Institutions in International Law

Subject LAWS40062 (2010)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2010.

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

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2010:

March, Parkville - 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 during early Semester 1 and the rest taught intensively in Geneva, Switzerland, during the Winter Recess. Please refer to the Law School subject page for specific dates.

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.


Corequisites: None.
Recommended Background Knowledge:

Studies in public international law are an advantage.

Non Allowed Subjects: None.
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering requests for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills, and Assessment Requirements of this entry.

The University is dedicated to providing support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website:


Assoc Prof Andrew Mitchell, Assoc Prof Bruce Oswald, Assoc Prof Tania Voon


Melbourne Law School Student Centre
Tel: +61 3 8344 4475
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, due early October (70%).
Prescribed Texts:

Printed materials will be available from the Melbourne Law School.

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.

This subject has a quota of 25. Please contact the Law Student Centre for enrolment information.

Students are selected into this subject via an application process. Please refer to the Law School subject page for application information.

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