JJUA55144U International Law of the Sea

Volume 2024/2025

A sound marine environment provides the foundation for all life. Thus rules of international law governing the oceans are of central importance in the international community. The law is also crucial for Denmark that has important maritime industry.
Furthermore, the course of the law of the sea will be useful when studying other related fields of law, such as international environmental law, climate change law and energy/natural resource law, since this course will also deal with contemporary issues regarding, inter alia, marine natural resources, including biological diversity, and impacts of climate change on the oceans.
This course seeks to introduce students the comprehensive legal frameworks of International Law of the Sea.


The course is divided into two parts.


The first part, ‘Divided Ocean’, deals with:
(i) principles and development of the law of the sea,
(ii) baseline and related issues,
(iii) marine spaces under the territorial sovereignty (internal waters, territorial sea, international straits, and the archipelagic waters),
(iv) marine spaces under the sovereign rights (the contiguouszone, the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf),
(v) marine spaces beyond national jurisdiction (the high seas and the Area), and
(vi) maritime delimitation.


The second part of this course, ‘Our Common Ocean’, addresses:
(i) conservation of marine living resources,
(ii) marine environmental protection,
(iii) conservation of marine biological diversity,
(iv) marine scientific research,
(v) maintenance of international peace and security and
(vi) peaceful settlement of international disptues at sea.


While there is no requirement for students to complete other MA courses, a basic knowledge of public international law will be helpful to follow the course. In addition, this course is particularly relevant for students who wish to work in maritime industry in the future. This course is given in English.

Learning Outcome


On successful completion of the course, students will be able to demonstrate a specialised academic knowledge concerning legal frameworks governing each jurisdictional zone in the oceans. Also the students will be able to have a legal understanding with respect to use of the oceans in international law of the sea.



The students will be able to critically analyse legal issues by examining customary rules and relevant treaties in the law of the sea. They will also be able to identify and critically examine relevant cases of international courts and tribunals.



The students will be able to identify and advise a relevant approach to address new issues of the law of the sea in English. In this regard, it is important to strike a sound balance between competing principles and interests of States.


Through this course, the students will be able to explore a legal framework that reconciles competing interests.

Recommended literature:
Y. Tanaka, The International Law of the Sea, 4th edition (Cambridge University Press, 2023). This is a textbook for the course.


Furthermore, students are required to refer to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which is some 144 pages in electronic text (excluding Annexes).
In addition, relevant articles, cases, treaties and other documents are to be suggested in a timely manner within the scope of 750 pages in total.


It is illegal to share digital textbooks with each other without permission from the copyright holder.

The course is taught in English.
The lecture is based on the main textbook, Y. Tanaka, The International Law of the Sea.
Sample assignment questions will be discussed in the class.
Related subjects (any related courses or related subject areas): Public International Law, International Environmental Law, International Energy Law
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Preparation
  • 356,5
  • Seminar
  • 56
  • Total
  • 412,5

Self-evaluation on the basis of quizzes or a mini-test. As a plan, students will be given a short written test or quizzes in the class. They exchange their answer and evaluate each other. Subsequently I will explain correct answer and provide the students suggestions to achieve learning objectives.

Type of assessment
Home assignment, 3 days
Type of assessment details
Assigned written individual assignment, 3 days

Read about the descriptions of the individual exam forms, including formal requirements, scope and deadlines in the exam catalogue

Read about practical exam conditions at KUnet

Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Exam period

December 13-16, 2024


January 24-27, 2025