84520 - Public International Law

Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Francesca Ragno

  • Learning modules Francesca Ragno (Modulo 1)
    Francesca Ragno (Modulo 2)
    Carmelo Danisi (Modulo 3)
    (Modulo 4)

  • Credits 10

  • SSD IUS/13

  • Teaching Mode Traditional lectures (Modulo 1)
    Traditional lectures (Modulo 2)
    Traditional lectures (Modulo 3)
    Traditional lectures (Modulo 4)

  • Language English

  • Campus of Forli

  • Degree Programme First cycle degree programme (L) in International relations and diplomatic affairs (cod. 8048)

  • Course Timetable from Feb 19, 2024 to May 23, 2024


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education Gender equality Reduced inequalities Peace, justice and strong institutions

Academic Year 2023/2024

Learning outcomes

The course gives an overview of the current structure of the international community and the international legal system, dedicating a particular attention to some specific issues as the norms regulating the use of force. At the end of the course, the student is expected to have the basic knowledge and tools to analyse the most significant events which occur within the international community from the legal point of view.

Course contents

A) First Module

The first module addresses the following key basic aspects of Public International Law:

1. Historical evolution and current features of the international community from a legal perspective;

2. The subjects of the international legal system;

3. The sources: customary law, treaties, sources issued by specific agreements;

4. Jus cogens and relationships between sources of international law;

5. The application of international norms within a country:

6. The law of State responsibility.

B) Second Module

The second module will cover the law on the use of force (jus ad bellum).


A) First module

  • Handbook:

One of the following handbooks:

1. International law, Jan Klabbers, CUP, 2021

2. International Law, Malcolm N. Shaw, CUP, 2021

Selected chapters for each handbook will be communicated in class at the start of the teaching term. Please note that some copies of listed handbooks are available for consultation at the Ruffilli Library of the Forli’ campus.

  • Documents:

The following documents should be consulted regularly during the teaching term: the UN Charter, the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, the Vienna Convention on Succession of States in respect of Treaties, the Italian Constitution, the ILC’s Drafts Articles on International Responsibility.

A copy of each document will be available for downloading on Virtuale – Unibo’s virtual learning space – before the start of the teaching term.

Students particularly interested in the study of public international law can also buy an International Law Documents collection.

B) Second module

Handbook: The Use of Force and International Law, Christian Henderson, CUP, 2023.

Additional reading materials for classes to be circulated at a later date.

C) Additional recommended readings and online resources:

Students particularly interested in international law issues can also consult:

- An Introduction to International Organizations Law, J. Klabbers, CUP, 2022;

- Cyber Operations and International Law, F. Delerue, CUP, 2021;

- International Humanitarian Law, E. Crawford and A. Pert, CUP, 2018;

- The Oxford Handbook of International Refugee Law, edited by C. Costello, M. Foster, J. McAdam, 2021.

Other specific suggestions to be given at the start of the teaching term upon request.

Regular consultation of the following free online resources are highly recommended to be familiar with recent international law-based analyses:

- https://legal.un.org/avl/ls/internationallaw.html

- https://legal.un.org/ilc/

- https://www.icj-cij.org/en

- https://www.ejiltalk.org

- https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/american-journal-of-international-law/ajil-unbound

- www.sidiblog.org

Further readings will be suggested in class and/or uploaded onto Virtuale.

Teaching methods

Face-to-face teaching, interactive seminars and case studies exercises.

Assessment methods

The assessment of the course consists of three mid-term written tests (two for the first module – see A and B below; one for the second module, see C below), plus a final oral assessment.

A) First module (two tests, each one counting for 33% of the final score)

The first test is made up of 30 multiple-choice questions + 1 open question on the topics covered under items 1 and 2 of the first module's programme (see above). Students’ answers will be assessed as follows: 1 point for each correct answer to multiple-choice questions and maximum 3 points for the short answer to the open question. Therefore, maximum score is 30 cum laude (33 points awarded in total), minimum score to pass is 18 (18 points awarded in total).

The second test includes three open questions to be answered in a logical and complete way. Both analytical skills and presentation of arguments will be assessed. The second test will cover items 3, 4 and 5 of the first module's programme (see above). Maximum 10 points for each answer will be awarded (candidates should reach at least 18 points to pass).

B) Second module (counting for the 34% of the final score)

The third test will consist of a mock case and will be awarded up to 30 points.

C) Final examination and other general rules, including for non-attending students

The final oral examination aims at assessing students' general preparation. In order to get a final positive mark, each of the three mid-term tests should be successful (i.e. awarded with 18 or more). The final mark will be given by the average of all marks obtained, i.e. three mid-term tests + final oral examination.

Students who have succeeded at least in one of the three mid-term tests can be evaluated directly at the final oral examination. During the final examination, students have the possibility to be orally re-assessed in relation to one or two mid-terms tests if they have not reached the minimum mark to pass the test(s).

Non-attending students and students that do not have passed any mid-term tests cannot be directly assessed at the final oral examination. They will need to pass a preliminary written test. This test is made up of 15 multiple-choice questions and will be held on the same day of the final oral examination. In order to be admitted to the oral examination and evaluated on the entire programme, these students have to provide a minimum of 11 correct answers.

According to the rules established by the University, during the spring exam session (June-July 2024) students can choose only one out of the three scheduled dates for final examination. If, at the oral examination, a student does not reach the minimum mark or does not accept the final grade, s/he/they can try again in September 2024 (one available date only).

Teaching tools

Virtuale for both modules. EOL might be used for mid-term exams. Additional teaching tools will be indicated in class.

Office hours

See the website of Francesca Ragno

See the website of Carmelo Danisi

See the website of