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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Introduction to International Criminal Law by Case Western Reserve University

3,216 ratings
824 reviews

About the Course

-- About the Course -- From the Nuremberg trial to the case against Saddam Hussein, from the prosecution of Al-Qaeda terrorists to the trial of Somali pirates – no area of law is as important to world peace and security as international criminal law. Taught by one of the world’s leading experts in the field, this course will educate students about the fundamentals of international criminal law and policy. We will explore the contours of international crimes such as genocide, war crimes, terrorism, and piracy. We will examine unique modes of international criminal liability and specialized defenses. And we will delve into the challenges of obtaining custody of the accused and maintaining control of the courtroom. -- Course Syllabus -- This course comprises eight units (or "modules"). Each will include an assigned reading, typically an article or book chapter, as well as a simulation designed to bring the readings to life. I will also offer video lectures on each of the topics, accompanied by slides. In addition, there will be online role-play exercises and debates, enabling the students to share their own insights. The order of class sessions will be: (1) History: From Nuremberg to The Hague (2) International Crimes Part 1: War Crimes, Genocide, Crimes against Humanity, and Torture (3) International Crimes Part 2: Terrorism and Piracy (4) Special modes of liability: command responsibility, co-perpetration, and incitement (5) Special defenses: insanity, obedience to orders, duress, and head of state immunity (6) Gaining custody of the accused: extradition, luring, abduction, and targeted killing (7) Pre-Trial Issues: plea bargaining, self-representation, and exclusion of torture evidence (8) Maintaining control of the courtroom -- Recommended Background -- You don’t have to be a lawyer and there are no prerequisites for this course. However, the course will be conducted at the level expected of advanced undergraduate students. Therefore, for all participants, reading and writing comfortably in English at the undergraduate college level is desirable. -- Suggested Readings -- Students should read the assigned online materials for each unit in advance of the class session. In addition, students are invited to subscribe to “War Crimes Prosecution Watch,” a free bi-weekly e-newsletter that summarizes the latest developments in the field of international criminal law. -- Course Format -- This course is made up of eight content units. Each unit is based on an online reading assignment, a video lecture of about one hour in length, and one or more role play exercises to stimulate on-line discussion. The course also offers in-video enrichment quizzes (ungraded) for each unit, a ten question multiple choice midterm diagnostics exam (ungraded), and a ten question True/False Final Exam. -- FAQ-- How will this course be graded? This course is graded on completion. In order to complete the course each student must: (1) finish each module (or “lesson”); (2) write at least one essay response of 200 words or more for at least one simulation throughout the course; and (3) get a score of 6 out of 10 or better on the Final Exam. What resources will I need for this course? For this course, all you need is an Internet connection, and the time to read and discuss the exciting materials available online. What is the coolest thing about this course? The topics we will be discussing are ripped from the headlines. The topics are often controversial and thought-provoking, and always exciting....

Top reviews

Oct 24, 2020

Extremely well-organized. Really glad to see how all previous examples and history records were referenced to every topic. Neatly explained topics. Every aspect was discussed and explained in detail.

Sep 21, 2020

learned so much from this course, absolutely loved it, and the way the professor taught the lessons showed his experience and his knowledge even for fist timers it would be a great course to opt for.

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1 - 25 of 822 Reviews for Introduction to International Criminal Law

By Emma B

Nov 29, 2015

I thoroughly enjoyed this highly informative course - it shed a lot of light on aspects which have puzzled me over the years. Fascinating and very well presented. Thank you.


Jun 5, 2020

Being a law student one should always expand and widen the knowledge of globally affected issues and international criminal court. this course helps me expand my horizons in international laws.


Sep 18, 2015

I think its good to have a complete course of the historical laws which its a very complete on all the factor to understand more the system of justice ... recommended

By Nidhila R P

Feb 28, 2016

The given introduction didn't help me to figure out how the grading system will look like. There are no assignments to submit, only online group works, which is not organised well at all. There are too many threads and the it's not at all clear what to write about. Apparently I should write about certain cases, but I couldn't find the content of the case. There is no proper introduction, work overview or anything. Very dissapointing.

