International Relations - NOTE: THE COURSE IS CANCELLED IN THE SPRING SEMESTER 2018

Course content

International legal scholars have recently developed theories about the relevance of international law for State compliance, diplomacy and inter-state interactions, and the development of national legal systems, that has proved very fruitful in explaining some of the central legal problems that are of interest to lawyers. This is in part due to the legalization of international relations, which refers to the reality that legal and judicial actors are increasingly involved in defining and shaping international legal affairs. Legalization is then considered an aspect in which international and domestic actors conceive their legal and policy options as bounded by what is legally allowed. Moreover, it refers to the process in which international law, in conjunction with the proliferation and role of International Courts, confers new rights and obligations to citizens, organizations and firms.

The goal of this course is to provide masters students with an international law perspective for understanding the impact of legalization in international relations. International relations refers to the behaviour of States and non-State actors in the international arena, but also to how international law might affect the multi-level relations between international and domestic actors, and, between actors at the national legal arena. This course will offer an innovate approach to the topic by differentiating from the traditional study of international relationships taking place in the international/global arena, by focusing on the analysis of international relations interactions in multi-level and domestic context. The main reason for focusing on these levels of interactions is the increasing interest in the legal scholarship and discipline to explain the role that international legal regimes and courts play in shaping domestic society, politics and law.

During the course, students will discuss the limitations and opportunities provided by international law theories and their combination with the international relations discipline. Reflecting on this complementarity will give students an added value that will improve their legal competences and careers prospects as researchers, international and domestic lawyers, judges, civil servants, and experts. Importantly, it will also improve their capacity to assess international affairs as citizens.

In terms of content, the course will expose students to the relevant literature and debates on international law to provide context that enables the students to discuss core questions on the topic. Accordingly, the course is divided into two parts.

1) The first part introduces the students to theories of International Law and International Relations, concepts and methods for studying and understanding the legalization of international affairs (sessions 1 and 2). These two sessions provide the students with the analytical and methodological tools to follow and develop discussions on international law in the framework of a broader international
affairs context.

2) The second part of the course reviews the main questions and topics addressed by the literature in International Law and the legalization of International Relations (sessions 3 to 11). The study of the syllabus’ topics is done by applying the analytical concepts and research tools introduced in the first block of sessions

This course is part of iCourts Excellence Programme (iEP) – International Law and Courts in a Global World, see 'Remarks' below.

Learning outcome

This course will contribute to the students’ competence profile in the following terms.

A) In terms of knowledge, they will be familiar with the fundamental principles of international law and its interaction with international affairs/politics. Moreover, they will demonstrate working knowledge of international and domestic institutions and actors.

B) Within this framework, the students in terms of skills will be able:
1) to identify the central issues of and challenges to legalization and global law governance, such as human rights, legitimacy of international institutions and actors, among others;
2) to characterize and explain the dynamics of multi-level legal and political regime interactions;
3) to articulate and develop coherent debates and arguments on the topic with their peers.

C) Finally, based upon this knowledge and skills, the student will analyse, contrast and evaluate different approaches to the theories of international law and international relations. As a result the student will be able:
1) to critically reflect upon the concept of legalization as a international law phenomenon;
2) critically assess the interaction between international and domestic legal rules and the factual domestic legal practice, meaning for instance how domestic judges and public administrators handle certain international rules;
3) to develop their competencies to analyse legal issues from an international law and relations interdisciplinary perspective;
4) to enable the student to carry out independent legal research on international law;
5) to improve their understanding of the international law and relations processes affecting: Their skills to communicate with legal and non-legal actors or within social and political work environments (e.g. NGOs, government or international organizations); and their legal reasoning as a judges or international/national lawyers helping them to solve international legal issues of their clients or litigants.

Students are expected to read the texts and participate actively in class. To improve the learning process, the course uses a mixture of classical legal learning methods with social sciences pedagogical techniques.

Knowledge and interest in international and constitutional law is recommended.

Please observe, this course is part of iCourts Excellence Programme (iEP) – International Law and Courts in a Global World. Students who sign up for the iEP become iCourts Student Fellows and will get a unique opportunity to become part of the research environment of iCourts – the only centre of excellence in law in Denmark. The iEP is open to all Danish and foreign MA students at the Faculty. All iCourts courses may be taken individually but only students who complete at least three of the 15 ECTS courses offered by the centre will receive a certificate confirming their participation in the iEP. Read more about the programme: http:/​​/​​​​icourts/​​teaching-and-doctoral-training/​​master-excellence-programme/​​

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
Type of assessment
Written examination
Individual written assignment
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Seminar
  • 56
  • Preparation
  • 356,5
  • English
  • 412,5