The purpose of this module is to provide students with a profound understanding of the law applicable to one of the most dynamic areas of international law, the international law of the sea. The seas are critical to States interests and human prosperity, being a highway for commerce, a shared resource and a conduit for threats to security. They cover 70% of the earth’s surface, account for 90% of the world’s international trade and provide 40% of the food consumed in the developing world. In this context, the law of the sea is assuming a new prominence in international affairs, from questions of environmental protection and offshore resource exploitation, to legal contests over living resources rendered more vulnerable by overexploitation, and even regarding the risk of maritime terrorism and smuggling weapons of mass destruction. Moreover, the contribution that the law of the sea has made to the development of general international law (e.g. from the publication of the ‘great treatise’ Mare Liberum in 1609by Grotius to the detailed considerationof the formation of customary international law in the 1969 North Sea Continental Shelf Cases) has been unique. It has also been an area of intensive treaty-making activity principally under UN auspices with innovations in international law-making (e.g. the ‘package deal’ and consensus approach to treaty-making) and with remarkable adaptability to modern challenges, like the protection of the marine environment. Such is its continued vitality that the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention is often referred to as a ‘constitution for the oceans’ and as a ‘living instrument’.


Upon completion of the course, the student will be able to

  • understand and approach the rules, policies, and principles of this area of international law in a critical and analytical manner;
  • discuss the major issues and the latest developments in the law of the sea
  • interpret legal sources, including treaties, case-law and literature, in the field of international law of the sea
  •  identify and resolve legal problems involving the public international law of the sea
  • have an appreciation of the underlying issues of policy at stake and how they mediate, and are mediated by, the legal framework
  • assess the impact of law of the sea on general international law and contemporary international relations.



This course will approach the law of the sea in the context of new developments and concerns, focusing upon issues relevant to the Eastern Mediterranean. These include: coastal state jurisdiction; freedom of navigation and passage; the high seas regime, including migration, maritime security and enforcement activities; energy at sea; protection of the marine environment; fisheries; maritime delimitation; dispute settlement and responsibility.

Academic Requirements

Participants are required to have at least some basic previous knowledge of Public International Law

Teaching method

This course is taught by weekly two-hour seminars, which requires a high degree of student activity. Students are expected to make presentations and participate in the seminars by replying and discussing short problem and essay questions. They may also be asked to contribute to the seminars with short work assignments.


The course is taught by Associate Professor Maria Gavouneli and Assistant Professor George Kyriakopoulos with the active and substantive participation of Dr Efthymios Papastavridis.

Assessment and testing

  • Written exam, open-book, problem questions- 2 hours (50%)
  • Presentations, participation in the seminar and one short paper assignment (50%)