Refugee Colloqium

Subject LAWS40077 (2012)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2012.

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

This subject is not offered in 2012.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: Weekly 2 hour seminar (total 24 hours).
Total Time Commitment:

144 hours.

Prerequisites: Principles of Public Law; Constitutional Law; Administrative Law or in each case their equivalent.
Corequisites: None.
Recommended Background Knowledge: International Law is not a prerequisite, but it is recommended that students be enrolled in or have completed International Law. Refugee Law is not a prerequisite, but priority will be given to students who have completed Refugee Law.
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:


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

This subject will be taught as part of a wider collaboration with the University of Michigan's Program in Refugee and Asylum Law. Specifically, it will provide the opportunity for Melbourne Law School students to work on the Michigan Guidelines project - an innovative, internationally recognised project on cutting-edge issues in international refugee law.

Every second year, the University of Michigan's Program in Refugee and Asylum Law hosts a Colloquium on Challenges in International Refugee Law in which leading academic experts are invited to Ann Arbor in order to develop an intellectual framework for resolution of a significant problem facing international refugee law. The purpose of the Colloquium is to tackle a single, cutting-edge concern via preparatory study and a two-day debate and policy formulation meeting. Students are actively involved in the drafting of background research for the meeting, and participate as colleagues with the invited experts. There have been four colloquia to date, resulting in four sets of Michigan Guidelines on Challenges in International Refugee law. The Michigan Guidelines have been cited and applied by courts around the world. The Guidelines can be found at

In this seminar course, Melbourne students will work with Dr Michelle Foster to prepare the background paper for the 5th Colloquium on Challenges in International Refugee Law to be held in Ann Arbor in November 2008. This will involve in-depth collaborative research on an important and cutting-edge issue in international refugee law. The background report will form the basis for discussion at the 5 th Colloquium. (There will be an opportunity for 4-6 students in this subject to attend the Colloquium in Ann Arbor October/November 2008. Some funding may be available from the Law School).


A student who has successfully completed the subject should:

  • Have a knowledge of the different international instruments governing refugee law at the international level;
  • Understand the key controversies in interpreting the 1951 Refugee Convention;
  • Understand the way in which international refugee law interacts with the Australian domestic legal system;
  • Understand how comparative material may be used in refugee cases in Australia;
  • Be able to undertake research in refugee law;
  • Be able to communicate in writing their understanding of refugee law.

There are two pieces of written assessment:

  1. A 1,500 word ‘reflection' on a core set of introductory materials: worth 20%;
  2. A 3,500 word research report prepared on a specific aspect of the background paper: worth 80%. This will involve collaborative research with 1 other student, as directed by the lecturer.

There is also a hurdle requirement to pass the subject: attendance at 80% of classes.

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 Refugee Law, students should have developed the following generic skills:

  • The capacity for close reading of a range of sources;
  • The capacity for critical and independent thought and reflection;
  • The capacity for deductive analysis;
  • The capacity to solve problems through the synthesis and evaluation of information;
  • The capacity to communicate, both orally and in writing;
  • The capacity to undertake independent legal research;
  • Intercultural sensitivity and understanding.

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