Skip to Main Content

International law: origins & history: Books

Finding ebooks and books in the Bodleian Law Library

Use the tabs above to understand how the Law Bod's collection is arranged. There is an Enquiry Desk on Level 2, just as you enter the main Reading Room: please do come and have a word if you are having any difficulty in using the library..

Help with finding books

The Law Library's collection is fully catalogued on SOLO, Oxford University's online resource discovery tool.

Subject searches to use in SOLO include:

International law and relations -- History 

International law - history

International relations -- History
International relations -- Case studies
Political science - History

Imperialism - History
[geographic unit] -- Colonies -- History eg Great Britain - Colonies - History

[geographic unit] - Foreign relations [geographic unit] eg China -- Foreign relations -- Europe
[geographic unit] - Colonial influence eg Japan -- Colonial influence

Ambassadors -- History
Diplomatic and consular service -- History
Diplomacy -- History -- To 1500

War (International law) -- Early works to 1800
Politics and war -- History
War -- Religious aspects -- History

Piracy (International law) -- History

Military history, Ancient
Military history, Medieval  Peace treaties -- History -- To 1500 

Peace -- History
Peace treaties   History

Diplomatic negotiations in international disputes -- History
Pacific settlement of international disputes -- History

Foreign trade regulation - history
[geographic unit] - Commerce -  History eg Spain -- Commerce -- History
Consumer goods -- [geographic unit] -- History eg Consumer goods -- America -- History
Business networks -- History 
[geographic unit] - Foreign economic relations - [geographic unit] eg Europe -- Foreign economic relations -- America

Law of the sea -- History  which could be limited further eg 16th century
Fishery management, International -- Law and legislation -- History

Slavery -- Law and legislation

For those wishing to learn more about getting the most out of SOLO searches, we recommend the following:

Finding aids

  • MacAlister-Smith, P. and J. Schwietzke, "Literature and Documentary Sources relating to the History of Public International Law: an Annotated Bibliography"  1 (1999) Journal of the History of International Law 136-212
  • MacAlister-Smith, P., "Bio-Bibliographical Key to Membership of the Institut de Droit International, 1873-2001" 5 (2003) Journal of the History of International Law 77-159
  • MacAlister-Smith, P. and J. Schwietzke, "Bibliography of the Textbooks and Comprehensive Treatises on Positive International Law of the 19th Century" 3 (2001) Journal of the History of International Law 75-142

Holders of an Oxford SSO can access this journal online

Holders of an Oxford SSO have access to the Max Planck Encyclopedias. These are the Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law (MPEPIL) and the Max Planck Encyclopedia of International Procedural Law (MPEIPL) The two can be searched and browsed together, or separately by using appropriate filters. They are regularly updated - in the sense of both existing entries being revised and new entries being added.

Although SOLO searches will pick up most (if not all) the titles held in these ebook platforms individually, you might like to use their own search functions to search across their content.

Looking for a Reading List title?

When you search SOLO for books on your Reading List you may find that the location is shown as Law Library Reserve Collection. These titles  are shelved in a discrete run on Level 2, the level at which you enter the library. Please ask a librarian for  further directions when you are in the Law Library, the Enquiry Desk is just inside the library gate.
Public internation law books in the Reserve collection have shelf marks beginning KC 

Note: Books in the Reserve Collection are available to all categories of readers, not just those on a particular course.


The majority of the books on this topic are on open shelf on Level 3


The current collection of public international law is shelved on Level 3, one floor above the entrance level. There are both stairs and a public lift to access. There are also study spaces (and a PCAS machine), but readers are free to take the books down to another floor within the library if they would prefer. Readers are not asked to return items to the shelves when finished with, but we would be grateful if they could be put on one of the book trolleys dotted around the library.

Internat 510 is the shelf mark for books about the general history of public international law - such as the example below. But if you are interested in a particular topic within international law eg  recognition, peace treaties etc there will probably be useful reading in the shelf mark for that topic too.

Topic/subject arrangement of public international law books 
Internat 500 General and theory
Internat 510 History
Internat 520 Title to territory
Internat 530 The state (as a legal entity)
Internat 535 Dependent states and special regimes
Internat 540 State succession
Internat 545 Recognition
Internat 550 Servitudes
Internat 555 State responsibility
Internat 560 Jurisdiction of states
Internat 565 Nationality
Internat 570 Human rights
Internat 575 European Court of Human Rights:  literature
Internat 580 International crimes
Internat 590 Economic law
Internat 600 Atomic energy
Internat 610 Social legislation and organisation
Internat 620 Transport and communications (except sea, air and space)
Internat 630 Law of the sea and waterways
Internat 640 Air law
Internat 650 Space law
Internat 660 International relations
Internat 670 Treaties (theory etc.)
International organisations
Internat 680 History and general
Internat 681 General and regional political organisations
Internat 685 League of Nations:  general
Internat 687 United Nations:  general
International disputes and arbitration
Internat 700 Peace and disarmament
Internat 710 General and theory
Internat 720 International courts and tribunals:  general
Internat 725 Permanent Court of International Justice and the International Court of Justice:  literature
Internat 730 Permanent Court of Arbitration:  literature
Internat 740 Individual arbitration tribunals: literature
Internat 750 War and armed conflict
Internat 760 Termination of war (including specific peace treaties)

After the end of Internat, there is the private international law collection. These books have shelf marks beginning Private Int. They are not further divided by subject, but arranged alphabetically by last name of author or editor.

Please do not be deterred if your SOLO searches reveal materials not currently held in one of the Oxford-based libaries or Reading Rooms. Such as the example below

Requesting them to be delivered to a central Oxford reading room is a very simple online procedure

More specific guidance

Recommend a book

If the Bodleian Libraries don't have the print or ebook you are looking for, you can make a recommendation by completing the form below (Oxford Single-Sign On required).

Inter-library requests

If the Bodleian Libraries don't have the book you are looking for, we may be able to source it through Oxford's inter-library request service.