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LCRM101 Introduction to Criminology AND LAWS104 Foundations of Law and Legal Research

Unit rationale, description and aim

International Criminal Law is an increasingly significant and specialised area of criminal law. It is also an area that raises challenging questions that are relevant to criminology and law more generally – questions about responsibility, retribution, ethics, and the purpose of criminal justice.

This unit introduces students to International Criminal Law. It begins with helping students to develop their technical knowledge of International Criminal Law by covering the legal, institutional, and procedural framework of International Criminal Law. This foundation is extended by looking at the main offences of International Criminal Law: genocide; crimes against humanity; war crimes; and aggression. Finally, it will explore the various institutions that undertake international criminal prosecutions, including the International Criminal Court, ad hoc tribunals and national courts, and will explain their procedural arrangements. Throughout the unit the ethical, theoretical and philosophical issues associated with international criminal prosecutions, are progressively developed, thereby developing students' higher level understanding and critical thinking skills in this area.

The aim of International Criminal Law is to produce graduates with both technical knowledge and a critical understanding of International Criminal Law.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Describe international criminal offences and procedure (GA5, GA6, GA9)

LO2 - Identify international criminal offences in factual situations (GA4, GA5, GA6, GA9)

LO3 - Critically evaluate International Criminal Law cases and proceedings (GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9)

Graduate attributes

GA4 - Think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - Demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - Solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA8 - Locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - Demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 


Topics will include:

The history and development of International Criminal Law:

  •  The Nuremberg and Tokyo Trials
  •  The ad hoc tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda
  •  The International Criminal Court
  •  The Special Court for Sierra Leone

The sources of International Criminal Law:

  •  Treaty law
  •  Customary international law
  •  General principles of International Law

International criminal offences:

  •  Genocide
  •  Crimes against humanity
  •  War crimes
  •  Aggression

Individual and command responsibility

International criminal procedure:

  •  Evidential requirements
  •  Witness testimony
  •  Victim representation
  •  Fair trial concerns
  •  Appeal process

Aims and justifications of International Criminal Law

Theories of International Criminal Law

Current problems in International Criminal Law

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit is designed to develop technical knowledge, a deeper critical understanding of International Criminal Law, and research skills. By using active learning activities, such as case analysis, preparation of investigative and legal briefs and moots, students will learn how to identify international criminal offences in real life situations and to navigate the procedural and institutional complexities involved in trying international offences or ACU Online 10 week asynchronous delivery mode. In particular, seminar activities and the integrated assessment (detailed below) focus on higher order questions about International Criminal Law through the critical analysis of legal documents and academic research. These learning activities scaffold the development of technical knowledge, understanding and critical thinking and research skills.

ACU Online

This unit uses an active learning approach to support students in the exploration of knowledge essential to the discipline. Students are provided with choice and variety in how they learn. Students are encouraged to contribute to asynchronous weekly discussions. Active learning opportunities provide students with opportunities to practice and apply their learning in situations similar to their future professions. Activities encourage students to bring their own examples to demonstrate understanding, application and engage constructively with their peers. Students receive regular and timely feedback on their learning, which includes information on their progress.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment tasks have been explicitly created to address the identified Learning Outcomes for this unit (assessment of learning) and designed to allow students to learn about and apply the skills required by professionals working in the fields of criminology and law (assessment for learning).

There are three assessment tasks, integrated with the learning and teaching strategy above to scaffold learning achievement. 

The first assessment comprises a basic content knowledge quiz to ensure students have acquired the requisite basic awareness of international criminal offences and procedure.

In the second assessment, students will be asked to write an arrest warrant in the style of the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court. Students will have to identify the possible offences an individual may have carried out under International Criminal Law and produce a legal document. This will build students’ knowledge of both the substantive and procedural requirements of International Criminal Law, as well as developing their ability to apply the law to real situations.

In the third assessment, students will be asked to write a research essay on an issue in International Criminal Law. This will develop students’ understanding of some of the more complex issues in both International Criminal Law and criminology more generally, as well as building research skills and critical thinking skills.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Multiple-choice/short answer exam: Twenty question exam (15 multiple choice, 5 short answer). This assessment assists students in developing their ability to Identify and describe key institutions and policies of the juvenile justice system.



GA5, GA6, GA9

Arrest Warrant: Students will be asked to prepare an arrest warrant, in the style of the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court. This assessment builds knowledge around the criminal offences in international law and the procedural requirements at the International Criminal Court. It also develops the ability to apply this knowledge to a real example in a practical form.


LO1, LO2

GA4, GA5, GA6, GA9

Research Essay: Students will be asked to write an essay on an issue in International Criminal Law. This assessment is designed to develop students’ research skills, their knowledge of International Criminal Law and their ability to communicate their knowledge in a critical manner.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9

Representative texts and references

Cryer R, Robinson D, & Vasiliev S, An Introduction to International Criminal Law and Procedure  (4th ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019.

Bantekas I & Mylonaki E, eds., Criminological Approaches to International Criminal Law, 2014.

Cassese A et al, International Criminal Law: Cases & Commentary, 2011.

Cryer B, Robins D & Sergey V, An Introduction to International Criminal Law and Procedure, 4th edition, 2019.

Stahn C, A Critical Introduction to International Criminal Law, 2018.

Schabas W & Bernaz N, Routledge Handbook of International Criminal Law, 2011.

Werle G & Jeßberger, F, Principles of International Criminal Law, 4th edition, 2020.

Boas G et al, International Criminal Law Practitioner Library: Volume 3: International Criminal Procedure (The International Criminal Law Practitioner), 2011.

Heller K et al, The Oxford Handbook of International Criminal Law, 2020.

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