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Assignment Briefs 04-08-2024

Identify the relevant facts and the relevant parties: you are expected to address international law issues so do not address anything that is a purely domestic issue

Week 20

Lecture 20 outline

Revision and Assessment Support

Coursework guidance: key tip for structuring in international law

1) identify the issue

2) identify the relevant law and explain why it is relevant – this is specific to International Law

3) explain the relevant law

4) apply the relevant law to the question

5) critically analyse/evaluate the law (?)

6) reach a logical conclusion


Coursework guidance: reading the question

- Take your time to read and understand the question. Read it more than once!

- Identify the relevant facts and the relevant parties: you are expected to address international law issues so do not address anything that is a purely domestic issue



The State C ambassador in host state D has been involved in a road accident in which a child was killed. It soon becomes clear that he was drink driving and the media are all over the case. The State D public are outraged and take to the streets, demanding that firm action is taken and a strong signal is sent. The ambassador decides to stay in his home and refuses to open the door or answer his phone.

Coursework guidance: identifying the relevant facts

- Distinguish between what is legally relevant and what is legally irrelevant

- Identify what is relevant to international law

- Application: why is the given example relevant to international law?


Coursework guidance: identifying the issue

- Link the relevant facts to the relevant international law topic

- Do not question what is given on the facts e.g. do not address statehood if the problem question names the parties ‘State X’ and ‘State Y’

-BUT do not assume what is not given on the facts e.g. do not assume one of the parties is a state party to a treaty


Coursework guidance: sources of international law

-          Ius cogens: check whether ius cogens applies to the issue

-          Treaties: make sure they apply!!! Do not assume they do; check and explain why/why not

-          Customary international law: check whether customary law applies to the issue. Do not assume that a treaty reflects customary international law – check and support by authority

-          Other sources e.g. ILC Draft Articles on State Responsibility



Coursework guidance: identifying the relevant law

  • Use the module materials as a starting point. If your answer contains a lot of sources that were not mentioned at all on the module, you are probably not on the right track.
  • Explain why the source identified is relevant or why not. E.g. if it is given that the relevant parties in the problem are parties to the VCLT, explain that you are applying the VCLT because on the facts they are parties to it.

Coursework guidance: explaining the relevant law

  • Make sure you explain the law in detail – this forms a very important part of the assessment!
  • Do not make assertions without back up. Ever. Authority, authority, authority!!!!!
  • You need footnotes and a bibliography with references in OSCOLA style - avoid plagiarism and show what you have read
  • Pay attention to detail – in law, language is your tool and you need to phrase things accurately, not just describing things vaguely using some key words



Coursework guidance: applying the law

  • Link the law to the facts: imagine you are a judge or legal advisor who needs to explain to the party or parties how the law applies to them. What are their rights/obligations? / What is the likely outcome?
  • It is possible that the law can be interpreted or applied in different ways or that the law is not entirely clear: consider and address this. Pay attention to alternative arguments and consider the strength of different arguments. Support by authority.




Coursework guidance: analyse/evaluate the law (?)

  • Not always possible or appropriate: some legal rules/principles are basically undisputed
  • Sometimes the law is evolving (remember how customary law comes into being…) or there is disagreement on the interpretation/application or even exact content of the law: then you may engage in analysis/evaluation of the law to try and aim for higher marks
  • Careful: only engage in analysis/evaluation of the law after having done everything else i.e. after having identified issues and law, explained why that source is relevant, explained the law and applied it to the facts. Not doing these things first, will cost you marks and it will be unclear what you are trying to analyse or evaluate

Coursework guidance: conclusion

  • On each issue you include a conclusion as to the party/parties’ rights/obligations, the likely outcome etc
  • Do not include new information in your conclusion: issues need to be identified and addressed prior to the conclusion
  • Ideally the conclusion sums up/summarises the answer to the question or the position on the issue identified (depending on how the question is phrased)
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