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Unit of study_

LAWS1023: Public International Law

Semester 1, 2024 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

The compulsory unit of study is an introduction to the general problems, sources and techniques of public international law. The unit surveys the fundamental rules and principles public international law through an examination of the following topics (1) the nature, function and scope of public international law, (2) the sources of public international law, (3) the law of treaties including principles of treaty interpretation, (4) the relationship between public international law and municipal law, (5) the extent of civil and criminal state jurisdiction, (6) immunities from state jurisdiction including diplomatic privileges and immunities (7) state responsibility, including diplomatic protection, nationality of claims and exhaustion of local remedies, (8) regulation of the use of force in international relations, and (9) dispute settlement.

Unit details and rules

Unit code LAWS1023
Academic unit Law
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Tim Stephens,
Lecturer(s) Tim Stephens,
Tutor(s) Emily Crawford,
Chester Brown,
Ed Couzens,
Tamer Morris,
Ravi Prakash Vyas,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Supervised exam
Final examination (60%)
In-person Final Exam. 2.5 hours (plus 30 minutes reading time).
60% Formal exam period 2.5 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Participation Participation
One-page summary of this week's tutorial question
0% Ongoing One-page summary
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Small test Early Feedback Task
0% Week 03
Due date: 08 Mar 2024 at 18:00

Closing date: 15 Mar 2024
Online Multiple Choice Quiz
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO5
Supervised test
In-semester test (40%)
In-person Interim Test 1.5 hours (plus 30 minutes reading time).
40% Week 06
Due date: 25 Mar 2024 at 16:15
1.5 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4 LO2 LO6

Early feedback task

This unit includes an early feedback task, designed to give you feedback prior to the census date for this unit. Details are provided in the Canvas site and your result will be recorded in your Marks page. It is important that you actively engage with this task so that the University can support you to be successful in this unit.

Assessment summary

Early Feedback Task: As part of our commitment to student success, this unit includes a required Early Feedback Task. This task is designed to provide students with timely insights into their understanding and engagement with the unit content. It serves as a diagnostic tool to identify areas of strength and areas needing improvement, ensuring that each student is on track for successful completion of the unit.

The Early Feedback Task in this unit is an online multiple-choice quiz covering Topic 1 (Development, Nature and Scope of International Law), Topic 2 (Sources of International Law), Topic 3 (Treaties) and Topic 4 (International Law and Australian Law).

The task will be available on Canvas from 6.00PM Tuesday 5 March 2024 and must be completed by 6.00PM Friday 8 March 2024 (Sydney, Australia time).  This is a non-weighted task and students will be provided with immediate, automated feedback, upon completion of the task. #earlyfeedbacktask

Participation: Compulsory class participation requiring students to lead discussion in one tutorial of a nominated tutorial question and to submit a one-page summary. Assessed on a pass/fail basis.
In-semester test (40%):
Compulsory 1.5 hour (plus 30 minutes reading time) open book on-campus test in Week 6 on Monday 25 March 2024 commencing at 4.15pm and concluding at 6.15pm (Sydney, Australia time). The test will take the place of the scheduled lecture and will be held at an alternative venue. The test will comprise a problem question that may address Topic 2 (Sources of International Law), Topic 3 (Treaties) and Topic 4 (International Law and Australian Law). The outcome of a successful Special Consideration application will be a replacement test. 
Final examination (60%):
Compulsory 2.5 hour (plus 30 minutes reading time) open book on-campus examination during the formal examination period. The examination will comprise a mixture of problem and essay questions. The examination may cover any material addressed in the lectures and tutorials throughout the entire unit. The outcome of a successful Special Consideration application will be a replacement exam, which may be by way of a viva voce examination. 

Detailed information for each assessment may be found on Canvas.

Use of editors or proof-readers
The use of assistance in preparing and editing assessment tasks in this unit of study is strictly prohibited. Assistance includes human and automated writing tools (not including spell checking).

Assessment requirement to pass a unit of study
A student must make a genuine attempt at all assessment tasks set out in this Unit of Study in order to obtain a Pass mark and grade (or above); otherwise an Absent Fail grade will be recorded as the student’s result for this Unit of Study.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2021 (Schedule 1). 

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

  • Completely answers the question.
  • Contains striking originality of approach or analysis.
  • Demonstrates exhaustive or innovative research (where independent research required).
  • Exceptionally well written, structured and expressed.
  • Is otherwise exceptional in some way.


75 - 84

  • Completely answers the question.
  • Achieves a critical and evaluative approach to the issues.
  • Content and structure is well organised in support of the argument.
  • Demonstrates extensive research and analysis to support a well-documented argument.
  • Generally well expressed and free from errors.
  • Has a clear structure and is well articulated.


65 - 74

  • Covers main issues fairly well in answering the question.
  • Contains no significant errors.
  • Demonstrates an attempted critical approach to the issues.
  • Demonstrates reasonably sound research and analysis in addressing the key issues.
  • Has a clear structure and reasonably clear expression.


