LAWSG013 World Trade Organisation and Trade Linkages in the World Trade Organisation, The

Credit value: 30 credits (15 ECTS, 300 learning hours)
Convenor: Gracia Marín Durán
Other Teachers: None
Teaching Delivery: 20 x 2-hour weekly lectures, 10 seminars per term, Term One and Two
Who may enrol: LLM students only
Prerequisites: Students who have never studied public international law are strongly recommended to do one of the preliminary readings listed below
Must not be taken with: None
Qualifying module for: LLM in International Law
Introductory video Currently there is no introductory video for this module
Practice Assessment: Opportunity for feedback on one practice essay or case exercise
Final Assessment: One 3,000-word essay (50%) and one 2-hour unseen written examination (50%)
Module Overview
Module summary:

The aim of the course is to provide students with an advanced knowledge and critical understanding of the regulatory framework of the multilateral 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 relations 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 and market access rules, as well rules on subsidies, trade remedies and product standards. Students will then examine 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 on-going Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations, the proliferation of regional trade agreements, the relationship between trade and energy, and the organisation’s role in global governance.


Upon completion of this course, students should have acquired:

  1. An in-depth knowledge and understanding of the WTO institutional structure and decision-making processes, as well as of its core legal concepts and disciplines on international trade;
  2. An ability to critically assess the role played by the different WTO bodies and to think constructively about possibilities for institutional reform, as well as to critically analyse WTO rules and related case law and to evaluate their practical implications and possible avenues for legal development (e.g., amendments to, or/and alternative interpretations of, existing WTO rules);
  3. An ability to engage with contemporary legal and policy debates on WTO law and on its interface with other international legal regimes, and to develop a capacity for innovative thinking on controversial trade and non-trade issues;
  4. An 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;
  5. Skills of application of the law and legal problem-solving, by considering both real WTO cases and hypothetical legal scenarios.
Module syllabus:

This module will be structured as follows:

  1. Introduction to the course
  2. Economic Globalisation – Theoretical Underpinnings and Policy Debates
  3. The World Trade Organisation – Institutional Structure, Membership and Decision-making
  4. The WTO Dispute Settlement System (1) – Principles and Process
  5. The WTO Dispute Settlement System (2) – Implementation/Enforcement and Evaluation
  6. Trade in Goods (1) – Market Access and Most-Favoured Nation Treatment (GATT)
  7. Trade in Goods (2) – National Treatment (GATT)
  8. Trade in Goods (3) – Export Restraints on Raw Materials
  9. General Exceptions (1) – Public Health/Environmental Protection
  10. General Exceptions (2) – Protection of Public Morals and Security
  11. Trade in Goods (4) – Rules on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (SCM Agreement)
  12. Trade in Goods (5) – Rules on Dumping and Anti-Dumping Measures (AD Agreement)
  13. Trade in Goods (6) – Rules on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement)
  14. Trade in Goods (7) – Rules on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement)
  15. Trade in Services – GATS
  16. Trade, Intellectual Property Protection and Public Health – TRIPS
  17. WTO and Regional Trade Agreements – Regional Integration Exceptions
  18. Trade and Development – Special and Differential Treatment
  19. Trade and Energy
  20. Coherence in Global Economic Policy-Making – WTO and Bretton Woods Institutions
Recommended materials:

Students are recommended to purchase a copy of the textbook for this module, which is: P. van den Bossche, The Law and Policy of the World Trade Organization (Cambridge University Press, 4th edition, 2017). Other core materials will be WTO primary sources (i.e., WTO agreements, dispute settlement reports and other legal/policy decisions), which can be freely downloaded from the WTO website (

Module reading lists and other module materials will be provided via online module pages, available at the beginning of term once students have enrolled.

Preliminary reading:

Students who have never studied public international law are strongly recommended to do one of the following preliminary readings before the start of the course:

  • Dixon, Textbook on International Law (Oxford University Press, 7th edition, 2013), particularly chapters 1-3 and 10; OR
  • M. N. Shaw, International Law (Cambridge University Press, 7th edition, 2014), particularly chapters 1-3, 16 and 18.

In addition, as an introduction to the WTO and international trade issues, students are advised to read:

  • Narlikar, The World Trade Organization: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2005); OR
  • van den Bossche and D. Prévost, Essentials of WTO Law (Cambridge University Press, 2016).