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Unit information: International Sale of Goods in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name International Sale of Goods
Unit code LAWDM0143
Credit points 30
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Mark Campbell
Open unit status Not open




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


Following a general introduction to international sale of goods, the unit will address three main areas. First, the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (Vienna, 1980) (CISG), a measure aimed at harmonising legal rules on international sales, and which has been adopted by more than 80 countries (although not the UK). There will be consideration of matters such as CISG’s sphere of application, the correct approach to its interpretation, and remedies. Second, aspects of English law relevant to international sales, including the particular rules that have developed in relation to FOB and CIF contracts. This part of the unit will consider the Sale of Goods Act 1979, including provisions relevant to passing of property and risk, as well as remedies. Third, the financing of international trade, with particular focus on documentary credits (including UCP 600).

The aims of the unit are as follows.

  • To understand the legal issues raised by an international sale of goods.
  • To understand the particular forms of contracts that have developed to meet the needs of international sales transactions (e.g. FOB/CIF contracts, INCOTERMS).
  • To understand and analyze the relevant provisions of the CISG.
  • To understand and analyze relevant aspects of English law.
  • To be able to identify the legal problems posed by complex factual situations and to understand how the applicable rules and principles provide answers to such problems.
  • To understand the ways in which current legal frameworks dealing with international sales might be reformed.
  • To understand the significance of measures aimed at harmonizing legal rules relevant to international trade.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of this unit, the student will be able, to a degree commensurate with the level at which the unit is taught, to do the following.

  • Demonstrate a good understanding of legal issues that arise in connection with contracts for the international sale of goods and be able to offer a critical analysis of those issues.
  • Demonstrate a good understanding of relevant aspects of CISG and English sales law and be able to engage in a critical assessment of such legal rules and principles.
  • Critically assess the rationales for, and significance of, measures aimed at harmonizing legal rules relevant to international trade.
  • Be able to apply relevant legal rules and principles to hypothetical problem scenarios.

Teaching details

This unit will be taught by way of 10 one-hour lectures, 10 two-hour seminars and 2 assessment preparation/feedback sessions.

Assessment Details

Summative: a 2000 word essay (33%) and a 3-hour written examination (67%). The two summative assessments will assess all of the Intended Learning Outcomes for this unit in the context of topics selected by the examiners.

Formative: 1 x 1500 word essay.

Reading and References

  • United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (Vienna, 1980) (CISG)
  • UNCITRAL Digest of Case Law on the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (2016)
  • Sale of Goods Act 1979
  • Michael Bridge, International Sale of Goods (4th edn, OUP 2017)
  • Clayton P Gillette, An Advanced Introduction to International Sales Law (Edward Elgar 2017)
  • Ingeborg Schwenzer, Christina Fountoulakis and Mariel Dimsey, International Sales Law: A Guide to the CISG (3rdedn, Hart 2019)
  • MA Clarke, RJA Hooley et al, Commercial Law: Text, Cases and Materials (5thedn, OUP 2017)
  • Ewan McKendrick, Goode on Commercial Law (5th edn, Penguin 2016