International Criminal Law

Subject LAWS40100 (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: 36 hours, one x 2 hour lecture and one x 1 hour lecture.
Total Time Commitment:

144 hours.


Criminal Law and Procedure or its equivalent.



Recommended Background Knowledge:

Some background in public international law will be helpful.

Non Allowed Subjects:


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 provide a comprehensive introduction to the field of international criminal law. It will be divided into four main parts. Part 1 will focus on the development of international criminal law, with an emphasis on the origins of the concept of individual criminal responsibility and the objectives of international prosecutions. It will also provide an overview of international criminal tribunals from Nuremberg to the International Criminal Court. Part 2 will focus on the four “core crimes” of international law: war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, and aggression. It will also discuss the related crimes of torture and terrorism. Part 3 will take a close look at the structure and function of the ICC, with an emphasis on its principles of responsibility, defenses, and procedural rules. Finally, Part 4 will discuss issues raised by the national prosecution of international crimes, such as immunities and extradition.

  • To provide an understanding the field of international criminal law, including its basic concepts and methodologies;
  • To explain the evolution of the concept of individual criminal responsibility;
  • To explore how the most important international tribunals – the Nuremberg and Tokyo IMTs, the ICTY and ICTR, the ICC, and the “hybrid” tribunals – contributed to the development of international criminal law;
  • To understand the definition of the core international crimes (war crimes, crimes against humanity, aggression, and genocide), as well as the transnational crimes of torture and terrorism;
  • To understand the basic principles of liability and the defenses that are available under international criminal law;
  • To examine the different international and national procedures for prosecuting international crimes;
  • To provide an introduction to sources and methods of research in the field of international criminal law.
  • 5,000 word research essay due by the end of examination period (80%);
  • Class participation (20%).
Prescribed Texts:

Printed materials will be available from 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:

  • The ability to self-direct an analytical research project;
  • The ability to write a sustained essay using the sources and methods of international criminal law;
  • The ability to clearly and effectively present a topic and defend an argument concerning international criminal law;
  • The ability too think critically about the basic assumptions of international criminal law.

This subject has a quota of 40 (approval pending). Please contact the Law Student Centre for enrolment information.

The essay in this subject is regarded as a substantial piece of legal writing for honours purposes.

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