The Oxford Law Faculty has been a major centre for the study of international law for over 400 years. Although the Chichele Professorship of Public International Law was only established in 1859, the teaching of public international law in Oxford dates back at least to 1587 when Alberico Gentili, the leading international law scholar and practitioner of his day, was appointed Regius Professor of Civil Law in Oxford. Previous holders of the Chichele Professorship of Public International Law include: Professor Vaughan Lowe QC, Professor Sir Ian Brownlie QC, Professor D.P. O’Connell, Professor Sir Humphrey Waldock QC and Professor James Brierly. More details of the history of international law in Oxford can be found in an extract from the Inaugural Lecture of Professor Vaughan Lowe, former Chichele Professor of Public International Law. 

Professor Catherine Redgwell is the current Chichele Professor of Public International Law. Today, Oxford has a distinguished group of international law scholars who research and teach across a diverse range of public international law areas. Although there continues to be emphasis on the study of general international law (the fundamental principles which underpin the international legal system), the teaching and research of international law in Oxford allows for specialisation in particular areas of international law.

International Law in Oxford benefits from deep connections with scholarship and teaching in other allied fields in the Faculty of Law, including human rights law, environmental law, and legal philosophy. The Institute for European and Comparative Law provides an institutional support for connections with comparative law and European law. The study of international law also has a central role in research programmes and graduate courses in other Centres and Institutes across the University: in particular, the Refugee Studies Centre, the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict, the Environmental Change Institute, and the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment. In addition, the University is a major centre for the study of international relations, and international lawyers within the Faculty of Law work with colleagues in the Department of Politics and International Relations and with the University’s new Blavatnik School of Government, to enhance the connections with scholarship in public policy and international relations.

Former Chichele Professors of Public International Law:

Mountague Bernard 1859- 1870
Thomas E. Holland 1874-1910
Sir Henry Erle Richards 1911-1922
James Leslie Brierly 1922-1947
Sir Humphrey Waldock 1947
D.P. O'Connell 1972-1979
Ian Brownlie QC 1980-1999
Vaughan Lowe QC 1999 – 2012