The United Nations Security Council

Subject LAWS70435 (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:

The Security Council will be taught by two experts in international law: Dr Devika Hovell and Professor Gerry Simpson. They adopt a political, ethical, historical and juridical approach to this key institution in international law. The subject will appeal to students who are interested in advancing their knowledge of the international system (acquired in Principles of International Law) by focusing on – and critiquing the operation of – the central security organisation in the global order.

Principal topics include:

  • History, great powers and global governance
  • Functions of the Security Council and subsidiary organs: enforcer, law-maker, judge?
  • The Security Council and legal accountability: limits of the rule of law and judicial review
  • The Security Council and political accountability: demos, deliberation and dialogue
  • Security Council reform and the concept of global public law.
Learning Outcomes:

A student who has successfully completed the subject will:

  • Be able to think about, discuss and reflect on the field of international law anew
  • Acquire a good working knowledge of the Security Council and its interactions with other bodies, and with general international law
  • Possess an advanced, detailed, and integrated understanding of the workings and institutional architecture of the Security Council
  • Be able to situate the Council in a history of Great Power management
  • Have the cognitive and technical skills to generate critical and creative ideas relating to the workings of the Council and to critically evaluate, with creativity and autonomy, existing legal theories about its operation in settings both constitutional and political
  • Have the cognitive and technical skills to independently examine, research and analyse existing and emerging legal issues relating to the law and practice of the Council
  • Have the communication skills to clearly articulate and convey complex information about the law and history of the Council to relevant specialist and non-specialist audiences
  • Be able to demonstrate autonomy, expert judgment and responsibility as a practitioner and student in the field of international law generally and Security Council law more particularly.
  • Take-home examination (100%) (17-20 July)
  • 10,000 word research paper (100%) (31 August) 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 Government Law
Graduate Diploma in International Law
Graduate Diploma in Legal Studies
Master of Laws
Master of Public and International Law

Download PDF version.