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International law of the sea

Module information>

Academic Direction
UCL, Queen Mary University of London
Modes of Study

Each section of this course is designed to introduce you to different areas within the International Law of the Sea. Altogether the course is designed to provide you with a comprehensive picture from evolution to the current application of the law of the sea. After completing this course you will have a very good understanding of the current regime of the law governing human activity in the seas and oceans around the globe. You will also be introduced to various competing arguments surrounding these laws and how the laws have been interpreted by various courts and tribunals.

Module A: Evolution of the law of the sea


  • Pre-UN developments
  • The four Geneva Conventions on the law of the sea

Module B: Baselines, the territorial sea and the contiguous zone


  • The law on drawing baselines
  • The rights of states in their territorial sea
  • The right of innocent passage of other states
  • Rights and duties in the contiguous zone.

Module C: The continental shelf and the Exclusive Economic Zone


  • Definition and drawing of the continental shelf
  • Rights of States in the continental shelf
  • The concept of the EEZ
  • Rights and duties of States in the EEZ and its delimitation.

Module D: The high seas, the sea-bed and dispute resolution


  • The notion of the freedoms of the high seas
  • The legal status of the sea-bed and its resources
  • The International Seabed Authority
  • Dispute settlement mechanism in the law of the sea.


Each module will be assessed by a 45-minute unseen written examination.


It is strongly recommended you complete Module A first.

How to apply

You can apply to study a module individually as a standalone unit or as part of a Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma or Master of Laws qualification. (In either scenario, they must be studied in order.)

Please note that modules of this course cannot be taken in conjunction with modules of course LWM84 Maritime dispute settlement.

These modules also contribute towards the following specialist pathways for Laws:

  • Economic Regulation
  • Environmental and Natural Resources Law
  • International Dispute Resolution
  • International Justice
  • Law and Development
  • Maritime Law
  • Public International Law

Apply via Postgraduate Laws