Public International Law

Subject LAWS50041 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 5 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2016:

Semester 1, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 29-Feb-2016 to 29-May-2016
Assessment Period End 24-Jun-2016
Last date to Self-Enrol 23-Nov-2015
Census Date 31-Mar-2016
Last date to Withdraw without fail 06-May-2016

This subject has a quota of 60 students. Please refer to the Melbourne Law JD website for further information about subject quotas

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 36 hours
Total Time Commitment:

144 hours


Successful completion of all the below subjects:

Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:
Semester 1
Semester 1
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects:

Students who have completed the below subject are not permitted to take LAWS50041 Public International Law:

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:

  • The ability to attend classes and actively engage in the analysis 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 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 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 inhibit them from meeting these inherent academic requirements are encouraged to contact Student Equity and Disability Support.


Dr Joseph Kikonyogo


Phone: +61 3 8344 4475

Subject Overview:

This subject is designed to enable students to critically analyse the principles of public international law and to understand the way in which these principles may be used in the practice of law. The subject will build on the understanding of international law acquired in Principles of Public Law and enable students to engage deeply with international law in the context of contemporary international events. Students are encouraged to evaluate multiple perspectives – of states, of individuals and of other actors – in order to acquire an expert understanding of the impact of public international law on public and private activities. The topics addressed in the course will include:

  • Developing International Law;
  • International Legal Personality – the role of states, international organisations and individuals in international law;
  • The Application of Treaties;
  • Jurisdiction and Immunity from Jurisdiction;
  • The Responsibility of States and Other Actors for Breaches of International Law;
  • The Use of Force and the Powers of the Security Council of the United Nations;
  • Judicial and Non-Judicial Methods of International Dispute Resolution.

The aim is to acquire an historically-situated understanding of international law and the choices made and not made by international lawyers in the context of current international disputes.

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this subject, students should:

  • Have developed an advanced understanding of the development and structure of the international legal system and the theoretical bases for public international law;
  • Have developed an advanced and integrated understanding of the principles of public international law;
  • Be able to reflect critically on the role of states, international organisations and individuals in international law;
  • Have the capacity to apply international law principles to complex international events, including events involving territorial disputes, jurisdictional disputes and the use of force by states and other international actors;
  • Be able to think creatively about the type of arguments that may be raised in international legal disputes in fora such as the International Court of Justice.

  • Interim assessment - written memorandum of 2,000 words (20%);
  • Supervised open-book 3-hour examination (80%).

The due date of the above assessment will be available to students via the LMS.

Prescribed Texts:
  • Martin Dixon, Robert McCorquodale and Sarah Williams, Cases and Materials on International Law (5 th ed, OUP, 2011);
  • Specialist printed materials will be made 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 skills to draw on their developed understanding of Public International Law to:

  • Interpret the historical context of the law in order to analyse complex contemporary politico-legal problems;
  • Investigate and analyse diverse aspects of the international legal regime through the location and close reading of a range of relevant primary and secondary source materials;
  • Develop well-reasoned and sophisticated arguments as to the appropriate legal principles to apply in various circumstances in which aspects of public international law are relevant;
  • Present these specialist arguments, analyses and principles in the form of written arguments that are appropriately investigated, structured, developed, supported and referenced.

Related Course(s): Juris Doctor

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