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Unit of study_

LAWS3499: Migration, Refugees and Forced Migration

Semester 2, 2023 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

Migration, Refugees and Forced Migration is designed to introduce students to a most fast moving and engaging area of public law. At one level, this unit is about government regulation of the entry of persons into Australia. As such, it is a branch of applied administrative law that concerns the very make-up of our society, affecting both who we live with and how we live our lives. Statistics show that almost half of Australian citizens were either born overseas or had an Australian-born parent. Dramatic skills shortages have seen unprecedented reliance on migrants brought to Australia on temporary and permanent visas. In spite of this, controversy persists over the nature of Australia's immigration program and the extent to which the government is doing enough to control both unlawful entry and the quality of the (lawful) migrants. Issues surrounding refugees and asylum seekers are a constant preoccupation, as are questions about protecting the rights of migrant workers. Covering both immigration law and domestic aspects of the law of forced migration, the course also explores issues of human rights and the interaction between domestic and international law. With Sydney receiving the lion's share of the migrants that come to Australia each year, migration law has become a growth area for both lawyers and for migration agents. By placing the current mechanisms for the controlling migration in their legal, social, historical and economic contexts, this unit provides an opportunity to explore the "big" issues raised by migration and to look at why the subject has assumed such a central role in the development of Australia's identity as a nation. The unit of study is designed to foster the following skills: a. Skills of statutory interpretation and problem-solving, through the study and use in practical situations of the Migration Act 1958 and its associated Regulations; b. Skills of legal analysis and evaluation, gained through the examination and synthesis of relevant legislation; of court decisions and of rulings by the Migration Review Tribunal; the Refugee Review Tribunal; and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in its migration division; and c. Oral and writing skills, through class participation, simulation exercises and the preparation of a major research paper.

Unit details and rules

Unit code LAWS3499
Academic unit Law
Credit points 6
LAWS2010 and LAWS1021 and LAWS2011
LAWS2010 and LAWS1023
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Mary Crock,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Supervised exam
Final exam (60%)
Written exam combining short essays and problem solving
60% Formal exam period 2 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Assignment Research essay (40%)
40% Week 07
Due date: 11 Sep 2023 at 23:59

Closing date: 25 Sep 2023
3000 words / 6 weeks
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6

Assessment summary

  • Research essay 3000 words (excluding footnotes and bibliography) (40%): The purpose of the research essay is to allow students to pursue a chosen area or topic within the course in more depth. The project aims to encourage the development of basic research and analytical skills; as well as fostering clear thinking and expression of ideas. Students will be given a choice of essay topics and they will be released on the canvas site at 5:00pm (Sydney, Australia time) on 31 July 2023. The essay will give students the opportunity to explore aspects of migration law within a broader theoretical and jurisprudential framework. The essay is due on at 11.59pm (Sydney, Australia time) on 11 September 2023.
  • Final exam (60%): The written exam (2 hours writing plus 30 minutes reading time) will test the student's ability to apply the law in given fact situations, just as they will be required to do in practice. A choice of essay questions will allow students to demonstrate their grasp of issues involving the interface between immigration and different areas of public law, politics and economics. The exam will be open book and will cover all aspects of the unit of study. 

Word limit penalty: A piece of assessment which exceeds the prescribed word limit will attract a penalty of 10% of the total marks available for the piece of assessment for every 100 words, or part thereof. The total word count for essay and other written assessments will exclude all footnotes and any bibliography (if required).

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).

Special consideration: Successful grants of Special Consideration may involve alternative tasks, as appropriate.

Assessment requirements 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 2014 (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:

The late submission of a piece of assessment, which has not been granted an extension, will attract a penalty of 10% of the total marks available for the piece of assessment per 24 hours or part thereof, after the due time on the due date. For example, a submission after 11:59pm but before the same time the following day will attract a 10% penalty. If you are encountering difficulties submitting a piece of work on time you should always reach out to the unit coordinator before the due time. The date and time of submission as recorded by Canvas is taken as the official and final record of a student’s submission.

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.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 White Australia and the Evolution of a Legal Regime Seminar (4 hr)  
Week 02 Constitutional Legacies Seminar (4 hr)  
Week 03 Introduction to the Migration Act 1958 and the Migration Regulations 1994 Seminar (4 hr)  
Week 04 Common entry (exclusion) criteria Seminar (4 hr)  
Week 05 The Family Migration Program Seminar (4 hr)  
Week 07 Business and Skills-Based Migration Seminar (4 hr)  
Week 08 Refugees and Humanitarian Migration Seminar (4 hr)  
Week 10 Immigration Compliance and Enforcement Seminar (4 hr)  
Week 11 Merits review Seminar (4 hr)  
Week 12 Judicial review Seminar (4 hr)  

Attendance and class requirements

Attendance: All students are required to attend 70% of classes (or as otherwise specified by the Unit Coordinator) to satisfy the pass requirements for each unit of study. Attendance requirements may be satisfied by in person attendance as specified by the Unit Coordinator. 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

All readings for this unit is available on Canvas site under 'Reading List'. 

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. synthesize and apply the underlying rules, principles, and practices of migration law and policy within the broad contexts of their operation and development.
  • LO2. critically analyse and construct innovative responses to legal questions relating to Australian migration and refugee laws and policies within their historical and economic context.
  • LO3. identify, appraise, and integrate relevant factual, legal, scholarly, and policy information in an ethical manner to navigate migration laws and policies.
  • LO4. exercise respectful and ethical conduct while acknowledging professional responsibilities towards the legal system, community, and the pursuit of justice.
  • LO5. using sound legal research methodologies, analyse the interconnection between migration law, citizenship law, international human rights law, refugee law, administrative law, constitutional law, criminal law, and national security.
  • LO6. effectively and respectfully communicate with diverse legal and non-legal audiences, employ self-reflection to enhance personal and professional capability, and cultivate cultural competence. Additionally, comprehend Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ perspectives within the context of Australian citizenship law, including the impacts of colonisation and the cultural specificity of law.

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.

No changes have been made since this unit was last offered


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