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

Teaching organisation

4 hours per week for twelve weeks or equivalent.

Unit rationale, description and aim

This level four unit contributes to the development of:

  • advanced theoretical and technical knowledge in a specialist field of Law
  • advanced, cognitive, technical and communication skills and the ability to apply these to complex legal problems
  • advanced research and writing skills
This unit deals with the nature and content of public international law - the law governing the relationships between sovereign states and applying to the conventions and organizations established to regulate international affairs. It also deals with private international law, or conflict of laws - the law governing the resolution of conflicts arising when the parties to a dispute reside in, or wish to use the law of, different jurisdictions. The units complement International Trade Law and International Trade Human Rights Law which deal with particular aspects of international law and its regulation of international activity and human rights.

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 evaluate the content and operation of public international law (GA3, GA4, GA5, GA9,)  

LO2 - Apply public international law to factual situations and thereby advise clients and others of their rights and obligations in those situations (GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA9)  

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

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

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


Topics will include: 


  1. The nature, development and sources of international law  
  2. The relationship between international and national law  
  3. The subjects of international law  
  4. The Right to territory  
  5. The law of the sea  
  6. The law of treaties  
  7. The United Nations and other international institutions  

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 skills of legal analysis.  


Public International Law requires intense problem-solving skills across multiple frameworks, including geographic and temporal. Confronting an “international problem” often requires the application of multiple rules (e.g. rules of jurisdiction, rules for choosing law, and rules for execution) and the choices to be made are complex and also dependent on prior knowledge of how cases were decided in the past. The learning and teaching strategies employed (essay, problem questions) will guide students through the labyrinth of decisions that need to be made to produce a “right answer” – or at least a set of plausible answers which may be adopted by a court, government or client in a local (or foreign) jurisdiction. 


The unit is designed to be delivered in intensive, weekly mode or online mode. 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 advanced skills of legal analysis.  

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

Various international approaches have been integrated into a scaled learning experience which begins with basic knowledge and culminates with sophisticated problem solving. The approach adopted reflects the approaches taken locally and in foreign jurisdictions because the nature of the subject matter (international law, both public and private) requires an ability to “step inside” the mind of the foreign lawyer and legal system as well as “stepping back” into the local system and applying what has been learned.  

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Participation: This assessment requires students to demonstrate their ability to communicate in a legal manner. Tasks may include legal writing, case analysis, group discussion. 


LO1, LO2 

GA3, GA4, GA6, GA7, GA9 

Research essay: students are required to demonstrate their ability to research the assigned topic and critically evaluate the relevant legal systems and laws 



GA3, GA4, GA5, GA9 

Examination: students are required to answer essay questions or hypothetical problems that will be based on the material presented in lectures and tutorials. Examination will be completed online via LEO. 


LO1, LO2 

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA9 

Representative texts and references

Hall, Stephen, Principles of International Law (LexisNexis, 5th ed, 2016)  

Blay, Sam, Ryszard Piotrowicz and B. Martin Tsamenyi, Public International Law: An Australian Perspective (Oxford University Press, 2nd ed, 2005)  

Davies, M, A S Bell and P L G Brereton, Nygh's Conflict of Laws in Australia (LexisNexis, 8th ed, 2014)  

Shaw, Malcolm, International Law (Cambridge University Press, 7th ed, 2014)  

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