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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Undergraduate Course: WTO Law (LAWS10169)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Law CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
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 in April 1994. The course will focus in particular on the disciplines governing trade in goods, services and the trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights.
Course description The course will first introduce students 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, including the core principles of non-discrimination and rules on market access. In the second part of the course, students will consider instances in which WTO members may deviate from their basic obligations under WTO law, notably to use trade-restrictive measures in order to promote and protect other (non-trade) values and interests, such as the protection of public health or the environment. Finally, students will be exposed to some of the contemporary challenges facing the WTO, including development issues and the proliferation of regional trade agreements. In the second half of Semester 2, the course will explore areas outside the regulation of trade in goods, namely the disciplines relating to services and intellectual property rights.

Seminar 1. Introduction to the course/Introduction to the WTO: Membership, Institutional Structure and Decision-Making Procedures
Seminar 2. The WTO Dispute Settlement System (1): Principles and Process
Seminar 3. The WTO Dispute Settlement System (2): Implementation and Enforcement; Transparency and Participation
Seminar 4. Trade in Goods (1): GATT Rules on Market Access and MFN
Seminar 5. Trade in Goods (2): GATT Rules on National Treatment
Seminar 6. Trade in Goods (3): GATT General Exceptions
Seminar 7. Trade and Development: S&D Treatment
Seminar 8. Trade in Services
Seminar 9. Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights
Seminar 10. WTO and Regional Trade Agreements
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Spaces on this course are allocated as part of the Law Honours Course Allocation process. Places are generally only available to students who must take Law courses. To request a space on this course, please email

Students would benefit from having prior knowledge of international law
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesThis course is only open to visiting students coming through a direct exchange with the School of Law (including Erasmus students on a Law-specific Exchange). Exchange students outside of Law and independent study abroad students are not eligible to enrol in this course, with no exceptions.

**Please note that 3rd year Law courses are high-demand, meaning that they have a very high number of students wishing to enrol in a very limited number of spaces.**
Priority will be given to students studying on exchange within the Law department, and it is highly unlikely that there will be additional spaces for general exchange students & independent study abroad students to enrol; we will look into this on a case-by-case basis in September/January. Visiting students are advised to bear in mind that enrolment in specific courses can never be guaranteed, and you may need to be flexible in finding alternatives in case your preferred courses have no available space.

These enrolments are managed strictly by the Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department, and all enquiries to enrol in these courses must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office. It is not appropriate for students to contact the department directly to request additional spaces.

Students would benefit from having prior knowledge of international law
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 90 %, Coursework 10 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 90% exam

10% class participation
Feedback Students have the opportunity to undertake a practice assignment. It allows students to get feedback. Completion of the formative assessment is voluntary; the topics are distributed during week 5. The assignments are due in week 7, and the feedback is provided within 15 days from submission.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Navigate and apply WTO law. This includes the ability to assess and evaluate critically the WTO law implications of past, current and future trade policies and regulations of any country.
  2. Appreciate, identify and assess the role of law in global society. This course endows the students with the ability to interpret the legal foundations and implications of global political, economic and social trends. To a more limited extent, students will be encouraged to analyse the necessity of legal reforms, and provide workable suggestions.
  3. Use lawyering skills. Students are exposed to tasks and activities that hone their transferable skills and prove useful in their career-path. These tasks include: parsing long documents, decoding scholarly commentary, engaging in legal hermeneutics, assessing litigation strategies, inferring general trends, weighing conflicting interests, arguing in public.
  4. Think critically. Besides understanding and memorising materials, students are trained to question received knowledge. This is based on the study of advanced commentaries and the discussion with colleagues and lecturers.
  5. Form personal views and share them with an audience. In-class participation is designed to encourage the fomulation of personal ideas. The discussion format will support and train students to confront and exchange ideas. Clarity and incisiveness are crucial to fully benefit from in-class discussion (oral communication) and fare well in the assessment (written communication).
Reading List
A fundamental resource for the course are the primary materials (agreements, judicial and other decisions, legal and policy documents) of the WTO, which can be freely downloaded from the organisation┬┐s website ( All students are expected to engage with these materials and should therefore familiarise themselves as soon as possible with locating such materials through the WTO website. Of particular importance are:

GATT/WTO legal texts:

WTO dispute settlement documents:

WTO Analytical Index (guide to the interpretation and application of the WTO agreements):

WTO publications (research/analysis):

Students are recommended to purchase a textbook for the course, albeit reading lists will be drawn from a variety of materials. Perhaps the best textbook in this field is: P. van den Bossche and Werner Zdouc, The Law and Policy of the World Trade Organization (Cambridge University Press, 3rd edition, 2013)

Alternative textbooks are:
P.C. Mavroidis, Trade in Goods (Oxford University Press, 2013)
J.H. Jackson, W.J. Davey and A.O. Sykes, Legal Problems of International Economic Relations: Cases, Materials and Text on the National and International Regulation of Transnational Economic Relations (West Group, 4th edition, 2002)
S. Lester, B. Mercurio, A. Davies, World Trade Law: Text, Materials and Commentary (Hart Publishing, 2nd edition, 2012)
M. Matsushita, T.J. Schoenbaum and P.C. Mavroidis, The World Trade Organization: Law, Practice and Policy (Oxford University Press, 2nd edition, 2006)
M. Trebilcock, R. Howse and A. Eliason, The Regulation of International Trade (Routledge, 4th edition, 2012)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsWorld Trade Organisation,Law,International Trade
Course organiserProf Andrew Lang
Tel: (0131) 650 2921
Course secretaryMiss Emma Hughes
Tel: (0131 6)50 2008
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