Institutions in International Law

Subject LAWS50045 (2011)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2011.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 5 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2011:

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 (July). 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.
Prerequisites: Permission from the subject coordinator.
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:

Studies in public international law are an advantage.

Non Allowed Subjects: A student may not undertake both this subject and Global Lawyer during their degree.
Core Participation Requirements:

The Melbourne Law School welcomes applications from students with disabilities. It is University and Law School policy to take all reasonable steps to enable the participation of students with disabilities, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student’s participation in the School’s programs.

The inherent academic requirements for the study in the Melbourne Law School are:

  1. The ability to attend classes and actively engage in the analysis of complex materials and debate;
  2. The ability to read, analyse and comprehend complex written legal materials and complex interdisciplinary materials;
  3. The ability to clearly and independently communicate in writing a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and critically evaluate these;
  4. The ability to clearly and independently communicate orally a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and critically evaluate these;
  5. The ability to work independently and as a part of a group;
  6. The ability to present orally and in writing legal analysis to a professional standard.

Students must possess behavioural and social attributes that enable them to participate in a complex learning environment. Students are required to take responsibility for their own participation and learning. They also contribute to the learning of other students in collaborative learning environments, demonstrating interpersonal skills and an understanding of the needs of other students. Assessment may include the outcomes of tasks completed in collaboration with other students.

Students who feel their disability will prevent them from participating in tasks involving these inherent academic requirements are encouraged to contact the Disability Liaison Unit:


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


Melbourne Law School Student Centre
Tel: +61 3 8344 4475
Subject Overview:

This 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 institutions. 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.

A candidate who has 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. 6,000 word research paper, due early October (70%) - Code 2 applies to the word limit.
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.

A maximum of 25 students may enrol in this subject. Students are selected into this subject via an application process. Please refer to the Law School subject page for application information.

Any travel and accommodation costs associated with this subject are not included in tuition fees.

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