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Unit information: International Economic Law and Institutions in 2018/19

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Unit name International Economic Law and Institutions
Unit code LAWDM0141
Credit points 30
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Professor. Novitz
Open unit status Not open




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


This unit will examine international economic law and institutions operating in the fields of trade, aid and development. In particular, students will consider the legal materials, policy statements and supervisory procedures that govern the work of various international and regional institutions associated with international economic law. The relationship between macro-economic global management, international lending and trade will be considered. The institutions investigated will include, at the global level, the United Nations and its agencies, such as the World Bank group and the International Monetary Fund, and also the World Trade Organisation. At the regional level, our focus will be on the role that the European Union plays in development assistance and its associated trade-related policies will also be investigated. Attention will also be paid not only to regulatory initiatives, but also to regulatory omissions which have implications for North-South relations, such as implementation of international investment instruments and temporary migration linked to trade in services. Reference will be made to diverse understandings of the role of development in international economic law, which emerged through international agreements and have been the subject of criticism by legal, political and economic theorists.

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of the Unit, students should be able to:

  • actively demonstrative knowledge of the workings of key international economic institutions in the field of trade regulation and development aid,
  • have a critical understanding of the international legal materials generated by these institutions as well as the programmes that they operate,
  • critically apply primary sources including materials on the websites of the institutions in question,
  • critically analyse the ways in which decisions are made by such institutions and the capacity for review of such decisions,
  • refer to and analyse theoretical studies and secondary materials which seek to evaluate these processes, allowing them to develop their own evaluative frameworks relating to the operation of these systems,

Teaching details

The contact hours for this unit will be 30 hours. This will usually take the format of: 8 lectures, 10 two-hour seminars and 2 assessment preparation and feedback sessions.

Assessment Details

Summative: a 2000 word essay (33%) will assess the candidate's ability to research a topic within the scope of this unit. The remaining Intended Learning Outcomes will be assessed in a 3 hour written examination (67%). Both assessments will assess all of the Intended Learning Outcomes for this unit in the context of topics selected by the examiners.

Formative: students should do one formative assessment (this will usually be 1 x 1500 word essay).

Reading and References

The following will be helpful sources for reading in this unit. The most recent editions of:

  • A. F. Lowenfeld, International Economic Law (Oxford University Press)
  • P. van den Bossche, The Law and Policy of the World Trade Organization: Text, Cases and Materials, (Cambridge University Press)
  • M.J. Trebilcock, International Trade Law (Edward Elgar)

Students will also be directed to online sources, journals articles and cases where relevant. These will be provided in their reading list which will be circulated before the course starts in the Autumn term.