International Health Law

Subject LAWS70151 (2015)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2015.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 7 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2015:

July, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start 22-Jun-2015
Teaching Period 20-Jul-2015 to 24-Jul-2015
Assessment Period End 14-Oct-2015
Last date to Self-Enrol 26-Jun-2015
Census Date 20-Jul-2015
Last date to Withdraw without fail 04-Sep-2015

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: The total class time is between 24 and 26 hours.
Total Time Commitment:

The pre-teaching period commences four weeks before the scheduled subject start date. From this time, students are expected to access and review the Reading Guide that will be available from the LMS subject page and the subject materials provided by the subject coordinator, which will be available from Melbourne Law School. Refer to the Reading Guide for confirmation of which resources need to be read and what other preparation is required before the teaching period commences.

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:


Prof Lawrence Gostin


For more information:

Phone: +61 3 8344 6190

Subject Overview:

Health inequalities represent the most enduring and consequential global health challenge of our time. A child born in sub-Saharan Africa, for example, will live on average nearly 30 years less than a child born in Australia. This subject provides students with a firm understanding of the role of international law in promoting, or harming, human health. It covers ‘hard’ law such as the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, as well as ‘soft law’ such as the World Health Organization (WHO) code of practice on the international recruitment of health personnel. The lecturer brings into the discussion multiple international fields that powerfully affect health, such as trade, agriculture and climate change. The central theme running throughout the discussions will be global health justice. The subject uses innovative teaching tools to highly engage students, including case studies and real-life simulations.

Professor Lawrence Gostin is an internationally renowned scholar in international public health law at Georgetown University and has recently published a definitive and ground-breaking book on this subject (Global Health Law, Harvard University Press, 2014).

This subject will provide students with an in-depth understanding of global health law and examine the major contemporary problems in global health, the principal international legal instruments governing global health and the principal international organisations and innovative solutions for global health governance in the 21st century. It will cover naturally occurring infectious diseases, past and future epidemics, bioterrorism events (eg anthrax or smallpox) and/or major chronic diseases caused by modern lifestyles (eg obesity or tobacco use).

Principal topics include:

  • Health in a globalised world
  • The ‘grand challenges’ in global health
  • National security and global health: national interests, enlightened self-interest and health diplomacy
  • International health law: the WHO International Health Regulations and the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control
  • Health and human rights
  • World trade and world health
  • Innovations in global health governance: towards a framework convention on global health.
Learning Outcomes:

A student who has successfully completed this subject will:

  • Have analysed and critically reflected on the legal, economic, political and public health policy concepts relevant to global public health law
  • Have an advanced and integrated understanding of the major institutions and organisations affecting global health, including intergovernmental organisations, non-governmental organisations and foundations
  • Have examined and have a clear understanding of the international legislative and political processes and how the processes influence the creation and implementation of global health law commitments
  • Understand the theoretical framework surrounding contemporary forms of international law relating to global health, including the WHO International Health Regulations, the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, World Trade Organization (WTO) treaties and international human rights
  • Have developed expert, specialised cognitive and technical skills to independently assess and explain the most pressing contemporary problems in global health and innovative solutions for global health governance.

10,000 word research paper (100%) (14 October) on a topic approved by the subject coordinator.

A minimum of 75% attendance is a hurdle requirement.

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:

This subject has a quota of 30 students. Please refer to the website for further information about the management of subject quotas and waitlists.

Download PDF version.