You are here

POL S 525 A: International Law and Institutions

Meeting Time: 
Th 1:30pm - 4:20pm
SAV 169
Professional Picture
Geoffrey P.R. Wallace

Syllabus Description:


Th 1:30pm-4:20pm
Savery Hall (SAV), Room 169

Course Syllabus PDF

Course Description

This seminar introduces graduate students to both classic and contemporary research on international cooperation with a focus on international law and institutions. International relations have become increasingly legalized in recent decades with important implications for thinking about the promise and limits of international law. The course is organized around key stages and elements in the development and functioning of international law. After a general overview of the field, the next part of the course focuses on bargaining over the creation of international agreements, variation in their design, and explanations for why states choose or refuse to commit to legal agreements. Subsequent weeks address questions surrounding compliance with international agreements, enforcement when violations occur, and empirical investigations into the effectiveness of international law. The final weeks examine emerging topics in the study of international law, in particular the increasing judicialization of international relations through greater authority delegated to international courts, as well as the growing complexity of international legal regimes.

Students will examine these dynamics through a set of weekly readings. Assigned readings illustrate the diverse range of perspectives and research designs employed in the field, providing an opportunity to evaluate the merits of different theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of international law. The readings also draw on research from a variety of issue areas (e.g., human rights, armed conflict, trade, the environment, etc.), regions of the world, and historical time periods in order to highlight patterns of legalization under differing contexts. Throughout the course, we will pay careful attention to evaluating theoretical arguments and empirical evidence, drawing linkages across studies, and identifying areas for further inquiry.

In a quarter-length course certain topics, by necessity, cannot be covered. Similarly, many of the week’s topics, such as those on international norms or international courts, could constitute entire courses on their own. Nevertheless, the course aims to provide students a firm theoretical and empirical foundation for further research into international law and institutions, as well as the broader study of international cooperation. As an additional overall objective, the course requirements are designed for students to develop professionalization skills and improve their ability to present their ideas both verbally and in writing.

Course Requirements
Regular Seminar Participation (30%)
Two Critical Response Memos (20%)
Article Presentation (10%)
Author’s Defendant (5%)
Final Paper (35%)



Catalog Description: 
Inputs of international law into the decisional process in foreign policy. Effect of policy on law. Relevant roles of individuals and institutions in routine and crisis situations.
Last updated: 
March 2, 2022 - 9:35pm