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WTO Law and Dispute Settlement (LAWS70322)

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

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Year of offer2018
Subject levelGraduate coursework Level 7
Subject codeLAWS70322
Availability(Quotas apply)
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is at the centre of ongoing debates concerning both fragmentation of public international law and persistent inequities between developed and developing countries. It also provides one of the most active systems in the world for resolving international disputes, with jurisdiction over some of the largest and most significant matters arising today. This subject offers a sophisticated understanding of the WTO and its dispute settlement system, including a detailed analysis of the fundamental principles and jurisprudence of WTO law. The instructors are both leading scholars in WTO law and former Legal Officers with the Appellate Body Secretariat of the WTO.

Principal topics include:

  • History and objectives of the WTO
  • WTO dispute settlement
  • Core disciplines under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 (GATT 1994):
    • Tariff bindings
    • Non-discrimination (most-favoured nation (MFN) and national treatment)
    • Prohibition on quantitative restrictions
  • Exceptions to WTO commitments, eg environment, health, public morals, culture, free trade agreements, and special and differential treatment for developing countries
  • The regulation of trade in services under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)
  • Current challenges facing the WTO and the Doha Development Round of negotiations.

Intended learning outcomes

A student who has successfully completed this subject will:

  • Understand the history and economic theory underlying the WTO and its predecessor, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1947 (GATT 1947)
  • Be capable of critically examining the legal framework of the WTO, including the relationship between the various agreements, the relationship between the WTO agreements and other national and international laws, and the dispute settlement system
  • Have an advanced understanding of the tensions that may arise between WTO objectives and other objectives in national or international law, and how these tensions may be resolved
  • Be able to interpret and apply, at an advanced level, certain key WTO agreements, including advocating a particular position in a given hypothetical, potential or past case
  • Be familiar with the details of some of the major WTO dispute settlement decisions regarding these WTO agreements, and be able to assess these decisions critically
  • Be familiar with current issues and negotiations in the WTO
  • Have the cognitive and technical skills to generate creative and critical ideas relating to international trade regulation, in the WTO and in other fora.

Eligibility and requirements


Melbourne Law Masters Students: None

JD Students: None



Non-allowed subjects

Students who have completed any of the below subjects are not permitted to take LAWS70322 WTO Law and Dispute Settlement:

730826 Principles of WTO Law
730692 WTO Dispute Settlement
732733 WTO Law and Dispute Settlement

Recommended background knowledge

Applicants without legal qualifications should note that subjects are offered in the discipline of law at an advanced graduate level. While every effort will be made to meet the needs of students trained in other fields, concessions will not be made in the general level of instruction or assessment. Most subjects assume the knowledge usually acquired in a degree in law (LLB, JD or equivalent). Applicants should note that admission to some subjects in the Melbourne Law Masters will be dependent upon the individual applicant’s educational background and professional experience.

Core participation requirements

The University of Melbourne is committed to providing students with reasonable adjustments to assessment and participation under the Disability Standards for Education (2005), and the Assessment and Results Policy (MPF1326). Students are expected to meet the core participation requirements for their course. These can be viewed under Entry and Participation Requirements for the course outlines in the Handbook.

Further details on how to seek academic adjustments can be found on the Student Equity and Disability Support website: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/student-equity/home


Additional details

  • Class participation (15%)
  • Take-home examination (5,000 - 6,000 words) (85%) (22 - 25 June)
  • Research paper (7,000 - 8,500 words) (85%) (1 August) on a topic approved by the subject coordinator

A minimum of 75% attendance is a hurdle requirement.

Quotas apply to this subject

Dates & times

  • May
    Mode of deliveryOn Campus — Parkville
    Contact hours24-34 hours
    Total time commitment150 hours
    Pre teaching start date 4 April 2018
    Pre teaching requirementsThe pre-teaching period commences four weeks before the subject commencement date. From this time, students are expected to access and review the Reading Guide that will be available from the LMS subject page and the subject materials provided by the subject coordinator, which will be available from Melbourne Law School. Refer to the Reading Guide for confirmation of which resources need to be read and what other preparation is required before the teaching period commences.
    Teaching period 2 May 2018 to 8 May 2018
    Last self-enrol date30 March 2018
    Census date 2 May 2018
    Last date to withdraw without fail22 June 2018
    Assessment period ends 1 August 2018

    May contact information


    Ms Valerie Hughes (Coordinator)
    Mr Simon Lester

    Email: law-masters@unimelb.edu.au
    Phone: +61 3 8344 6190
    Website: law.unimelb.edu.au

Additional delivery details

This subject has a quota of 30 students.

Enrolment is on a first come, first served basis. Waitlists are maintained for subjects that are fully subscribed.

Students should note priority of places in subjects will be given as follows:

  • To currently enrolled Graduate Diploma and Masters students with a satisfactory record in their degree
  • To other students enrolling on a single subject basis, eg Community Access Program (CAP) students, cross-institutional study and cross-faculty study.

Please refer to the Melbourne Law Masters website for further information about the management of subject quotas and waitlists.

Further information

Last updated: 29 March 2019