LWMIRL-International Refugee Law

Module Provider: School of Law
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Dr Ruvi Ziegler

Email: r.ziegler@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:
This module explores a major area of public international law that regulates a (limited) exception to the principles of state sovereignty and migration control. The 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees concerns the protection of persons who have crossed an international border and are outside their state of origin owing to a well-founded fear of persecution in that state for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion. Global debates continue regarding the nature of the protection that refugees should be granted, the role of the international community, and the obligations of states of asylum. The module will provide students with a critical understanding of the international regime of refugee protection by highlighting its virtues and shortcomings. The first session will explore the history, structure, and aims of the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. Subsequently, the module considers criteria for the attainment (‘inclusion’), exclusion from, and cessation of refugee status; the non-refoulement principle; complementary and subsidiary protection regimes; challenges arising in the context of displacement from conflict; and a case-study of the treatment of African asylum-seekers in Israel. The module concludes by appraising the limits of the international refugee protection.

The module examines international refugee law through abstract assessment of the law itself, but also through detailed assessment of real world examples that highlight the law (including its possible shortcomings) in practice. The aim is for students to gain a detailed substantive understanding of contemporary international refugee law, but also to understand both its value and limitations in practice. In addition, the module aims to provide some theoretical underpinning to this substantive knowledge and to question, amongst other things, the policy implications of the balance that is struck in contemporary international law between national sovereignty and the protection of ‘convention refugees’ (as well as other forced migrants).

Assessable learning outcomes:
On completion of the module, students will be expected to be able to:

•Draw upon a body of detailed substantive knowledge gained through both class participation and self-study, and apply this to contemporary dilemmas arising in the refugee field in an assessed piece of written work.
•Demonstrate a solid understanding of the institutional, procedural and substantive aspects of the international refugee law system, as well as its location in the international legal order.
•Demonstrate an ability to set the substantive law content of the module in a wider context, both legal and non-legal.
•Critically evaluate the protection offered by international refugee law, its virtues and shortcomings.
•Critically analyse the legal topics examined,.
•Demonstrate high-level oral communication skills (in view of the fact that the module is orientated towards small group teaching and independent study).

Additional outcomes:
These outcomes are in addition to those listed in the School's ‘core skills statement’.

Outline content:
Topics will include the following:
•International global framework for refugee protection
•Refugee Status Determination: inclusion
•The refugee definition and its interpretation: gender and sexual orientation
•Refugee Status Determination: exclusion
•Refugee rights and cessation of refugee status
•Non-refoulement and interdiction
•Complementary and subsidiary protection
•Displacement from conflict
•Case-study: Treatment of African Asylum Seekers in Israel
•The reach of refugee law

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Teaching in this module is designed to provide students with a range of resources on which they can draw in their learning. The main elements are:
•A list of required and recommended readings, with notes and questions that will be used to guide class discussion and reflection.
•Ten weekly seminar classes of 2 hours each.
•Students will prepare a 10 - 15 minute ‘case-study’ presentation on a case where a question relating to the refugee protection regime has arisen. Formative feedback will be provided in writing following this presentation.

Where there are School of Law seminars relevant to the area then students in the module will be encouraged to attend and will be given the opportunity to discuss the issues with visiting academics.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 20
Guided independent study 180
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 100

Other information on summative assessment:
An assessed essay of no more than 15 pages (formatted in accordance with the School of Law’s Assessed Work Rules).

Formative assessment methods:
One compulsory non-assessed presentation of 10-15 minutes (during a seminar), on which the students will receive formative written feedback.

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information: http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/exams/student/exa-guidePG.aspx

Length of examination:

Requirements for a pass:
50% overall

Reassessment arrangements:
See School of Law PGT Programme handbook

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
1) Required text books:
2) Specialist equipment or materials:
3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
4) Printing and binding:
5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

Last updated: 21 December 2016

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