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International Criminal Justice - LAW00052H

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  • Department: The York Law School
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Mattia Pinto
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25

Module summary

This module provides students with an introduction to International Criminal Justice, broadly conceived. The course will enable students to critically engage with the philosophy and history of international criminal justice as well as to study in detail the legal framework, enforcement mechanisms and contemporary developments relating to the prosecution of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, aggression and torture. There will be a particular focus on the roles of courts and tribunals, both domestic and international, in prosecuting individuals accused of these kinds of crimes.

Related modules

Co-requisite modules

  • None

Prohibited combinations

  • None

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2024-25

Module aims

This module aims, as part of the overall LLB programme, to enable students to develop new and further critical perspectives on law, whilst progressively developing core academic and legal skills.

International criminal justice is at a crossroads. On the one hand, we now have an unprecedented ability to prosecute individuals accused of torture, genocide and crimes against humanity both domestically and internationally, emblematic of the extent to which these kinds of prosecutions have become normalised over the last seventy years. On the other hand, more and more countries have raised concerns about international criminal prosecutions, arguing that they are selective or neocolonialist in their application. This is exemplified by the withdrawal, or threatened withdrawal, from the International Criminal Court of a number of countries.

This module aims to introduce students to some of these key debates, by providing an overview of the legal and philosophical underpinnings of international criminal justice. Key topics in this course will be:

* The development of the laws that govern international criminal justice, including torture, genocide, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression.

* The philosophical and historical origins of international criminal justice

* The courts and tribunals that adjudicate these kinds of crime, including the International Criminal Court

* The key challenges facing the greater implementation of these kinds of prosecutions, including the role of politics and of the international community, and questions of sovereignty and human rights.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students are expected to be able to:

* Demonstrate clear understanding of the legal framework, both domestic and international, underpinning international criminal justice.

* Show knowledge of the philosophical and historical foundations of international criminal justice and be able to apply this knowledge in their core assessments.

* Demonstrate understanding of the roles of courts and tribunals, both domestic and international, in the practice of international criminal law.

* Critically evaluate the key issues facing the field of international criminal justice, including the questions of distributive justice, selective justice and neo-colonialism.

* Critically reflect on their own learning and identify ways of improvement.

* Effectively communicate their learning in this course both orally and through written assessment.

Module content

Module content will vary from year to year but key topics will include:

* The origins of International Criminal Justice

* Early war crimes tribunals, including Nuremberg and Tokyo

* Ad hoc tribunals, including the ICTR and the ICTY

* Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity

* Torture and Aggression

* The International Criminal Court

* Domestic prosecution of crimes against humanity, torture and genocide.


Task Length % of module mark
3000 Word Essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Students will be assessed through a 3,000 word essay worth 100% of their final mark. The length of this essay will enable students to pursue a topic of their choice in depth, and enable them to draw on both course materials and further research to demonstrate the learning outcomes of this topic.

Formative assessment will be provided through informal presentations during seminars.


Task Length % of module mark
3000 Word Essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Students will receive ongoing feedback from tutors and peers on developing their understanding and skills during seminars.

Guidance and feedback on skills and formative assessment will be provided through seminars and plenaries.

Feedback on summative assessment will be provided through written comments on assessed work.

Indicative reading

Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem, London, Penguin Books, 1963.

Shoshana Felman, The Juridical Unconscious: Trials and Traumas in the 20th Century, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002.

Gerry Simpson, Law, War and Crime, London: Polity Press, 2007.

Lawrence Douglas, The Memory of Judgment: Making Law and History in the Trials of the Holocaust, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001.

Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court

R (Al Rabbat) v Westminster Magistrates Court, (1) The Rt Hon Tony Blair (2) The Rt Hon Jack Straw (3) the Rt Hon the Lord Goldsmith and HM Attorney General [2017] EWHC 1969 (Admin)

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.