Spring 2020 - POL 344 J100

International Law (4)

Class Number: 8781

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Fr 5:30 PM – 9:20 PM
    HCC 1315, Vancouver

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 20, 2020
    11:59 PM – 11:59 PM
    TAKE HOME-EXAM, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    Six lower division units in political science or permission of the department.



Sovereignty, nationality, jurisdiction, arbitration. Examination of selected cases exemplifying present trends in the international legal order.


Course Description: 

Why should we study International Law (IL), the body of rules, norms, and practices governing state behaviour? Principally, we should study IL because legal systems in today’s highly interactive, globalized world are highly interconnected: We travel and migrate to other countries; we trade, invest and do business abroad; and states conflict with and seek peaceful, diplomatic solutions with each other, all of which affects domestic citizens. In the context of this interdependent world, IL is no longer exclusively a tool employed by diplomats within international organizations; it is an essential tool for local governments, business persons, entrepreneurs, journalists and even activists. We, as citizens, also need to understand the fundamentals of international law.  

This introductory course in International Law assumes no prior knowledge of the topic. We will examine the fundamental concepts, principles, rules and issues of “public international law” with a view to better understanding how the “world works” and how to make it a better place for all. The course is divided into three parts. We begin by understanding the historical evolution and “sources” of IL, and consider different approaches to IL such as critical, feminist and “third world” approaches to mainstream IL. Key questions will be: Does IL really exist? And, Is IL neo-colonial? The second part of the course examines the substantive rules and principles of IL, including: the use of force; the law of treaties and compliance issues; statehood and state responsibility, self-determination and secession, pacific dispute settlement and diplomatic laws. Last, we investigate contemporary issues and debates on the role of IL in making a better world. A range of areas will be explored such as human rights law and humanitarian law, and international criminal, economic and environmental law. We will closely consider issues of justice, including how to address massive human rights violations like genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, human trafficking, and the plight of refugees, migrants or stateless persons in our unsettled world.

Course Organization:

There will be a four-hour interactive seminar each week. 


  • Participation & Problem Sets 15%
  • Mid-term Exam 20%
  • Team Case Analysis 15%
  • Research Essay 25%
  • Final Exam (Take-home) 25%



Malcolm D. Evans (ed). International Law. Fifth Edition. Oxford University Press, August 2018. ISBN: 9780198791836 

This volume is accompanied by an Online Resource Centre for students.

Other required readings and supplementary readings will be posted electronically on Canvas, with useful recommended books placed on Library reserves.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

The Department of Political Science strictly enforces a policy on plagiarism.
For details, see http://www.sfu.ca/politics/undergraduate/program/related_links.html and click on “Plagiarism and Intellectual Dishonesty” .

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html