Global Health Law

Subject LAWS50077 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

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

This subject is not offered in 2016.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 30 hours.
Total Time Commitment:

138 hours.

Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:
November, Semester 2
Semester 1
Semester 1
Semester 2
Semester 2
Semester 2
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects:
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:

  1. The ability to attend classes and actively engage in the analysis of complex materials and debate;
  2. The ability to read, analyse and comprehend complex written legal materials and complex interdisciplinary materials;
  3. The ability to clearly and independently communicate in writing a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and critically evaluate these;
  4. The ability to clearly and independently communicate orally a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and critically evaluate these;
  5. The ability to work independently and as a part of a group;
  6. 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 prevent them from participating in tasks involving these inherent academic requirements are encouraged to contact the Disability Liaison Unit:


Phone: +61 3 8344 4475

Subject Overview:

Global health law represents the understanding that the world presently faces a range of major health challenges that cannot be successfully addressed without cooperation through international law and institutions. Global health law has developed in the context of deep health inequities between rich and poor countries, with the overwhelming burden of disease borne by the most disadvantaged people in the poorest countries, which lack the resources to prevent and treat disease. This subject explores major global health problems confronting the developed and developing world today, such as the rise of non-communicable diseases; the role of ‘lifestyle factors’ such as tobacco, alcohol and food; emergency preparedness; health workforce shortages; the availability of essential medicines; and effective development assistance for health.

Using the current problems in global health as case studies, this subject will offer students an advanced understanding of the complex set of laws, policies, institutions, and actors in the field of global health law and governance, taking into account relevant principles from other disciplines, such as epidemiology, economics, politics, and international relations. This knowledge will be presented in conjunction with the theoretical and conceptual debates that have marked the historical development of global health law. There will be intense study of the legal texts and organisations relating directly to global health, such as the Constitution of the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Health Regulations, the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the WHO Code on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel, and the WHO Global Strategy on Alcohol Control. The subject will also investigate how these core aspects of global health law are integrated with many other specialist legal fields, such as labour law, intellectual property law, human rights law, and international trade and investment law.

Learning Outcomes:

Students who have successfully completed this subject should have an advanced and integrated understanding of, and be able to expertly analyse and critically reflect on:

  • The major global health challenges of the 21st century and how these challenges have changed in the past century and will continue to change in response to economic, geo-political, and technological developments;
  • The historical, theoretical, conceptual and ethical foundations of global health law;
  • The range of specialist international laws, policies, institutions and law-and policy-making processes that directly relate to global health;
  • The range of other international laws, policies, institutions and law-and policy-making processes that impact on global health;
  • The role of law in relation to global health, including its place as a cause of global health problems, its potential effectiveness as a solution, and its position as a barrier to the development of good health policies and interventions;
  • The interactions and tensions between global health law and other dominant disciplines in the field of international public health, including epidemiology, economics, and international relations;
  • The tensions that arise between global health law and other areas of international law, and in reconciling domestic and international law and policy in connection with issues of public health; and
  • Other past, current and emerging disputes and controversies within the realm of global health law.
  1. Independent Research essay (60%): students will prepare a 4,000 word research essay on a topic developed by them and approved by the coordinator, or set by the coordinator;
  2. Problem solving exercise (30%): students will be assessed on an in-class problem solving and negotiation exercise to be conducted in small groups, involving students applying advanced knowledge to a new crisis or controversy in global health;
  3. Class participation (10%): students will be assessed on class participation and contribution. Note that all students are expected to actively engage with, and provide thoughtful contribution to, class discussions and activities.
Prescribed Texts:

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 and demonstrated expert skills in the following areas:

  • Mastery and synthesis of the complex body of specialist knowledge that constitutes global health law;
  • Ability to engage in high-level analysis and critical reflection on the range of challenging legal questions arising in the field of global health law;
  • Analysis and evaluation of, and critical reflection on, the many unsettled theoretical, conceptual, ethical and political problems that arise in connection with global health law;
  • Application of detailed knowledge of global health law and theory to current and emerging problems in global health law in a manner that reflects expert knowledge and judgment;
  • Incisive oral and written communication of applied knowledge of global health law to legal and non-legal audiences as would occur in a real-world situation, such as to epidemiologists, health practitioners, economists, and government officials; and
  • Conducting in-depth research independently and at an advanced level so as to investigate and offer justified, sophisticated conclusions to questions in global health that would benefit from advanced legal inquiry.
Related Course(s): Juris Doctor

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