LAW37490 Advanced International Law - The Law of the Sea

Academic Year 2022/2023

More than two thirds of the earth's surface is covered by water, and the sea and the sea-bed are used by states for a variety of purposes. The creation of rules to govern activities in these areas has consequently become one of the most important functions of contemporary international law. The aim of this module is to study how this is achieved and the main legal principles which have been developed. The module covers both an analysis of the various maritime zones (including the territorial sea, the continental shelf, the exclusive economic zone, the high seas and the deep sea-bed), related maritime issues (such as marine pollution and the regulation of fishing rights), as well as contemporary case studies (for example, piracy, migration by sea, interaction with other areas such as territorial-based sovereignty disputes).

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of the module, students should have developed a good knowledge of the historical development and core principles underlying the law of the sea, the core features of the 1982 UN Convention (UNCLOS), an understanding of jurisdictional matters in each of the maritime zones, as well as a range of areas of contemporary interest.

Students should also have enhanced the generally transferable skills and specific skills developed throughout their degree programmes, including the ability to conduct legal research (especially using international legal materials) and the ability to present a coherent legal argument. Students will be expected to demonstrate these learning outcomes through the combination of a mid-term essay and end of semester examination (involving problem and essay-based questions).

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
This module adopts the traditional lecture approach to the delivery of the module. Students are encouraged to read material in advance of class to better inform their understanding and participation in lectures. There will be formative learning exercises conducted during the lectures throughout the semester to aid student learning and which build upon group work skills, analytical skills and peer review feedback. Questions are encouraged as we learn best when we learn from one another. Students will have the opportunity during the lectures and Office Consultation hours to discuss any problems they are having with the content of the module and to discuss the coursework assessment essay. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Requirements:

Basic understanding of public international law. Whilst LAW30730 Public International Law is not a formal pre-requisite, it is necessary that students have either completed this module or an equivalent introductory module in public international law. For students of the MSc in Environmental and Climate Law, completion of LAW40120 Foundations of Environmental Law will be treated as equivalent for these purposes.

Learning Recommendations:

Strong foundation in international law. Completion of LAW30730 Public International Law.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Assignment: 2,500-word end of semester assignment. Week 12 n/a Graded No


Assignment: 2,500-word mid-semester assignment Week 7 n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn Yes - 1 Hour
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment
• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment
• Self-assessment activities

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Initial group feedback will be provided during and after the in-class exercises. Individual feedback will be given to students after each assessment (i.e. after the mid-semester and end-of-trimester essays).

Recommended Text:
Y Tanaka, International law of the Sea, 3rd edn (CUP, 2019) *available from Aug 2019*

Further Reading Texts:
DR Rothwell and T Stephens, The International Law of the Sea, 2nd edn (Hart-Bloomsbury, 2016)
DR Rothwell et al (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of the Law of the Sea (OUP, 2015)
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 Thurs 14:00 - 15:50