By Maria d L d L

Sep 8, 2021

First of all, I would like to greet Professor Michel Scharf for the passing of his birthday on April 25th. Congratulations!

Secondly, I wanted to say that I was in love with the course of International Criminal Law, for its comprehensiveness in every way, but also, I was surprised by the content, quite complex but wonderful.

I loved the teaching of Professor Michel Sharf, humorous, which is captivating the student to proceed, and also, it tells people in general, that the Judge does not have an easy, glamorous life.

That it is very difficult to practice art called "Justice", which is often dangerous, sad, tiring, but also, can be funny.

One of the themes that touched me most were the crimes committed against and by children induced by adults.

Here in Brazil, I try to do research on the "Disappearance of Children" and what motives lead them to live on the streets.

I want to apologize for the English that I need to improve.

As I like Criminal Law too much, I intend to take part in other courses.

See you later,

Thank you for the opportunity.

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By Cristhian L

Jun 8, 2016

Es un excelente curso para ampliar los conocimientos en derecho penal internacional, y, el beneficio de encontrar subtitulo permite a las personas que no son nativos del ingles entender todo el contenido. recomendado.

By Maziatul A K

Apr 11, 2020

The course is very informative and concise, yet it does not leave details that is necessary for nouvelle learners like me, who are interested to delve into understanding International Criminal Law.

By Jessica H

May 13, 2020

I absolutely loved this course. I had no previous law experience, and this course has proven to be the exact challenge i needed. The professor obviously has a passion for law, and tells a story in such a way that you want to keep listening. Also, the variety of cases discussed in this course are very in-depth, mixed with the hands-on experience of the professor made for a very entertaining, yet very educational course. The questions and exams were also challenging. If you want to invest in a certificate for a law course I would strongly advise you to take this course.

By Raed B S

Aug 22, 2015

I am writing to thank professor Michael for his great course. I considered this class one of my favorite courses. This class honestly gave me a new understanding of the world. His lectures were always so well organized, and easy to understand.His excellent teaching skills helped me a lot.

I learned so much from professor Michael and I look forward to learning more. Many thanks for being a remarkable teacher .

best regards, Raed Bin Sadan

By Isabella R

Aug 16, 2020

I strongly encourage anyone who might be interested in becoming a lawyer to take this course! I'm a high school student and I am so glad I found out about this amazing course. So grateful!!!

By Salman A

Mar 16, 2020

This was one of the best courses I ever had. I was too much into this course. I learned a lot I don't have law background but Professor explained everything very well. Thank you :)

By Harmen R

May 17, 2020

Teacher has a clear pro israel bias. This does not fit a fact based academic course.


Apr 30, 2020

Professor Scharf was excellent as always. I can say that because I am a graduate of New England Law/Boston Class of 2002, his final year at that school. I had the privilege of having him as my instructor in Public International Law in the Fall of 2001 and in International Organizations in the Spring of 2002. I also though that the lecture topics were well chosen and presented in a logical order. The section on Terrorism & Piracy was especially interesting. I hope to pursue an online LLM in International Criminal Law at the University of New Hampshire School of Law. Thanks again Professor Scharf, and I hope you and your family are well in Ohio!

