Elective Field of Specialization - Law of International Relations


Prof. Dr. Ursula Kriebaum


In the age of globalization an increasing number of issues cannot be regulated adequately within the European Union - not even after its enlargement in 2004 and 2007 -, let alone by individual states. Rather there is need for more comprehensive, sometimes global legal solutions. This is true not only regarding economic issues - from world trade and financial questions to transport and development co-operation, from communication and information to internal and external security and criminal law. International interdependence which is reflected in public international law is constantly increasing. Therefore even domestic lawyers are more and more confronted with international legal issues. Moreover, since a genuine understanding of international law also requires the knowledge of relevant political and economic aspects, an interdisciplinary approach will be emphasized.
Since English has become the global "lingua franca" in international law, many courses are offered in this language, but also in other languages, in addition to German. Furthermore, internships are also recognized for the certificate in order to make the curriculum more practice-oriented.
The courses in the "!basket" "Law of International Relations" should contribute to a more international perspective in Austria, where this perspective still in particular leaves a great deal to be desired. The connections to European Law and Austrian domestic law are also to be taken into account. The courses in this elective field of specialization require a basic knowledge of international law which is provided by the regular curriculum.
On the one hand, the "elective basket" is designed to deepen knowledge of areas of international law already covered by the regular curriculum and, on the other hand, to offer information on additional topics. Consequently, the "basket" will focus on: international economic law, the international protection of human rights, international criminal law, international organizations and multilateral diplomacy, the legal and political aspects of international security, and the international status of Austria since 1918.
By completing courses in this elective field students obtain special qualifications for numerous, legal and also non-legal professions: the diplomatic service, a career in international organizations, in the international departments of ministries, in NGOs, in journalism, as well as in law firms and multinational companies.


Overview of the courses you can see in the course directory of the Law Faculty

Types of Lectures

In order to prepare for their examinations and to deepen their knowledge, students can choose among several types of courses in the broad sense of the word that are listed in a programme („Vorlesungsverzeichnis“) published at the beginning of each semester. The various types of courses differ in their contents, their aim, their didactic methods and their requirements.

This area of specialization should provide students with a deeper knowledge of international legal and political issues and thereby facilitate an internationally oriented career. In order to obtain a diploma students have to take courses totalling 18 ECTS, out of which 12 must be core and the rest elective courses.

Short description of the different types of courses

  • Lecture Course (VO)
    The Lecture Courses are primarily intended to familiarize students with the basic subject matter and the opinions of scholars. Lectures are held by professors and are usually attended by a large number of students.
  • Practical Exercises (PF)
    The aim of practical exercises is to learn how solve legal cases by applying the knowledge gained in the lectures. The successful completion of a practical exercise requires participation in discussions in class and the successful completion of at least one written test or assigned homework.
  • "Konversatorium" (KO)
    In a "Konversatorium" students deepen their knowledge of special topics. It consists of presentations and discussions. A certificate can be obtained either by active participation in discussions in class, by completing an assigned homework or by passing an exam.
  • Repetition Course (AR)
    In a repetition course assistant lecturers prepare students for exams by offering a condensed survey of the main areas of a given field of law. As a rule, these courses take place shortly before the examinations. No certificates can be obtained for attending these courses.
  • Course (KU)
    Courses combine characteristics of a lecture with those of a conversatorium. Students are expected to prepare for the courses on the basis of reading assignments in order to participate actively in discussions and to gain deeper knowledge of the respective topics.
  • Working Group (AG)
    Working groups are intended to introduce students to scientific teamwork in small groups.
  • Excursion (EX)
    Excursions are organized to deepen the knowledge gained in classes.
  • Moot Court (MC)
    Teams of students prepare for and take part in an international moot court competition. Memorials and pleadings are prepared in a foreign language (either in English or French).
  • Internships (PR)
    Internships are offered to bridge the gap between academic studies and professional reality. Close co-operation between faculty members and practitioners provides deeper insight into problems arising in legal practice.

    Recognition of Internships
    One (1) internship per participant is recognised as equivalent to two semester hours of the courses of the basket "Law of International Relations".
    The following options are accepted:
    • 4 weeks, 40 hours a week
    • 6 weeks, 30 hours a week
    • 8 weeks, 20 hours a week
    The internship has to be completed at an International Organization, a diplomatic or consular mission or a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO). Interested students are requested to consult the co-ordinator of the elective field, Prof. Kriebaum, prior to the commencement of the internship to clarify recognition.
    The intern has to produce a certificate from the institution chosen for the internship.
    The certificate ought to include the duration of the internship and tasks performed by the intern, as well as an assessment of her/his performance.
    The certificate must confirm that the intern has successfully completed the internship. The intern is also required to fill in an internship credit form, („Formular auf Anrechnung eines Praktikums“) available at the Dean´s Office (Dekanat) and to submit it to the coordinator together with the certificate.
  • Seminar (SE)
    In seminars, special topics are dealt with; participants have to write and to present research papers. Some (special) seminars are held for students preparing their diploma or doctoral thesis (SE-Dipl., SE-Diss.).Seminar (SE)


ECTS Credits

At the Vienna Law Faculty courses are evaluated according to the credits system.
The Study Commission decides on the elective fields of specialization and their contents.
It should be noted that ERASMUS and other exchange students have to meet the same requirements for receiving a certificate as Austrian students!
There are no specific examinations for non-Austrian students. Attendance is mandatory for all courses of an elective field of specialization.


Note for students of the University of Vienna

According to the guidelines of the University of Vienna, mail correspondence with students of the University of Vienna must be sent exclusively via their university mail address (Unet account). We are not allowed to process requests from private mail addresses. We therefore ask you to use your Unet account for your enquiry.