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Study information

International Trade and Society

Module titleInternational Trade and Society
Module codeLAWM177
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Dr Swati Gola (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

International trade is at the heart of world economy. Yet, the World Trade Organisation rules came under scrutiny for the way they affected societies. In this module you will discuss how WTO laws have raised issues regarding domestic regulation, food security, environment, public health and human rights. You will have a close look at the Agreements and at fundamental principles of non-discrimination as well as at their application and their interpretation by the WTO dispute settlement bodies. Due to the importance of these issues for domestic and global economy and the increasing number of inter-State trade agreements, the legal job market is looking for graduates who have adequate knowledge in this field. Therefore this module is suitable for anyone interested in a career in international trade and policy. The module doesn’t require any prior knowledge or skills.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The module aims to provide students with a deeper understanding of international trade law under the auspices of the World Trade Organisation and its application by the Member states. Upon conclusion of the module, students will have a deeper knowledge of the institutional mechanism of the WTO, including the dispute resolution mechanism. Through the research led case-studies, they will also develop profound understanding of the socio-political and economic implications of the operationalisation of international trade laws on domestic policy making. Topics to be covered include, inter alia, Most Favoured Nation and National Treatment principles of non-discrimination, Agreement on Agriculture, food subsidies and food security, Subsidies and Countervailing Measures Agreement and Renewable energies, GATS (General Agreement on Trade in Services) , medical tourism and the right to health, TRIPS (Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) and access to medicine, General Exceptions.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Demonstrate ability to analyse critically the substance and application of the major concepts and principles of WTO law as interpreted by the dispute settlement body of the WTO;
  • 2. Undertake complex critical evaluation of the main legal rules and procedures relevant to dispute resolution mechanism using specialist literature and research;
  • 3. Demonstrate deep and critical awareness of a wide range of social and contextual implications of the relationships between the WTO law and the regulation of international business activity;
  • 4. Identify, explain and evaluate some of the current challenges that governments face in implementing the WTO agreements in national jurisdictions critically and comprehensively and review the future development of the WTO rules innovatively;

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. Demonstrate detailed and comprehensive knowledge and understanding of legal concepts and their critical awareness and social implications;
  • 6. Analyse some of the potential and actual impacts that the implementation of WTO rules pose for governments in pursuing their own trade policies;
  • 7. Integrate and assess a range of complex information affecting policy options available to governments in developing and applying the regulation of international trade based on your knowledge and analysis of existing research and literature;

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 8. Confidently manage relevant learning resources, information and strategies so as to develop your own legal opinions;
  • 9. Identify, retrieve and use the full range of relevant library-based and electronic resources and information dealing with the regulation of international trade efficiently and autonomously in order to develop your own arguments and opinions with minimum guidance;
  • 10. Effectively communicate in writing in a manner appropriate to the discipline.

Syllabus plan

Whilst the precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover all or some of the following topics:

  • The WTO as an institution and its dispute settlement system
  • Principles of non-discrimination: MFN and NT and their role for sustainable environment
  • Subsidies and Countervailing Measures
  • Trade in services, public services and the human right to health
  • Agreement on agriculture and food security
  • Intellectual properties, medicine and global health

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching13.59 x 1.5 hrs weekly seminars (5 of which will be lecturer-led)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching1.51 x 1.5 hrs formative presentation session
Guided Independent Study60Preparation for the case studies to be presented in class.
Guided Independent Study75Preparation for formative and summative assignments.

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Poster500 words1-10Individual written feedback (with oral feedback upon request)

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Project Based essay1002500 words1-10Individual written feedback (with oral feedback upon request)

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Project based essay (2500 words)Project based essay (2500 words)1-10Referral/Deferral period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Peter van den Bossche, Denise Prevost, Essentials of WTO law (CUP, 2016).
  • Joost H.B. Pauwelyn, Andrew Guzman, Jennifer A. Hillman, International Trade Law (3rd ed., Wolters Kluwer / Aspen Publishers, 2016).
  • Simon Lester, Bryan Mercurio & Arwel Davies, World Trade Law: Text, Materials and Commentary (3rd ed., Hart, 2018).
  • Jackson, J., The World Trading System (MIT Press, 1997).
  • Jackson, J. et al, Legal Problems of International Economic Relations: Cases, Materials & Text (4th ed.,West Publishing, 2002).
  • Peter van den Bossche, The Law and Policy of The World Trade Organisation (2nd ed., CUP, 2008).
  • Krugman P. & Obstfeld, M., International Economics: Theory and Policy (6th ed., Pearson, 2003).
  • Lowenfeld, A., International Economic Law (OUP, 2002).
  • Lester, Mercurio & Davies, World Trade law: Text, Materials and Commentary (2nd ed., Hart 2012).
  • Matsushita, Shoenbaum & Mavroidis, The World Trade Organisation (2nd ed., OUP, 2006).
  • Trebilcock, Howse & Eliason, The Regulation of International Trade (4th ed., Routledge, 2012).


There are several journals which increasingly include articles on WTO law. The mainstream journals on WTO law are the:

  • Journal of International Economic Law (JIEL)
  • Manchester Journal of International Economic Law (MJIEL)
  • The Journal of World Trade
  • Georgetown Journal of International Law
  • World Trade Review – Economics Law International Institutions
  • University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Economic Law

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

  • WTO legal texts: .
  • WTO case law: or . These websites contain the full text of adopted GATT reports and WTO panel, appeal and arbitration rulings along with updates of all WTO dispute settlement cases.
  • WTO Analytical Index, Interpretations and Application of WTO Agreements
  • There is also a WTO document with one-page summaries and the main findings of each WTO dispute, available at: .
  • (The Law School has a subscription and so you can access every section of it: check with the library for login and passwords.)
  • (official website of the World Trade Organisation)
  • (European Commission, DG Trade)
  • (official US government trade website) (insider information on trade developments)
  • (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development)
  • (the World Bank website)
  • (The World Intellectual Property Organisation)
  • (UN Conference on Trade and Development)
  • (International Trade Center (UNCTAD/WTO))

Key words search

WTO, International Trade Law, World Trade Law

Credit value15
Module ECTS


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