Law of Treaties

Subject LAWS70456 (2014)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2014.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 7 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2014.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: The total class time is between 24 and 26 hours.
Total Time Commitment: Not available
Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:

Applicants without legal qualifications should note that subjects are offered in the discipline of law at an advanced graduate level. While every effort will be made to meet the needs of students trained in other fields, concessions will not be made in the general level of instruction or assessment. Most subjects assume the knowledge usually acquired in a degree in law (LLB, JD or equivalent). Applicants should note that admission to some subjects in the Melbourne Law Masters will be dependent upon the individual applicant’s educational background and professional experience.

Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

The Melbourne Law Masters welcomes applications from students with disabilities. The inherent academic requirements for study in the Melbourne Law Masters are:

  • The ability to attend a minimum of 75% of classes and actively engage in the analysis and critique of complex materials and debate;
  • The ability to read, analyse and comprehend complex written legal materials and complex interdisciplinary materials;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate in writing a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and to critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate orally a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to work independently and as a part of a group;
  • The ability to present orally and in writing legal analysis to a professional standard.

Students who feel their disability will inhibit them from meeting these inherent academic requirements are encouraged to contact the Disability Liaison Unit:


For more information, contact the Melbourne Law Masters office.

Phone: +61 3 8344 6190

Subject Overview:

Treaties have been described as the maids-of-all-work of international law. Being agreements between states, they are used to regulate all conceivable aspects of international and transnational affairs—bilaterally to effect one-off trades between states (for example the transfer of property) and multilaterally to make rules that aspire to be globally applicable (for example on the suppression of terrorism). Broadly following the structure of the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, ‘the treaty on treaties’, this subject traces the ‘life-cycle’ of treaties from their inception to their termination. In short, this subject considers what treaties are, how they are made, applied and unmade.

Principal topics will include:

  • Treaty as a source of international law
  • The rules governing treaty-making and stages of the treaty-making process
  • Individualising treaty obligations for specific participants
  • Entry into force of a treaty and obligations prior thereto
  • Depositing, registering and publishing a treaty
  • Interpreting and applying a treaty
  • Amending and terminating a treaty
  • Grounds for the invalidity of a treaty
  • Succession to a treaty in case of dissolution or merger of states
  • Interaction between a treaty and other rules of international law
  • Status of a treaty in a national legal system.

A treaty negotiation exercise forms a core part of the subject.

Learning Outcomes:

A student who has successfully completed this subject will be able to:

  • Appreciate the impact of state sovereignty on the treaty-making process and on international law-making more generally
  • Critically evaluate theories for distinguishing between different types of international agreements (treaties, political accords, memoranda of understanding etc.)
  • Assess the pros and cons of using different forms of international agreements in different circumstances
  • Explain the different stages of the treaty-making process
  • Find and access the texts of treaties, use the status information of treaties and properly cite treaties in support of legal arguments
  • Draft basic treaties and documents related to the treaty-making process
  • Analyse information and solve problems using a method that integrates procedural, substantive, ethical, and strategic considerations
  • Work effectively as team members to solve problems
  • Appreciate the significance of cultural differences in professional practice.
  • Practical class exercise and a 2,000 word report (30%) (8 October)
  • Take-home examination (70%) (21 – 24 November)
  • 7,000 word research paper (70%) (17 December) on a topic approved by the subject coordinator
Prescribed Texts:

Core subject materials will be provided free of charge to all students. Some subjects require further texts to be purchased. Details regarding any prescribed texts will be provided prior to the commencement of the subject.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Links to further information:

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