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Regulating Global Markets (LAWS90063)

Graduate courseworkPoints: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2018
Subject levelGraduate coursework
Subject codeLAWS90063
Availability(Quotas apply)
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

As markets are increasingly globalised, there is an accompanying diffusion of sites of regulation and governance. Diverse actors and organisations – public and private, national and international, spanning jurisdictional boundaries – compete for the authority to define and operationalise the rules for the conduct of global commerce. These developments raise a number of fundamental questions for lawyers: how is regulatory authority distributed in global markets, and how should it be? How are completing claims to such authority mediated and resolved in practice? And what role does law play in shaping the dynamics of global markets?

This subject helps students think about these questions from a number of different perspectives. Students are introduced to the range of techniques and institutions that currently exist to address regulatory controversies and to set the conditions for regulatory coordination. In addition, students are asked to engage with some of the deeper questions of normative political and social theory raised by the operation of these techniques and institutions, through readings drawn from a variety of disciplines, including sociology, science and technology studies, politics and law. This technical and theoretical material is set side by side with, and explored through, a series of four grounded case studies, typically drawn from contemporary global markets in financial services, tobacco control, biotechnology, carbon trading, fisheries and energy. The subject develops understanding of ‘fragmentation’, which in this context refers to the proliferation of sites of global governance, as well as the theme of ‘expertise’, which signals an interest in contemporary re-articulations of the power-knowledge nexus. Regulating Global Markets will be of interest to lawyers whose practices support international businesses, students who are engaged with contemporary political questions around economic globalisation and the backlash to it, and anyone with an interest in questions of political and social theory as they relate to international law.

There will be four case studies addressed in the subject, the content of which may change from year to year. Illustrative topics include the global dimensions of:

  • The regulation of biotech foods
  • Currency manipulation
  • Tobacco control
  • Financial stability
  • The industrial policy of climate change
  • Global fisheries management
  • Public support systems for energy (both renewable and fossil-fuel based)
  • Foreign investment in agriculture and infrastructure services.

The theoretical writing will be organised around four themes, which may include some of:

  • Global constitutionalism
  • Empire
  • Sociotechnical imaginaries
  • Reflexivity
  • Regime interaction
  • Expertise studies
  • International governmentality studies
  • Global administrative law
  • New governance
  • Global experimentalist governance.

The law and institutions covered in the subject will depend on the case studies chosen. However, students can expect a significant part of the subject to focus on such institutions as the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Food and Agricultural Organization, the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes, the World Health Organization, the Codex Alimentarius Commission, and their related bodies of law.

Intended learning outcomes

A student who has successfully completed the subject will:

  • Have an advanced and integrated understanding of the principal legal methods and techniques that deal with the fragmentation of international law
  • Be able to critically examine, analyse, interpret and assess contemporary thinking about the structures of global governance from disciplines such as sociology, science and technology studies, politics and law
  • Be an engaged participant in debate regarding expertise and the profession of international law and economics
  • Have a sophisticated understanding of sociological accounts of the origins of fragmentation, and provide an account of challenges to which fragmentation gives rise such as forum shopping
  • Have an advanced understanding of four specific areas of global market regulation, including a detailed understanding of the relevant governance institutions, the governing legal frameworks, the most important techniques of governance, and the core gaps in our knowledge of how they operate
  • Have the cognitive and technical skills to independently examine, research and analyse specific theorists and theories of contemporary global governance
  • Have the communication skills to clearly articulate and convey complex information regarding global governance to relevant specialist and non-specialist audiences
  • Be able to demonstrate autonomy, expert judgment and responsibility as a practitioner and learner in the field of global governance, and to ground a critical response to theoretical accounts of global governance, at both the positive and normative levels.

Last updated: 29 March 2019