Public International Law

Course code LAWS4012
Available in 2016
2016 Course Timetables


This course focuses on the relations between states, international governmental bodies, communities and individuals 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, particularly 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 flipped classroom format will enable active learning and encourage student engagement with topical issues.



  • Semester 2 - 2016

Learning Outcomes

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

Week 1: Nature of international law
Week 2: States and other international legal actors; recognition
Week 3: Recognition; acquisition of territory

Module 2: The sources of international law

Week 4: Sources of international law
Week 5: Treaties
Week 6: Treaties and the relationship between international and domestic law

Module 3: Conflict and international law3

Week 7: The use of force and the enforcement of international law
Week 8: Iraq war and self-defence
Week 9: State responsibility; peaceful settlement of international disputes

Module 4: Contemporary debates in international law

Week 10: International criminal law
Week 11: International human rights law
Week 12: International environmental law

Replacing Course(s)

This course replaces the following course(s): LAWS5020. Students who have successfully completed LAWS5020 are not eligible to enrol in LAWS4012.


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