By Emilia A

May 1, 2020

This is a course that marked the start of my journey with international law 4 years ago that continues to this day. Professor Michael Scharf is a passionate lecturer that made his session as entertaining as watching a thriller with eyes wide open what will happen next. To this day I remember of of the case studies and expemples used in the course. The professor has some fascinating examples that he shares from his hands-on practice and unprecedented passion for the subject that is highly contagious (a positive spread that we could use in the 2020 covid-19 pandemic). I highly recommend this course. 1st May 2020

By Maria L R V

Aug 28, 2020

Estimados tutores, mis más sinceras felicitaciones, me gustó compartir con ustedes y recibir el curso, el cual fue muy profesional, didáctico, participativo y principalmente formativo. Para mi formación académica en el campo del derecho internacional. Especialmente al tutor Michael Sharf, quien posee una amplia experiencia en este campo, preparación académica de alto nivel, que en su conjunto me permitieron adquirir nuevas competencias. Espero poder participar en cursos de este nivel en la rama del derecho con tutores como ustedes.


María Luisa


Oct 11, 2015

I am a first year law student at the University of London and this course is pertinent to my courses in international and European Community law - especially in the area of human rights. I've been in many, many law classes but none - although they were all superbly done - each in its own right - none came close to the quality of this course. I would take another course from this great legal educator any time and I recommend this course without reservations.


1L University of London - International Programmes

By Jairo H O

Apr 24, 2020

Excellent exercise of knowledge and examples of models of action of the different courts. It has helped me prepare my defense before the Colombian Court of the Justice and Peace Law, where it is intended to incriminate myself for the "Responsibility of the commander" and that point is clear here. Thank you and I hope I can do another course on this more updated topic.

By Hina A

May 27, 2017

This courses provided a wide perspective towards international crimes and the way international crimes are prosecuted. There's so many cases and topics that help you understand the history of issues normally invisible to the public. Perhaps visible but people maybe blinded. I learned a lot from this course. It felt like I was doing a degree course. Felt myself mature.

By Jack W

Aug 7, 2015

Absolutely brilliant course. I have done a few courses on Coursera and this is the best so far. Michael Scharf is a great teacher and makes difficult topics easy to understand and the questions during the videos help you focus and show you which bits you should re-watch.

Would definitely recommend this.


Sep 22, 2020

learned so much from this course, absolutely loved it, and the way the professor taught the lessons showed his experience and his knowledge even for fist timers it would be a great course to opt for.

By Muyanja S Z

Sep 22, 2015

This course gives a good introduction to international criminal law, showing in details the evolution of key principles and institutions. The readings , though details are a great resource for they keen to take deeper dives. The main concern , however is the sudden death approach that is used to evaluate the performance on the final examination. Preferably answers should not be binary, but provide the student with wide choice to gauge the degree to which performance on the exam truly measures knowledge acquired during the course (leaving little room for guess work, as it were).

By Vartika B

Nov 22, 2020

This course helped me to learn various aspects of International law from practical and real-life cases. Prof. Michael Scharf was an amazing mentor throughout the course his teaching style, content, experiences, notes helped me to have a more than better understanding. Thank you for giving us this course as a golden opportunity to learn from Prof. Michael Scharf and learn about International Criminal Law. this Course will teach about the origin of international law, cases, trails, how to prepare your defences, maintenance of courtroom decorum as a judge, foreign policies, how countries deal with different treaties. overall this was an amazing journey participate in online simulations have the notes provided and you will be clear about all aspects. GO FOR IT!


Sep 13, 2020

This is the best course that I have done through Coursera. The videos and notes were very well structured, easy to read and to understand. Professor Scharf is truly a great teacher, he has an incredible knowledge of the subject and a really compelling presentation style. You wouldn't think would you that this subject could be taught in a way that is engages from start to finish. I expected it to be a bit 'dry' but Thanks to Professor Scharf it is never that, its simply brilliant and I highly recommend it.

By Orit Y

Oct 4, 2015

The lectures and readings dovetail perfectly and take you through a very organized introduction to international criminal law. Even someone without a law background but a strong interest in international matters can understand and learn mountains from this course! Only half way through the course, and I already understand things I hear on the news about international matters, the UN, terrorism, etc. with new eyes and ears. I recommend this very high-quality course wholeheartedly.

By Marina O R

Aug 3, 2020