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  3. Public International Law

Public International Law (LAWS50041)

Graduate coursework level 5Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework Level 5
Subject codeLAWS50041
Availability(Quotas apply)
Semester 1
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This subject is designed to enable students to critically analyse the principles of public international law and to understand the way in which these principles may be used in the practice of law. The subject will build on the understanding of international law acquired in Principles of Public Law and enable students to engage deeply with international law in the context of contemporary international events. Students are encouraged to evaluate multiple perspectives – of states, of individuals and of other actors – in order to acquire an expert understanding of the impact of public international law on public and private activities. The topics addressed in the course will include:

  • Developing International Law;
  • International Legal Personality – the role of states, international organisations and individuals in international law;
  • The Application of Treaties;
  • Jurisdiction and Immunity from Jurisdiction;
  • The Responsibility of States and Other Actors for Breaches of International Law;
  • The Use of Force and the Powers of the Security Council of the United Nations; and
  • Judicial and Non-Judicial Methods of International Dispute Resolution.

The aim is to acquire an historically-situated understanding of international law and the choices made and not made by international lawyers in the context of current international disputes.

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this subject, students should:

  • Have developed an advanced understanding of the development and structure of the international legal system and the theoretical bases for public international law;
  • Have developed an advanced and integrated understanding of the principles of public international law;
  • Be able to reflect critically on the role of states, international organisations and individuals in international law;
  • Have the capacity to apply international law principles to complex international events, including events involving territorial disputes, jurisdictional disputes and the use of force by states and other international actors; and
  • Be able to think creatively about the type of arguments that may be raised in international legal disputes in fora such as the International Court of Justice.

Generic skills

On completion of the subject, students should have developed the following skills to draw on their developed understanding of Public International Law to:

  • Interpret the historical context of the law in order to analyse complex contemporary politico-legal problems;
  • Investigate and analyse diverse aspects of the international legal regime through the location and close reading of a range of relevant primary and secondary source materials;
  • Develop well-reasoned and sophisticated arguments as to the appropriate legal principles to apply in various circumstances in which aspects of public international law are relevant; and
  • Present these specialist arguments, analyses and principles in the form of written arguments that are appropriately investigated, structured, developed, supported and referenced.

Last updated: 11 September 2019