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Unit information: International Trade and Investment Law in 2021/22

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing, student choice and timetabling constraints.

Unit name International Trade and Investment Law
Unit code LAWDM0159
Credit points 30
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Gammage
Open unit status Not open
Pre-requisites

None

Co-requisites

None

School/department University of Bristol Law School
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description

This unit provides a comparative introduction to international trade law and international investment law. A critical and interdisciplinary approach to the study of international trade and international investment law will be adopted to enable students to identify the complex relationship between these two core areas of international economic law. Students will examine the normative foundations of each discipline and identify points of convergence and divergence. The course will provide an introduction to the multilateral trade regime (ie the World Trade Organization and its covered agreements); investment treaties and associated institutions (eg the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID)); and regional trade and investment agreements, where these two areas often converge, including so-called ‘mega-regional’ agreements (eg the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)).


There are a number of broader themes underpinning this unit that students might explore including: the role of international trade and investment agreements in facilitating processes of globalization, including the development of global value chains; the impact of the international trade and investment regimes on sovereignty and domestic policy space; whether the international trade and investment regimes do enough to promote sustainable development; the extent to which international trade and investment agreements create and/or perpetuate systemic (in)justices and (in)equalities between and among countries; potential tensions between regional and multilateral arrangements; and the role of non-state actors in the international trade and international investment regimes (eg multinational corporations).


The diverse ways in which international trade law and investment law shape and inform the global political economy will be examined throughout the unit through the interrogation of specific topics. Students will examine the dispute settlement regimes in international trade and investment law and contemporary debates about reforming these systems. An illustration of what students might study in a given year includes, but is not limited to: history of the international trade and investment regimes; contemporary institutional architecture and dispute settlement arrangements; market access and non-discrimination; coverage of investment treaties (definition of investors and investments); absolute investor protections (eg fair and equitable treatment, protection against expropriation); exceptions and defences in trade and investment agreements; regulatory disciplines in trade (eg Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade); trade remedies (eg safeguards, anti-dumping, subsidies); and linkages between international trade and investment law and other areas of international law (eg environmental and human rights law). Students will explore the role of international trade and investment law in addressing disputes concerning environmental protection or the protection of human health (eg challenges to tobacco plain packaging laws under investment treaties and in WTO dispute settlement). The unit is, in many ways, a unique hybrid, drawing on elements of international law, commercial law, private law and public law.

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. Identify the normative foundations of international trade law and international investment law and critically appraise their similarities and differences
  2. Recognise the role of the international trade and investment law in the global political economy
  3. Explain the institutional frameworks governing and regulating international trade and international investment, including dispute settlement systems
  4. Interpret and analyse key substantive norms of international trade law and international investment law
  5. Interpret and analyse exceptions and defences in international trade law and international investment law
  6. Recognise the linkages between international trade and international investment and sustainable development
  7. Demonstrate a critical understanding of debates on proposed reforms to international trade law and international investment law.

Teaching details

Teaching will be delivered through a variety of asynchronous and synchronous activities.

Assessment Details

Students will be assessed by 2 x 3,000 word coursework assignments. Each 1 x 3,000 word coursework will amount to 50% of the overall mark. Both assessments will assess all of the Intended Learning Outcomes for this unit in the context of topics selected by the examiners.

Formative assessment opportunities will be provided during the year.

Reading and References

  • Peter van den Bossche and Werner Zdouc, The Law and Policy of the World Trade Organization: Text, Cases and Materials, Fourth Edition (Cambridge University Press, 2017).
  • M. Matsushita et al, The World Trade Organization, Third Edition (Oxford University Press, 2015).
  • M. Trebilcock, R. Howse & A. Eliason, The Regulation of International Trade (4th edition, Routledge 2013).
  • Jonathan Bonnitcha, Lauge Poulsen and Michael Waibel, The Political Economy of the Investment Treaty Regime (OUP 2017)
  • Campbell McLachlan, Laurence Shore, and Matthew Weiniger, International Investment Arbitration: Substantive Principles (2nd edn, OUP 2017)
  • Matthias Herdegen, Principles of International Economic Law (2nd edn, OUP 2016)
  • CL Lim, J Ho, and M Paparinskis, International Investment Law and Arbitration: Commentary, Awards and other Materials (CUP 2018)

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