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LAWS104 Foundations of Law and Legal Research , LAWS107 Introduction to Australian Public Law

Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit deals with the concepts and theory of human rights and the international and national protection afforded to them. In doing so it examines the operation of the institutions and processes established to protect human rights and the role of the State. It also examines the content and impact of the Victorian Charter of Rights and Responsibilities, the ACT Human Rights Act and the operation of similar provisions in comparable jurisdictions.

This level four unit contributes to the development of:

  • advanced theoretical and technical knowledge in the field of International Human Rights Law
  • advanced, cognitive, technical and communication skills and the ability to apply these to complex Administrative law problems
  • advanced research and writing skills.
International Human Rights Law (IHRL) deals with the international content of human rights law and the framework for its implementation. Commencing with a consideration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the unit considers the nature and content of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. These legal instruments together constitute the International Bill of Rights. IHRL then examines important individual rights such as the right to life, the right to liberty, freedom of expression, the right to privacy, and the right to fair trial. It also considers the particular human rights issues presently faced by certain vulnerable groups internationally, for example, children and refugees. At each stage the unit examines issues and problems surrounding the mechanisms through which the United Nations seeks to make human rights real.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Describe and critically analyse the fundamental principles of International Human Rights Law. (GA3, GA4, GA5) 

LO2 - Describe and critically analyse the content of the major international human rights treaties. (GA3, GA4, GA5) 

LO3 - Describe and practically apply the law relating to key internationally recognized human rights. (GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8) 

LO4 -Describe and practically apply the law relating to the human rights of specific vulnerable groups in the international community (GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8)  

LO5 -Describe and critically analyse the UN system for the protection and promotion of international human rights. (GA5, GA6, GA8) 

Graduate attributes

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 


Topics will include: 

  1. An Introduction to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 
  2. The Content of the ICCPR and ICESCR 
  3. The United Nations and Human Rights 
  4. The UN Human Rights Council  
  5. The UN Human Rights Treaty System  
  6. The Implementation of International Human Rights Treaties 
  7. The Legal Application of Core International Human Rights.  
  8. The Rights of Vulnerable Peoples 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Mode:Lectures, tutorials, electronic consultation, library tasks and presentations or Online lectures and activities.  


Duration:3 hours per week over 12 weeks or equivalent.  Students are expected to spend 150 hours in total for this unit. 


This level four elective unit allows students to demonstrate knowledge, skills and understanding in a specialist area of law using advanced research skills.  


Our strategy is to encourage students to creatively engage with unit content and to practice advanced research skills. 


The unit is designed to be delivered in intensive, weekly or online. We have taken a blended learning approach to provide accessibility and flexibility to our students and a student focused approach that increases depth of learning and engagement through actively utilising LEO.   

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment strategy is designed to assess knowledge, skills and understanding in a specialist area of law, and to develop research capacity.  


The assessment tasks for this unit are designed to demonstrate achievement of each of the learning outcomes listed.  

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assignment 1, Research Essay  


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5 

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9, 

Final Examination 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5 

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9, 

Representative texts and references

McBeth A. Nolan J. and Rice S. The International Law of Human Rights, Oxford University Press, 2017 (ILHR)  

Smith, Rhona Textbook on International Human Rights, Sixth Edition, Oxford University Press,  



The Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966 

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 1966 

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