International Law


Program Description

Learn about the Law of the International Community, including how International Law is created, applied and upheld in today's world.

About this course

International law can be considered as the law of the international community, the law that governs relations between States. But it also relates to what international organizations do and, increasingly, it concerns individuals, corporations, NGO’s and other non-state actors.

As the world becomes more interdependent and more complex, and as new institutions are put in place to make international law more effective, international law has become an exciting, expanding field. Never before has it been so relied upon, used and developed. Despite their differences in size, power, culture, religion, and ideologies, states rely on international law to cooperate and to coexist; they speak the language of international law and international law serves them as an important common language.

This law course will extensively rely on judgments and advisory opinions of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations (UN).

Having acquired a basic knowledge of international law, you’ll find it easier to comprehend this subject in future international law sub-fields, like international human rights, international humanitarian law or international investment law.

This course will teach you what international law is, the role it plays in the world today, how it can be used. You will also gain knowledge to help you better discern legal arguments within the flow of international news and reports.

This course is part of the International Law MicroMasters Program that is designed to give learners a critical understanding of how international relations between States and individuals are dealt with, regarding the law.

What you'll learn

  • How, and by whom, international law is made, by whom it must be respected, and how it is applied.
  • What happens when binding rules are breached and how is it possible to seek justice in this world.

Course Syllabus

  1. Introducing International Law
    1. What is International law
    2. A brief history
    3. International law as a common language
  2. Setting the International Law Stage
    1. States
    2. International Organizations
    3. United Nations
  3. Making International Law (part 1)
    1. Introduction: the theory of sources
    2. The problem of International Law-making
    3. Customary International Law
  4. Making International Law (part 2)
    1. International Treaties
    2. The Validity of Treaties
    3. General Principles
    4. Unilateral Acts
    5. Soft-Law
  5. Applying International Law
    1. Binding force of International Law
    2. Interpreting International Law
    3. Conflicting obligations
    4. Applying International Law, including in domestic law
  6. Claiming responsibility
    1. The Notion of Responsibility and the Concept of Internationally Wrongful Act
    2. Attribution of Internationally Wrongful Act
    3. Responsibility and New Obligations
    4. Invoking Responsibility
    5. Countermeasures
  7. Seeking Justice
    1. Pacific Settlement of Disputes
    2. Arbitration
    3. The International Court of Justice (Jurisdiction)
    4. The International Court of Justice (Procedure)
    5. The International Criminal Court
    6. International Immunities before Domestic Courts
  8. Upholding Peace
    1. The Outlawry of War
    2. Self-Defence
    3. Collective Security
    4. The Use of Force and the United Nations


No prior knowledge of international law is required. However, students should be familiar with the requirements of graduate-level courses and should preferably have already followed some law courses in order to be familiar with legal concepts and legal language.

Further Information

  • Length: 12 Weeks
  • Effort: 6–8 hours per week
  • Price: FREE; Add a Verified Certificate for $150 USD
  • Institution: LouvainX
  • Subject: Law
  • Level: Advanced
  • Language: English
  • Video Transcript: English
Last updated Sep 2019

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Founded by Harvard University and MIT in 2012, edX is an online learning destination and MOOC provider, offering high-quality courses from the world’s best universities and institutions to learners everywhere. With more than 90 global partners, we are proud to count the world’s leading universities, nonprofits, and institutions as our members. EdX university members top the QS World University Rankings® with our founders receiving the top honors, and edX partner institutions ranking highly on the full list. Read less