Global Challenges in International Law

Course content

This course focuses on how international law addresses global challenges. The key purpose of the course is to engage students in considerations about whether and how international law can help some of the most pressing global challenges confronting the world today. The course challenges students to look at international law as a mode of transnational problem-solving, by exploring the processes and modes of international law-making, and to critically assess the value of different kinds of international legal instruments, such as framework conventions, soft law and compacts. The course also examines past and current examples in order to understand why some international legal processes and regimes are successful while others fail. Three highly topical case-studies have been selected for analysis in this course, namely: war, biodiversity loss, and climate change. Throughout the course, students will be expected to actively engage in discussions and group exercises. These exercises aim to give students experience in hands-on problem solving; developing the skills that will be tested in the final exam. The course is divided into three parts.

1. The first part of the course provides the introduction and theoretical foundations of the course, delving into the different approaches to addressing current global challenges in international law.

2. The second part of the course explores three current global challenges of key importance: war, biodiversity loss, and climate change. These case studies will be examined by applying the concepts and tools examined in the first part.

3. The third and final part will be devoted to recapping key issues discussed throughout the course and providing students with an opportunity to get feedback on their work and prepare for the exam assignment.

Lecture programme:

  1. Introduction and agenda-setting in international law
  2. International law-making
  3. International diplomacy and regional cooperation in international law
  4. Critical approaches to international law
  5. Case study 1: War as a global challenge
  6. Case study 1: Applying problem-solving approaches to war
  7. Case study 2: Biodiversity loss as a global challenge
  8. Case study 2: Applying problem-solving approaches to biodiversity loss
  9. Case study 3: Climate change as a global challenge
  10. Case study 3: Applying problem-solving approaches to climate change
  11. Conclusion: The limits and possibilities of international law
  12. Exam Preparation, questions and feedback      
Learning outcome

The course aims to ensure that students acquire the following learning objectives:



  • Knowledge of international legal processes and formation of new regimes
  • Knowledge of international legal policy development and associated challenges



  • Skills to identify international law’s possibilities and limitations in regard to current global challenges
  • Skills to understand different types of international legal instruments and their implications and relevance across different contexts



  • Competence to analyse current and future political, societal and environmental problems from the perspective of international law
  • Competence to apply different international legal approaches to problem-solving

This course blends interactive lectures with practical, group-based work and presentations. The first and third parts of the course are based on a series of interactive lectures, where the lecturer presents a topic and students are expected to engage in classroom discussions. The second part of the course entails two sessions per challenge: an interactive lecture and a guided problem-solving session, with group presentations and feedback. The guided problem-solving sessions are designed to teach students how to apply the approaches and tools outlined in the first part of the course to the specific challenges examined.

Course materials will comprise approximately 375 pages. To ensure a diversity of perspectives and the most up-to-date teaching material, we draw assigned readings from multiple authors as opposed to a single text book. All core readings will be readily available either via upload or online links at the course website. Students are not expected to buy any books as part of the course.

The course builds on the BA course in International Law

Students must be able to read and understand scientific articles in English

Continuous feedback during the course
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Type of assessment details
Individual written assignment

The examination takes the form of a written assignment of maximum 17,600 characters in which students are expected to apply the approaches learned in the first part of the course to one of the three global challenge covered in the course programme. In preparing the written assignment, lecturers will assist students in topic selection.

Please note that the assignment must be written individually.
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Preparation
  • 171,25
  • Seminar
  • 35
  • English
  • 206,25


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Bachelor choice

1 semester

  1. Students enrolled at Faculty of Law: No tuition fee
  2. Professionals: Please visit our website  
Please see timetable for teaching time
Contracting department
  • Law
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Law
Course Coordinators
  • Thomas Gammeltoft-Hansen   (3-796c6d456f7a7733707a336970)
  • Beatriz Martinez Romera   (23-676a6679776e7f33726677796e736a7f337774726a7766456f7a7733707a336970)
Saved on the 11-10-2022

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