Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Refugee Law and Statelessness: Practical Aspects

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course


DEPARTMENT International Relations

DESCRIPTION The study-unit will comprise a series of lectures exploring the legal, policy and practical aspects of two populations: refugees and stateless persons. By linking the two populations, the study-unit will examine the legal regimes governing situations where state fail - intentionally or otherwise - to protect persons. Together with analysing the legal aspects, emerging from international, European and national law, the study-unit will contextualise these populations within their social environments so as to present the social and personal dynamics happening at the micro-cosmic level. In particular, the study-unit will adopt a rights-based understanding of the positioning of the refugee and the stateless person within communities.

Study-Unit Aims:

- To provide students with knowledge relating to the legal and institutional framework governing the protection of refugees and stateless persons;
- To provide students the opportunity to engage in discussions on policy considerations that underpin the creation and resolution of refugee and stateless situations;
- To provide students with an insight into the human perspectives of situations where persons lack state protection, with a view to exploring the broader implications on societies and communities;
- To provide students with the skills necessary to identify triggers, factors, contexts and solutions relating to refugees and stateless persons.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- understand the definitions of refugee and statelessness;
- understand the nature of state obligations in relation to these populations;
- identify the sources of law and institutional protection/intervention regarding refugees and stateless persons;
- understand the trigger elements (in law, policy and practice) that create refugee situations and stateless persons;
- identify sources of solutions;
- understand the notion of state protection, and the implications of its absence.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- engage in discussions on the positioning of refugees and stateless persons within contemporary communities and societies;
- analyse specific contexts and appreciate their potential for creating refugee or statelessness scenarios;
- explore legal, policy and other avenues for increased protection of refugees and stateless persons.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Refugees Primary:
- James C. Hathaway, The rights of refugees under international law, Cambridge University Press, 2005.
- Forced Migration Current Awareness,, online blog.
- ECRE, Policy Note: Chartering a way to protection - The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights - An indispensable instrument in the file of Asylum, 2017. Available at

Refugees Secondary:
- ECRE, The Way Forward: Europe's role in the global refugee protection system, 2005.
Available at
- IRIN, Time to reform the way we protect refugees?, 2016. Available at
- Koichi Koizumi and Gerhard Hoffstaedter, Urban Refugees: Challenges in protection, services and policy, Routledge, 2015.

Statelessness Primary:
- European Network on Statelessness, ENS Good Practice Guide on Statelessness Determination and the Protection Status of Stateless Persons, 2013. Available at
- Laura Van Waas and Melanie Khanna (eds), Solving Statelessness, Wolf Legal Publishers, 2016.

Statelessness Secondary:
- European Network on Statelessness, Still Stateless, Still Suffering - Why Europe Must Act Not to Protect Stateless Persons, 2014. Available at


Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment Yes 100%

Neil Falzon

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2019/0, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.