Public International Law

Course code LAWS4012
Available in 2016
2016 Course Timetables


This course focuses on the relations between states, international organisations and other legal actors within the public international legal framework. It explores competing notions of sovereignty, and the dilemma of conflict resolution between parties under international law. Special attention will be paid to the recognition of states and the consequent obligations of states, the law of treaties, and topical issues in international law, for example criminal justice, refugees, the environment and human rights. Students will gain knowledge of the public international legal framework, and be exposed to a range of controversial debates which reflect the highly politicised nature of international law. A blended learning format will enable active learning and encourage student engagement with topical issues.



  • Semester 2 - 2016

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. A thorough and contextual knowledge of public international law doctrine, principles and the role of legal institutions, in the areas covered during the course.

2. The capacity to Identify contentious issues in public international law, and apply legal doctrine to solve problems.

3. A critical perspective of the relationship between public international law and the politics of the international community.

4. A Reflective understanding of the significance of notions of justice, sovereignty and rights within the international legal framework.

5. The ability to conduct high-level legal research, exploring primary and secondary materials, and provide critical analysis of problems and questions.

6. The capacity to prepare and present cogent arguments, orally and in writing, and make productive contributions to class debate and discussion.


Module 1: The nature of international law and its key actors

Nature of international law 

States and other international legal actors; recognition Week 3: Recognition; acquisition of territory

Module 2: The sources of international law

Sources of international law


Treaties and the relationship between international and domestic law

Module 3: Conflict and international law 

The use of force and the enforcement of international law

Iraq war and self-defence

State responsibility; peaceful settlement of international disputes

Module 4: Contemporary debates in international law

The content of this module may change between yearly iterations and may include:

International criminal law

International human rights law

International air and space law

International environmental law


This course is only available to students enrolled in the Bachelor of Laws and associated combined degree programs or Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and associated combined degree programs.

Assumed Knowledge

LAWS1001A, LAWS1001B, LAWS1003A, LAWS1003B, LAWS2004A, LAWS2004B, LAWS3004A, LAWS3004B, LAWS4001

Assessment Items

Participation: Seminar participation

Essay: Major Research Essay

Presentation: Group Presentation

Quiz: Online quizzes

Contact Hours


Self-Directed Learning

Self-Directed 1 hour(s) per Week for Full Term


Face to Face On Campus 2 hour(s) per Week for Full Term

One hour online learning module to be completed each week prior to seminar