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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Postgraduate Course: WTO Law (LAWS11267)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Law CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits40 ECTS Credits20
SummaryThe aim of the course is to provide students with an advanced knowledge and critical understanding of the regulatory framework of the world trading system, covering both the institutional and substantive law of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which has played a central role in promoting and regulating international trade liberalisation since its establishment on 1 January 1995.

Students will begin by reflecting on the theoretical arguments for and against international trade liberalisation and on the role of law and institutions in international trade relations. Three seminars of the course will then be dedicated to the institutional structure and decision-making processes of the WTO, including its unique system for the resolution of international trade disputes. Subsequently, students will explore the key legal disciplines relating to international trade in goods and services, such as the core non-discrimination principles, market access disciplines and rules on dumping, subsidisation and product standards. Students will then engage with other substantive areas of WTO law, such as the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights and the principle of special and differential treatment of developing countries. In addition, students will consider how WTO law interacts with other areas of international law and the extent to which WTO members can use trade measures to pursue other (non-trade) values, such as the protection of public health or the environment. Students will be further exposed to some of the contemporary challenges facing the WTO, including the impasse of the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations and the proliferation of regional trade agreements, as well as to broader issues in global economic governance, such as inter-institutional cooperation and coherence, transparency and public participation.

Course description This anticipated course is structured as follows, however, this may be subject to change:

Semester 1
1. Introduction to the course
2. Institutions and History
3. Dispute Settlement - part one
4. Dispute Settlement - part two
5. Market Access
(One week break for flexible learning week - no teaching)
6. National Treatment
7. MFN
8. General Exceptions
9. 'Unfair Trade': Subsidies
10. 'Unfair Trade': Dumping

Semester 2
1. TBT Agreement
2. SPS Agreement
4. SPS
5. Free Trade Agreements - part one
(One week break for flexible learning week - no teaching)
6. Free Trade Agreements - part two
7. China in the Trading System
8. Developing Countries and Global Trade
9. WTO and Brexit
10. Revision Class
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Although there are no pre-requisites, students will benefit from having prior knowledge of public international law
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. To gain in-depth knowledge and understanding of the WTO institutional structure and decision-making processes as well as of core legal concepts and disciplines on international trade;
  2. 2. To acquire an ability to critically assess the role played by the different WTO bodies and to evaluate possible institutional reforms, as well as to critically analyse key WTO rules and related case law and to consider their practical implications and possible avenues for legal development (e.g., possible amendments to, or/and alternative interpretations of, existing WTO rules);
  3. 3. To acquire an ability to engage with contemporary legal and policy debates on WTO law, with a view to reflecting on alternative approaches and viewpoints on controversial issues;
  4. 4. To further develop skills of application of the law and legal problem-solving, by considering both real WTO cases and hypothetical legal scenarios (via class exercises and course assessment);
  5. 5. To further develop the ability to conduct independent research, to synthesise and evaluate material from a variety of relevant primary and secondary sources, and to articulate, sustain and defend a line of argument, in both written and oral form (via course assessment)
Reading List
Please see above on recommended preliminary reading for students with no background in public international law. In addition, as an introduction to the WTO and international trade issues, students are advised to read: A. Narlikar, The World Trade Organization: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2005).

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills 1. Generic cognitive skills: ability to exercise informed and rigorous analysis as well as critical and independent judgment of complex legal/policy issues;

2. Communication/IT skills: ability to express information and arguments in a succinct, coherent and persuasive manner, both orally and in writing (via course assessment), while remaining open to discuss and learn from other points of view (via class exercises active seminar participation). Ability to locate legal and other sources through library and IT resources, as well as to present written and oral work in a appropriate format;

3. Autonomy/accountability: ability to work autonomously in preparing for seminars and completing the course assessment, while seeking advice when appropriate and incorporating feedback received. Ability to manage time and deliver work within externally imposed deadlines.

KeywordsWorld Trade Organization,WTO law,international trade law and policy
Course organiserProf Andrew Lang
Tel: (0131) 650 2921
Course secretaryMr David Morris
Tel: (0131 6)50 2010
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