UCL Faculty of Laws


Foreign Relations Law (LAWS0363)

This course provides students with an introduction to the way law shapes foreign policy.

Foreign Relations Law is the law that relates to the exercise of foreign policy, including the use of force, the recognition of governments and the conclusion of international agreements.  

Our module provides an introduction to the way law shapes foreign policy. It explains the public law and private law liability of foreign policy actors, not all of whom are governments. It connects doctrines of public law, public international law and private international law, in comparative context.  

It also engages with recent, high-profile developments including Miller (on the power to withdraw from an international treaty), Rahmatullah (on Crown act of state), Al-Waheed (on the application of Article 5 ECHR to an armed conflict and its relationship with IHL), Belhaj (on foreign act of state) and Maduro (on recognition of foreign governments and foreign act of state). 

The module asks how lawyers can hold the state accountable for its foreign policy? Which legal obstacles need to be surmounted before the state can be held accountable? Should cases that engage foreign policy receive special treatment? 

Module Syllabus

  • Introduction 
  • The Separation of Powers 
  • Domestic, Foreign and International Law 
  • The Foreign Affairs Prerogative 
  • Treaties 
  • Recognition of states and governments 
  • Diplomatic and consular immunities 
  • Acts of state 
  • Sovereign claims
  • Conclusion 

Recommended Materials

Module reading lists and other materials will be provided via online module pages, once students have selected the course on enrolment. 

Key information

Module details
Credit value:22.5 credits (225 learning hours)
Convenor:Ewan Smith, Ugljesa Grusic, Alex Mills, Piet Eeckhout 
Other Teachers:


Teaching Delivery:10 x 2-hour weekly lectures
Who may enrol:LLM students only
Must not be taken with:None
Qualifying module for:

LLM International Law
LLM Public Law 

Practice Assessment:Opportunity for feedback on one optional practice essay 
Final Assessment:72 Hour Take Home Paper (50%), Viva (50%)