International Criminal Law 2: Advocacy and Litigation

The details
Essex Law School
Colchester Campus
Postgraduate: Level 7
Monday 13 January 2025
Friday 21 March 2025
13 April 2023


Requisites for this module



Key module for

LLM M21E12 International Criminal Law

Module description

This module equips students with a well-developed understanding of the procedural aspects of international criminal law and imparts practical legal and advocacy skills and techniques to them which they can use in international criminal proceedings or similar professional settings.

The module provides an in-depth overview of how international criminal law proceedings are initiated as well as their trajectory from the earliest phases to the ultimate conclusion of a case (including the conduct of investigations, arrest warrants, pre-trial, trial, appeal proceedings, sentencing and reparations). It canvasses the different roles of the prosecution, defence, victims, states, and the judiciary in such proceedings and provides a detailed analysis of the different legal and policy issues that arise throughout the proceedings and how these are addressed before international criminal courts and tribunals.

It would use the International Criminal Court as the main framework and reference point, while also explaining to students the composite nature of the International Criminal Court's procedures (mixing aspects of different legal systems, including common law and civil law), and alerting them to key features of the procedure at other international criminal tribunals in order to provide points of comparison.

Some of the main subjects to be considered include: admissibility; the rights of the accused and of victims; evidence and issues relating to proof before international criminal courts and tribunals; victim participation; and legal ethics. In the exploration of each of these and other subject areas, particular emphasis is placed on the specific roles of the different actors in the process.

Significantly, students will participate in practical exercises such as witness examination and/or cross-examination, and orally presenting legal arguments. Through this experiential learning, they will practice putting their knowledge into effect and gain confidence implementing professional skills. The module is taught by specialists in procedural law, who have experience in the practice of law and advocacy before institutions and courts applying international criminal law.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • For students to gain a deep understanding of how international criminal law works, using the ICC as the main reference point, and for students to develop and apply their practical legal and advocacy skills and techniques in pursuance of a goal. Collaterally, the module provides specialist knowledge of salient topics in international criminal law.

  • This module expects to increase students’ employability and ability to connect with the industry (particularly international organisations and non-governmental organisations engaged in efforts to protect victims of international crimes) by placing emphasis on professional skills, such as drafting and, oral and written advocacy.

  • Students will acquire a good understanding of international criminal law procedure as it relates to the International Criminal Court and an awareness of the key aspects of the procedure before other international criminal tribunals which differ from that of the ICC.

  • Students will learn how to take a critical approach to the study of law and policy and in particular, they will have acquired the capacity to analyse how different actors in the procedure (prosecution; defence; victims; states; judiciary) will have different perspectives on the subject matter and different goals to be realised through the procedure.

  • Students will learn how to develop and express (orally and in writing) complex arguments to substantiate the critical approaches they take to the subject areas explored within the module.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able to:

  1. Demonstrate specialist knowledge of current issues surrounding international criminal law.

  2. Identify goals, arguments, counter-arguments and practice on issues of global significance in international criminal law.

  3. Be able to draft coherent, succinct and persuasive submissions in pursuance of an identified goal.

  4. Defend orally (and/or in writing) a cause in a formal legal setting.

Module information

Indicative syllabus

  • Institutions (ICC/ICTY/ICTR and other ad hoc tribunals, explaining the development of modern ICL institutions, from the various ad hoc courts to the ICC) and Participants (outlining the roles of the Prosecution; Defence; Judiciary; Victims; States under the Rome Statute and providing points of comparison with other international criminal tribunals)

  • Evidence (standards of admissibility, authenticity and reliability; privileges; exclusionary rules - based essentially on the Rome Statute framework but noting key aspects of other institutions' jurisprudence would could impact on the Rome Statute framework)

  • Investigation (legal obligations, mission planning, collecting and preserving materials; security – with a focus on the Rome Statute framework)

  • Witnesses (eye witnesses and experts; examination and cross-examination; witness protection – applying the framework set out in the rules and jurisprudence of the ICC as augmented by other international criminal tribunals) + in-court examination practical exercise

  • Digital information (remote investigations; digital verification)

  • Litigation phases (anatomy of an ICC trial – from warrant of arrest/summons, through pre-trial and trial/sentencing, to appeals/review; case study)

  • Representing suspects/accused and fair trial rights (ICC/ICTY/ICTR case study, with a central focus on the Rome Statute)

  • Victims' representation and participation (ICC case study)

  • Ethics and professionalism + legal advocacy practical exercise

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be delivered via:

One 2-hour seminar per week (seminars 4 and 9 include practical exercises in the second hour)

Each seminar will convey the factual and theoretical underpinnings regarding the subject matter (for example, seminar 1 will describe the role of each participant, their legal responsibilities, and the theoretical basis for their activities, such as the Prosecution's article 54 duties to equally investigate incriminating and exonerating circumstances). It will also include case studies relevant to the subject matter (for example, seminar 7 on inter alia arrest and surrender will review the Barayagwiza and Nikolic surrenders, the ensuing claims of mistreatment, and the resulting litigation). Additionally, each seminar will introduce students to the practical skills needed to conduct professional work in relation to the relevant procedure (for example, seminar 5 on digital information will see students introduced to the techniques of verification).

Readings will combine theoretical with practical guides, so that students understand the procedural issue in question but also how to litigate it in practice.

Students will also learn through two experiential learning practical exercises: one in week 4 on in-court witness examination and cross-examination, and one in week 9 on presenting oral legal arguments.

The teaching staff will provide individualised feedback to each participating student regarding the techniques used during the exercise. The student's performance during the practical exercise seminars will count towards their final assessment (20% for each practical exercise, for a total of 40% - to combine with 60% for the final summative essay grade).



Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   LW809-7-SP - Summative Essay     60% 
Practical   In-Class Practical Classes    40% 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
No lecture recording information available for this module.


Further information
Essex Law School

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