Institutions in International Law

Subject 730-468 (2009)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2009. Search for this in the current handbook

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 4 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2009:

Semester 1, - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

Seminars. Five in Melbourne in Semester 1 and the rest taught intensively in Geneva, Switzerland, during the Winter Recess (Saturday 4 July 2009 to Saturday 18 July 2009).

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: Semester 1 and Winter Recess (15 hours per week)
Total Time Commitment: 144 hours.
Prerequisites: International Law (may be taken concurrently with this subject).
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support:


Assoc Prof Andrew Mitchell
Subject Overview: The subject examines the place of international institutions within the international legal order, considering their structure, normative underpinnings, and activities. It focuses on inter-governmental organisations but also considers non-governmental organisations and the role of civil society and national governments in both types of institution. It considers how international institutions reflect conflicting notions of fragmentation and unity in international law. Principal topics to be covered include:
  • The role of international institutions in the development of international law and global governance.
  • Introduction to international institutions in Geneva and elsewhere including their history, trends in their mission, influence and importance, and reform proposals.
  • The fragmentation of international law, including the proliferation of institutions and dispute settlement tribunals and the proliferation of substantive laws.
  • Inter-organisational cooperation, coordination and conflict in areas such as trade, human rights the laws of war, and development.
  • Participation and representation in international institutions by governments, business, civil society, and secretariat staff.

Note: The research essay in this subject is regarded as a substantial piece of legal writing.


A candidate who has successfully completed this subject should:

  • Understand the relationship between international institutions and international law.
  • Be able to explain and critique the notion of fragmentation in international law and its relevance to international institutions.
  • Have a detailed knowledge of a range of international institutions and the legal issues they face.
  • Understand the role of different actors within international institutions and how various institutions relate to each other.
  • Be familiar with key factors influencing international institutions from the perspective of law, policy, politics, diplomacy, and management.

1. 100% class attendance (hurdle requirement);

2. Class presentation (20%);

3. Class participation (10%); and

4. 5,000 word research paper (70%) (due Monday 5 October 2009).

Prescribed Texts:

Printed Materials will be issued by Melbourne Law School.

Recommended Texts:

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

On completion of the subject students should have developed the following generic skills:

  • Oral and written communication skills.
  • Thinking skills: critical thinking, problem-solving, analytical skills.
  • Capacities in information seeking and evaluation.
  • Planning and time management.
  • Working with and in different institutional and national cultures.

Student Selection: A maximum of 25 students may enrol in this subject. Applicants must submit a copy of their most recent academic transcript as well as a one page cover letter and a two page CV highlighting their interest in the subject and previous academic and work experience. Interviews may also be conducted. Further details regarding the subject and how to apply will be posted on the subject page and emailed to LLB students during the second half of 2008.

Students will be expected to contribute to accommodation costs in Geneva.

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