The Public International Law program begins with a two-week introductory course, the first week of which may be taken jointly by students in both programs. Classes in the PIL program then provide an overview of the international law of human rights and the more specialized protections applicable to refugees, as well as the interrelationship between these bodies of law. Students are introduced to the law governing the conduct of armed conflict and to the crimes for which individuals incur individual criminal responsibility under international law, including war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.


  • Introduction to International Law and Institutions (3 credits)
  • International Protection of Human Rights and Refugees (3 credits)
  • The Law of Armed Conflict and International Crimes (3 credits)

Course Descriptions 

Typical Field Study Destinations 

  • Canadian High Commission (London)
  • The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (London)
  • UN International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (The Hague)
  • International Criminal Court (The Hague)
  • International Court of Justice (The Hague)
  • Special Tribunal for Lebanon (The Hague)
  • Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (The Hague)
  • Canadian Mission to the United Nations (Geneva)
  • International Committee of the Red Cross (Geneva)
  • Office of The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (Geneva)
  • United Nations - Palais des Nations (Geneva)

2022 Instructors (Full Bios)

Phillip Drew Profile Photo Professor Phillip Drew is the Assistant Dean JD and Graduate Legal Studies at Queen’s Faculty of Law and has been an Associate Professor at the Australian National University College of Law. He was an officer in the Canadian Military for 31 years, serving first as an Intelligence Officer, then as a legal officer with Office of the Judge Advocate General.
Norman Farrell profile photo Mr. Norman Farrell is the Prosecutor of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL). Prior to this appointment, Mr. Farrell was the Deputy Prosecutor of the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), as well he as well as being Senior Appeals Counsel for the Office of the Prosecutor at the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). 
Katrina Gustoafson profile photo

Ms. Katrina Gustafson is Senior Litigation Counsel with the Enforcement Branch of the Ontario Securities Commission. From 2005 to 2018 she was a Prosecutor with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia where she conducted numerous trials and appeals of individuals charged with war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. She previously worked as an associate at the New York office of Shearman and Sterling and clerked for Justice Iacobucci at the Supreme Court of Canada.

Ardi Imseis profile photo Professor Ardi Imseis is an Assistant Professor of Law, Faculty of Law, Queen’s University and Academic Director of International Law Programs at BISC. Between 2002 and 2014, he served in senior legal and policy capacities with the United Nations in the Middle East and is former Senior Legal Counsel to the Chief Justice of Alberta.

Ms. Alison Mitchell is a lawyer and diplomat at Global Affairs Canada, specializing in the law of armed conflict, international human rights law, international criminal law, targeted sanctions, and the law of the sea. Prior to joining Canada's foreign ministry, she worked in the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court.

Michael_Schoiswohl_300x200.jpg Mr. Michael Schoiswohl is a Senior Legal Officer with the Office of the Legal Counsel, UN Office of Legal Affairs in New York.  He was previously the Principal Legal Officer (International Law) at the Department of Legal Affairs of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and has held other positions within the United Nations in the field of human rights, legal affairs, rule of law and development, including in post-conflict situations (Afghanistan).
Instructor Searl


Mr. Mark Searl is a Counsel in the Human Rights Law Section at the Department of Justice Canada.  His prior experience in the human rights field includes serving as a Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of Human Rights, Freedoms and Inclusion at Global Affairs Canada and as a Counsel at the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Learn more about the course International Protection of Human Rights and Refugees