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Unit of study_

LAWS5005: Public International Law

Semester 2, 2021 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

The compulsory unit of study is an introduction to 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 LAWS5005
Academic unit Law
Credit points 6
LAWS1023 or LAWS1018
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Ed Couzens,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Final exam (Take-home short release) Type D final exam Final take-home exam
2.5 hours (plus 30 minutes reading time) final take-home exam
70% Formal exam period 2.5 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3
In-semester test (Take-home short release) Type D in-semester exam Short-release in-semester test
2 hour (plus 30 minutes reading time) in-semester test
30% Week 05
Due date: 10 Sep 2021 at 15:00
2 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3 LO2
Type D final exam = Type D final exam ?
Type D in-semester exam = Type D in-semester exam ?

Assessment summary

  • Short-release in-semester test: The 2,500 word test may cover any material addressed in the lectures and tutorials during weeks 1-4 and may be problem-based or a combination of question types. The test will be released at 3pm on Friday 10 September 2021, and writing concludes at 5.30pm on the same day (Inclusive of 30 minutes reading time). 
  • Final take-home examination: The take-home examination will be 2.5 hours plus 30 minutes reading time. Maximum 3,500 word length. The examination may cover any material addressed in the lectures and tutorials throughout the unit.

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

IMPORTANT NOTE: A student must make a satisfactory attempt of all assessment tasks set out for 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:

Late penalties do not apply to exams and 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.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Introduction to the Unit Nature of Public International Law Sources of International Law Seminar (4 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 02 The Law of Treaties Seminar (4 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 03 Public International Law and Municipal Law Seminar (4 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 04 Personality, Statehood, Self-determination Seminar (4 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 05 Reading week Independent study (4 hr)  
Week 06 Title to Territory Seminar (4 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 07 State Jurisdiction Seminar (4 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 08 Reading week Independent study (4 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 09 Immunity from Jurisdiction Seminar (4 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 10 State Responsibility Seminar (4 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 11 Use of Force Seminar (4 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 12 Implementation, Enforcement, Accountability Seminar (4 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 13 Reading week Independent study (4 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3

Attendance and class requirements

  • Attendance: All students are required to attend 70% of classes to satisfy the pass requirements for each unit of study. Attendance requirements may be satisfied in person for room students and on-line for zoom students. Failure to meet this requirement may result in a student being precluded from sitting the final assessment.
  • Word count 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: bibliography; footnote numbers; footnote citation; cover page and include: body text; headings and sub-headings; quotations; anything other than numbers and citations in footnotes.
  • Referencing guide: The Sydney Law School expects you to use the most recent version of 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 website where this is set out comprehensively is available at About the Australian Guide to Legal Citation (AGLC).

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

Readings for this unit can be accessed through the Library eReserve, or through purchase.


  • James Crawford Brownlie’s Principles of Public International Law (Oxford University Press, 9th ed., 2019).


  • Martin Dixon, Robert McCorquodale, Sarah Williams Cases and Materials on International Law (Oxford University Press, 6th ed., 2016).
  • David Harris & Sandesh Sivakumaran Cases and Materials on International Law (Sweet & Maxwell, 9th ed., 2021).

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. Demonstrate skills of legal analysis and reasoning, including the capacity to engage in a critical analysis of the sources of international law, the main rules and principles of international law, and key aspects of international legal theory.
  • LO2. Demonstrate skills of legal problem solving, including the ability to analyse complex fact situations involving issues of international law, to identify those issues, and to apply relevant rules and principles of international law in order to develop a response to them.
  • LO3. Demonstrate skills of legal writing and basic skills of legal research, as well as the ability to write and to contribute to discussion in tutorials in a clear and logical manner, using plain and concise language, on issues of international 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 from 2020.


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.