Module code: LAWM144

Module Overview

This module is intended to introduce students to the law of international investment protection, with an intensive focus on the study and analysis of arbitral awards and the text of international instruments such as the ICSID Convention, the Bilateral Investment Treaties (BIT) and Free Trade Agreements like the NAFTA.

The analysis of the investment international regime will be systematically integrated with reference to the issues of globalization, sovereignty and regulatory autonomy, protection of non-economic values and human rights.

Module provider

School of Law

Module Leader

DU Ming (Schl of Law)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

JACs code: M200

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

  • The economic rationale of investment treaties and an analysis of the reasons causing nations to enter investment treaties, in particular developing economies;

  • The origins of investment protection in diplomatic immunity, a history of bilateral and multilateral investment legislation;

  • A description of the ICSID multilateral framework and of the non-ICSID facilities available for investment arbitration;

  • The role of international law in investment arbitration, in particular, the law of treaties and the law of state responsibility;

  • Jurisdictional issues: the concept of consent in investor-State arbitration, the definition of investment, the identification of the nationality of the investment/investor;

  • The principles of National Treatment and Most Favoured Nation;

  • A study of the substantive standards of investment protection to be found in legal texts: Full Protection and Security, Fair and Equitable Treatment;

  • A study of the definition of expropriation, and the protection afforded against regulatory takings;

  • Umbrella Clauses and protection of investment against breaches of contract;

  • The exceptions and defenses, in particular the defense based on the state of necessity;

  • The annulment procedure and the reviewability of awards in national courts;

  • The stance of the European Union towards Foreign Direct Investment and the existing BITs of the Member States;

  • The role of non-economic values and Human Rights in the context of investment protection law.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework 3,000 WORD COURSEWORK 100

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate achievement of the module outcomes. In particular, it aims at testing the students’ ability to use the knowledge acquired in a critical way. The questions of the assignment will relate to the topics discussed in class. To obtain a high mark, students will be expected to structure their answer non-descriptively, rely on primary and secondary sources, refer to the doctrinal debates and the reading materials, as well as exercise independent thinking. Questions can cover both essay questions and problem-based questions.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of the writing of a 3.000-word coursework.

The students will choose to answer one among a range of questions, both of essay-like nature or problem questions.

The marking shall be carried out in compliance with the grade descriptors included in the Handbook and approved by the Faculty. They are designed to reward critical analysis, solidity of research, clarity of structure and writing, substantive correctness and originality, rigorous style and referencing.

A mark on the dissertation. The mark will be agreed between two markers of the School’s staff. The dissertation can be submitted to the scrutiny of an external examiner.

Formative assessment and feedback

Approximately half-way through the module, students will have a chance to write a formative coursework (1.500 words). The purpose of the formative assessment is to receive individual feedback on a preparatory exercise to the summative assessment, so as to achieve familiarity with the topics of the module and the methods of coursework-writing.

Module aims

  • To provide an understanding of the theoretical foundations of the opening to, and protection of, foreign direct investments at the international and regional level;
  • To provide an introduction to the application of international norms relating to international investments, with a close focus on the treaty texts and the arbitral case-law;
  • To enable students to discuss critically the applicable rules and the factual issues to which they apply, with reference to ongoing and potential investment disputes;
  • To introduce students to key issues in the interplay between investment regulation and other societal values or political concerns of national governments and societies;
  • To provide students with an introduction to investor-State litigation, and to litigation techniques used in international arbitration proceedings.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 To place analysis of investment protection law in a broader normative framework, and appreciate legal and policy spill-overs across different normative regimes KC
002 To grasp and examine contemporary debates about foreign investment and non-economic values, such as environment, labour protection, and development KT
003 To have a fair command of the discipline of investment protection, both of customary and treaty nature KC
004 To evaluate the impact of the investment commitments on domestic legal systems, and assess the role of investment protection in international relations KC
005 To read and understand rapidly very long arbitral awards, and distinguish the parts thereof that contain the decisive legal and factual determinations PT
006 To appreciate the legal dynamics of investor-State litigation, weighing the arguments and the position of the disputing parties and the respective interests PT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Overall student workload

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

Improve and support students’ studying skills, through intensive exposure to primary sources and discussion in class. Increase students’ awareness of the relevance of investment protection law issues to modern society and world politics.

Encourage and assess (see below) students’ knowledge of the basics of investment protection law, with additional readings and case-studies for the discussion in class and the presentation. Seminars will be based on the students’ preparation and readiness to report and discuss the materials. The tutor’s aim will be that of moderating a discussion and training the critical thinking of the students.

The learning and teaching methods include:

10 2-hour seminars.

Each seminar will be divided in two parts: in the first part the lecturer will revise and explain the subject, in the second part (30’) 2/3 students will be expected to give a presentation relating to some advanced aspects of the topic of the day, or to form groups to discuss specific aspects of additional materials. Students will be expected to come prepared for the seminar and engage actively in discussions and group-work on new questions. Students will be provided with default reading materials, but different groups of them will prepare additional materials, for the purpose of in-class discussion.

Even though students are expected to learn autonomously using the assigned readings, the seminars are structured in a way to ensure that learning is consolidated and possible doubts are tackled and solved. Discussion and debate are encouraged, both on the general subject and the specific ones forming the subject of student presentations.

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list


Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Public Affairs MSc 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
International Commercial Law LLM 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2018/9 academic year.