International Law and Ethics

Subject LAWS70369 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

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

This subject is not offered in 2016.

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 subject commencement 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:


For more information:

Phone: +61 3 8344 6190

Subject Overview:

This subject addresses how international actors understand and take responsibility for their activities and roles within international institutions. The aim of this subject is to deepen accounts of the ethical, moral and legal understanding of holding office. Based around a series of case studies, this subject will analyse forms of ethical and legal engagement used to addressed current global problems. In particular it will consider the role and professional ethics of lawyers in UN institutions, the role of the jurist in conceptualising and creating international norms, and the configuration of ethical, moral and legal relations by international institutions, including NGOs, in new forms of regulation.

Principal topics will be drawn from the following:

  • Global legal problems addressed:
    • Public trials (War Crimes) and international values
    • Public administration and international government
    • Health, poverty and international action
    • Transnational trade, negotiations and international exchanges
  • Obligations of role and office in the international domain
    • Sites of ethical reflection and discourse: courts, administrative bodies, assemblies, universities, public domain, NGOs
    • Roles of the international domain the ethics of international actors
    • The importance of the cosmopolitan and global citizen
    • The roles of legal norms in generating form of international morality
  • Practical reasoning in international domain
    • Practical reasoning and ethical judgement
    • Limits, distortions, criticisms of ethics and ethical discourses
    • Research and writing about the obligations of office
    • Research and writing about ethics, morality and law.
Learning Outcomes:

A student who has successfully completed this subject will:

  • Have an advanced and integrated knowledge of processes and actors involved in the institutionalisation of ‘ethical’ responses to specific subject matters of international law
  • Have a detailed knowledge of the historical context and range of theories of law, morality and ethics propounded by international institutions
  • Have an advanced critical understanding of selected approaches to the responsibilities of office in the international domain
  • Be able to recognise and reflect upon the responsibility of legal professionals for the renewal of laws.
  • Class participation (10%)
  • 2,000 word class assignment (15%) (16 September)
  • 7,000 word research paper (70%) (23 November) 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:

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

Related Course(s): Graduate Diploma in Asian Law
Graduate Diploma in International Law
Graduate Diploma in Legal Studies
Master of Law and Development
Master of Laws
Master of Public and International Law

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