1. Handbook
  2. Subjects
  3. Principles of International Law

Principles of International Law (LAWS70173)

Graduate coursework level 7Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

You’re viewing the 2018 Handbook:
Or view archived Handbooks
You’re currently viewing the 2018 version of this subject


Year of offer2018
Subject levelGraduate coursework Level 7
Subject codeLAWS70173
Availability(Quotas apply)
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This subject is an introduction to the basic principles and rules of the public international legal order. It is designed as an introduction to international law and, therefore, provides students with an understanding of the foundational concepts of international law, its history and contemporary relevance, sources of international law and the role of some key international institutions, such as the United Nations (UN). The subject is grounded in both theory and practice so as to better demonstrate how international law works in dealing with a range of issues such as dispute settlement, self-determination, international criminal law and human rights law. Students will be encouraged to critically evaluate the position and relevance of international law in international politics and society by addressing past and current developments through case studies. The members of the teaching team are scholars in international law who have developed specific areas of specialisation in international law.

Principal topics include:

  • The nature, purpose and language of international law
  • Sources of international law
  • International legal personality
  • Jurisdiction of states and jurisdictional immunities
  • The responsibility of states and individuals for violations of international law
  • The role of the UN and regional organisations
  • Peaceful settlement of disputes and the functions of the International Court of Justice
  • Regulation of the use of force in international relations
  • The relationship between international law and municipal law.

Intended learning outcomes

A student who has successfully completed this subject should be able to:

  • explain the salient features of international law as a legal system, and compare and contrast these features with those of municipal law
  • identify, locate and interpret sources of international law
  • analyse matters of international concern and apply pertinent rules and principles of international law to them
  • construct, defend and critique arguments in support of particular propositions of international law
  • reflect critically upon and engage with theoretical debates relating to the structure, content and efficacy of the international legal system
  • undertake self-directed research on international law issues using printed and online resources.

Last updated: 23 January 2019