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Critical International Migration Law

University of Kent via FutureLearn Program


This comprehensive course will appeal to anyone interested in developing a critical understanding of so-called migration crises – what causes them, and how the law is implicated in their construction.

It will appeal to learners interested in understanding the who, what and why of international migration, and the role of both international and domestic law in shaping the terrain. You’ll gain an insight into the role of states in exercising their sovereign right to control their borders, and the impact their policies and laws have in closing off legal routes to migration for those desperate to flee to safety.

Examine the complex laws and policies that inform migration law

You will examine how law and policies have served both to protect states’ borders, and have also created vulnerability for migrants fleeing from civil war, generalised violence, extreme poverty and other widespread human rights violations.

You will engage in a critical evaluation of the following: the means by which states exercise border controls; the depiction of migrants and so-called migrant crises by states and the media; the framework of refugee law; the development of international concern for internally displaced persons; states responses to claims about climate change induced migration; smuggling and trafficking and the reasons migrants employ their services; the use of immigration detention.

In the final week, you will engage in a critical evaluation of the human rights of migrants – a theme that underpins the whole course – and ask whether international human rights law is truly universal.

Critically evaluate the political and philosophical discourses attached to international migration

You’ll start the course with a critical examination of law and its framing of the migrant experience. You’ll then demonstrate a critical understanding of the main international treaties which relate to migration, and will critically evaluate the political discourses attached to the concept of international migration.

You’ll then gain a critical awareness of the theoretical and interdisciplinary critiques of international migration law, and will use legal materials to help formulate a complex legal argument concerning state practice.

Learn from an international migration law expert from Kent Law School

Throughout the duration of this microcredential, you’ll be learning from Sian Lewis-Anthony; a barrister and member of Gray’s Inn. She completed her pupillage in the Inner Temple before moving to work as a crown prosecutor in the Crown Prosecution Service of Inner London.

She worked for numerous international human rights NGOs as well as intergovernmental and governmental organisations as a human rights law specialist. She specialised in devising and delivering human rights training programmes for judges and prosecutors in the Balkans, Middle East, North Africa and West Africa. In her teaching, her main focus is human rights-based courses where she is able to draw on her wide range of practical experience. She also puts her experience into practice in the workplace, and has for many years, worked as an officer for the staff union, the UCU.

Why is Kent Law School the best organisation to offer me this particular international migration course?

Kent Law School is one of the UK’s leading law schools, offering a distinctive critical approach to their syllabuses, ultimately placing law within the wider context of society.

With a recognised excellence in teaching, world-class research, and an award-winning law clinic, they offer an intellectually stimulating environment in which to study law, including human rights law and international migration law.

Throughout the duration of this microcredential, you’ll look beneath the surface of the law and study its complexity and contradictions. This enhances what is already a fascinating subject - international migration law, and means you’ll graduate with a highly regarded qualification and a wealth of new skills.

What are the topics that will be covered on this international migration and migration law course?

Throughout the duration of this microcredential, you’ll be learning the following topics:

A critical examination of law and its framing of the migrant experience; the nature of international migration law; discourses on migration and migrants; the right of states to protect their borders; the ways this has been interpreted by states and consequences for migrants fleeing human rights abuses; the characterisation of migration movements as crises; trafficking and smuggling; internal displacement; immigration detention; the human rights of migrants.


Courses under this program:
Course 1: Law and the Framing of Migration and Migrants
-In this first course, we explore how discourses and law frame migrants and migration.

Course 2: Freedom of Movement, Refugees, Traffickers and Smugglers
-Examine the role, reach and scope of border controls in generating of modern forms and means of flight.

Course 3: Law's Absence and Law's Failings
-In this final course, we see that securitisation and militarisation of border controls can have dire consequences

Taught by

Becky Plunkett

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