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Law of International Organisations (LAWS90047)

Graduate courseworkPoints: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework
Subject codeLAWS90047
Availability(Quotas apply)
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

The actions and activities of international organisations have been much scrutinised in recent years. This subject will focus on the law common to international (inter-governmental) organisations in order to understand the complex legal framework which governs their work. It will critically analyse the features of such organisations in light of recent practice and case law, with a particular emphasis on issues that have arisen in the major global inter-governmental institutions (for example, the United Nations) and regional organisations (for example, the European Union and ASEAN). The subject will highlight recent controversies in international organisations to illustrate the application of the law to complex factual situations.

This subject will be of interest to students with a desire to develop their understanding of the role of international organisations and the legal regimes which govern their work. Alison Duxbury is a Professor at the Melbourne Law School and an Associate Director of the Asia Pacific Centre for Military Law. Alison's major research interests are in the fields of international institutional law and human rights law.

Principal topics include:

  • Historical development of international organisations and theories concerning the place of international organisations in the international community
  • Legal status of international organisations in international and domestic law (including legal personality, privileges and immunities, and law-making function)
  • The United Nations and related agencies (structure, membership and participation, powers, efficacy, proposals for reform)
  • Regional organisations, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region (for example, ASEAN), and their prospects for future development
  • The relationship between international organisations and other actors in the international community, including member states, non-member states and non-governmental organisations
  • The accountability and responsibility of international organisations for their actions.

Intended learning outcomes

A student who has successfully completed this subject will:

  • Have the ability to critically analyse the historical development of, and the theories for, the establishment of international organisations
  • Have an advanced understanding of the principles governing the international and domestic legal status of international organisations
  • Appreciate the internal constitutional structures of the most significant inter-governmental organisations, and have the ability to evaluate the efficacy of these organisations
  • Have an extended understanding of the role of regional organisations, particularly the existing institutional structures in the Asia-Pacific region, and the relationship between regional and international organisations
  • Have knowledge of recent developments in the law of international organisations, for example, the responsibility of organisations for breaches of international law
  • Have the ability to apply the law to complex legal issues arising in international organisations.

Eligibility and requirements


Melbourne Law Masters Students: None

JD Students: Successful completion of all the below subjects:

Code Name Teaching period Credit Points
LAWS50024 Principles of Public Law
Semester 1
LAWS50041 Public International Law
Semester 1



Non-allowed subjects


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 Melbourne Law Masters welcomes applications from students with disabilities. The inherent academic requirements for study in the Melbourne Law Masters are:

  • The ability to attend a minimum of 75% of classes and actively engage in the analysis and critique of complex materials and debate;
  • The ability to read, analyse and comprehend complex written legal materials and complex interdisciplinary materials;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate in writing a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and to critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate orally a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to work independently and as a part of a group;
  • The ability to present orally and in writing legal analysis to a professional standard.

Students who feel their disability will inhibit them from meeting these inherent academic requirements are encouraged to contact Student Equity and Disability Support.


Additional details

  • Take-home examination (5,000 - 6,000 words) (100%) (12 - 15 April)
  • 10,000 word research paper (100%) (22 May) on a topic approved by the subject coordinator

A minimum of 75% attendance is a hurdle requirement.

Quotas apply to this subject

Dates & times

  • February
    Principal coordinatorAlison Duxbury
    Mode of deliveryOn Campus — Parkville
    Contact hours24-34 hours.
    Total time commitment150 hours
    Pre teaching start date31 January 2019
    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 period28 February 2019 to 6 March 2019
    Last self-enrol date 5 February 2019
    Census date28 February 2019
    Last date to withdraw without fail12 April 2019
    Assessment period ends22 May 2019

    February contact information


    Professor Alison Duxbury, Coordinator

    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: 20 July 2019