About the course

The aim of the course is for the students to acquire a basic understanding of public international law and its functions in international politics. The focus of the course is public international law and international politics related to issues of peace and security. Furthermore, students will obtain an understanding of the role of international law before, during and after international conflicts. In addition, students will gain insight to the functions of the United Nations and international tribunals in situations related to peace and security.

This course is for anyone interested in the UN, international law and the politics of the international community. The course will give you insight into how international actors make use of international public law in international politics and in their interactions with each other in questions relating to international peace and security.

The main focus of the course is the UN and its legal framework that determines the principles and goals of international peace and security. We will get a deeper understanding of the workings of the UN and the historical and legal development that has taken place in the post-war world in regards to international conflicts.

We will also focus on the following questions:

Is there such a thing as a just war? Is conflict always illegal?

We will take a closer look at public international law and questions relating to how international peace and security is dealt with within international politics. The UN-charter is the foundation for peaceful international relations and should be upheld by all states. However, despite the aims of the UN-charter and the world organization we live in a world plagued by war, conflict and gross human rights violations. Today’s wars are fought in a variety of ways and with different means such as for instance the war against terrorism, internal conflicts and interstate conflicts. There are as many different political interests as there are states which means that in the reality of political conflicts are interpreted and understood differently. Who is wrong and who is right? And can war and conflict be justified legally?

What rules are applicable in war?

Another focus of the course is on humanitarian law, i.e. what rules apply in a conflict situation and how are individuals protected in a time of war in their capacity as either combatants or civilians.

Can a head of state be tried in a court of law for committing war crimes and crimes against their own population?

Furthermore, the course will dwell deeper into international criminal law. International criminal law is based on a set of agreements between states to try perpetrators accused of committing crimes of a serious nature such as for instance war crimes and crimes against humanity. How are these courts constructed and what possibilities exist to try heads of state for committing crimes of this nature?

The course is concluded with a project work, which aims at trying individuals suspected of international crimes in a mock trial.

The teaching on this course is conducted primarily through seminars that demand active participation from the students. We work with problem-based learning which means that the students actively practice building their knowledge and asking relevant questions that they need in order to analyse or solve problems that they have been assigned. The teaching also encompasses case studies relevant to the course. The seminars demand preparation in different ways, for example, the students may get assignments to complete before the seminar or various problems to present to the other students. In order to get the most out of the course, it’s important to always come well prepared and thereby you will also contribute to productive group discussions.

Course content

The course contains the following modules:

Module 1: The UN Charter and Collective Security (7,5 credits)

The first module introduces the legal and political context of the United Nation’s Charter and its normative base for collective peace and international security. The module contains a historic overview of the development of the just war tradition up until the creation of the UN and its charter at the end of the Second World War. The module also deals with the UN’s decision-making machinery in post-Second World War politics and how the charter is implemented and interpreted by states in their international relations.

Module 2: Humanitarian Law (7,5 credits)

The second module introduces international humanitarian law and its legal regulations and principles, its interpretation and application in armed conflict. A war is subject to international legal regulations and principles, with regards to the right to go to war (jus ad bellum) and how to conduct as just war (jus in bello), the so-called laws of war or humanitarian law. Humanitarian law focuses on the protection of individuals in conflict and the conduct of war. Hence, the module is focusing on humanitarian law and it’s the legal and political implementation and consequences on states and individuals.

Module 3: The Legal and Political Consequences of War- Mock trial (15 credits)

The third module’s focus is international criminal law and its role in international politics. International criminal law is the last developed part of the just war doctrine, jus post bellum, and deals with how to create justice after conflict. This is done by introducing the students to international criminal law as field from a legal, historical and political perspective. For the students to be able to get a holistic understanding of international criminal law the module is divided into two parts. The first part introduces the students to the theoretical and generic knowledge needed to get an understanding of the prerequisites and application of international criminal law. The second part of the module consist of a role play in the form of a mock trial in which the students by acting as parties in a trial get to practically apply the knowledge and skills acquired from Part I. The two parts are to an extent run parallel.

Part I International Criminal Law- Development and content

Part I of the third module deals with the aftermath of armed conflict on both states and individuals (jus post bellum). The module introduces and gives an historic background to international criminal law as the basis for prosecution and sentencing of individuals responsible for serious international crimes, as well as how international criminal law is connected to public international law, national law and politics. The module also deals with the legal framework of different tribunals and international judiciary systems established to deal with international crimes. Furthermore, the module presents what constitutes and is defined as an international crime and how states interact politically in order to implement the international criminal legal sources in and the challenges this entail.

Part II Mock Trial

Part II consists of a project work where students work together in groups. The assignment of the module is to investigate and analyse an international dispute, both from a legal and political perspective. The groups are beforehand assigned a specific party to the conflict from which perspective they are to prepare and present a standpoint, including legal arguments and case based on the relevant political and historical context. The teaching form of this module is supervision.

Syllabus and course literature

You can find a list of literature in the syllabus, along with other details about the course.

Entry requirements and selection

Entry requirements

General entry requirements + English 6.


Upper secondary grades 66%, Swedish Scholastic Aptitude Test (SweSAT) 34%

Course evaluation

The University provides students who participate in or who have completed a course with the opportunity to make known their experiences and viewpoints with regards to the course by completing a course evaluation administered by the University. The University will compile and summarize the results of course evaluations as well as informing participants of the results and any decisions relating to measures initiated in response to the course evaluations. The results will be made available to the students (HF 1:14).


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