50 - 64

  • Identifies the key issues, but does not follow through with a reasoned argument.
  • Contains some significant errors.
  • Displays satisfactory engagement with the key issues.
  • Offers a descriptive summary of material relevant to the question.
  • Superficial use of material, and may display a tendency to paraphrase.
  • Demonstrates little evidence of in-depth research or analysis.
  • Adequate expression.
  • Overall, demonstrates the minimum level of competence in the assessment and satisfies the requirements to proceed to higher-level studies in the degree or subject area.


0 - 49

  • Does not answer the question.
  • Contains significant or numerous errors.
  • Few or no identifiable arguments.
  • Content that is inappropriate or irrelevant.
  • Lack of research or analysis.
  • Difficult or impossible to understand through poor grammar, expression or structure.
  • Overall, does not demonstrate the minimum level of competence in the assessment.

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

This unit has an exception to the standard University policy or supplementary information has been provided by the unit coordinator. This information is displayed below:

Late penalties do not apply to exams or tests and any late submission will not be accepted.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

Support for students

The Support for Students Policy 2023 reflects the University’s commitment to supporting students in their academic journey and making the University safe for students. It is important that you read and understand this policy so that you are familiar with the range of support services available to you and understand how to engage with them.

The University uses email as its primary source of communication with students who need support under the Support for Students Policy 2023. Make sure you check your University email regularly and respond to any communications received from the University.

Learning resources and detailed information about weekly assessment and learning activities can be accessed via Canvas. It is essential that you visit your unit of study Canvas site to ensure you are up to date with all of your tasks.

If you are having difficulties completing your studies, or are feeling unsure about your progress, we are here to help. You can access the support services offered by the University at any time:

Support and Services (including health and wellbeing services, financial support and learning support)
Course planning and administration
Meet with an Academic Adviser

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week -01 Development, nature and scope of public international law Online class (2 hr) LO5
Week 01 Introduction to the unit; sources of public international law Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO5
Introduction to the unit Tutorial (1 hr) LO5
Week 02 The law of treaties Lecture (2 hr) LO1
Question 1: Sources Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO4 LO6
Week 03 International law and domestic law Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO5
Question 2: Treaties Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO4 LO6
Week 04 Personality, statehood, self-determination Lecture (2 hr) LO3
Question 3: International law and municipal law Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4 LO6
Week 05 Title to territory Lecture (2 hr) LO4
Question 4: Personality, statehood, self-determination Tutorial (1 hr) LO3 LO4 LO6
Week 06 Question 5: Title to territory Tutorial (1 hr) LO3 LO4 LO6
Week 07 State jurisdiction Lecture (2 hr) LO3
Question 6: State jurisdiction Tutorial (1 hr) LO3 LO4 LO6
Week 08 Immunity from jurisdiction I Lecture (2 hr) LO3
Question 7: Immunity from jurisdiction I Tutorial (1 hr) LO3 LO4 LO6
Week 09 Immunity from jurisdiction II Lecture (2 hr) LO3
Question 8: Immunity from jurisdiction II Tutorial (1 hr) LO3 LO4 LO6
Week 10 State responsibility I Lecture (2 hr) LO3
Question 9: State responsibility 1 Tutorial (1 hr) LO3 LO4 LO6
Week 11 State responsibility II Lecture (2 hr) LO3
Question 10: State responsibility II Tutorial (1 hr) LO3 LO4 LO6
Week 12 Use of force Lecture (2 hr) LO3
Question 11: Use of force Tutorial (1 hr) LO3 LO4 LO6
Week 13 Implementation, enforcement, accountability Lecture (2 hr) LO3
Question 12: Implementation, enforcement, accountability Tutorial (1 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6

Attendance and class requirements

Attendance: All students are required to attend at least 70% of classes to satisfy the pass requirements for each unit of study. Failure to meet this requirement may result in a student being precluded from sitting the final assessment. 

Referencing: The Sydney Law School expects you to use the Australian Guide to Legal Citation (4th edition, 2018) for your footnoting style, although you should confirm this with your lecturer, and a link to the library website where this is set out comprehensively is available at  

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

Emily Crawford, Alison Pert, and Ben Saul (eds), Public International Law (CUP, 2023)

Additional readings for the unit will be made available on Canvas.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. Identify and evaluate the sources of public international law, including the law of treaties, and the relationship between them.
  • LO2. Identify and evaluate to an advanced level the relationship between public international law and Australian domestic law.
  • LO3. Critically analyse and address rules and principles of international law concerning international legal personality, statehood, self-determination, acquisition of territory, state immunity, state jurisdiction, state responsibility, the use of armed force, and the resolution of international disputes.
  • LO4. Apply fundamental rules and principles of public international law in innovative ways to analyse complex and real-world factual scenarios.
  • LO5. Evaluate and think critically about the strengths and limitations of public international law as a legal system.
  • LO6. Convey your knowledge, understanding, analysis and evaluation of public international law both orally and in writing in a clear and logical manner using plain and concise language.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

The assessment has been updated in line with the new assessment framework.


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.