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Unit of study_

LAWS6177: Tax Treaties

Intensive May, 2021 [Block mode] - Remote

This unit is designed to study the policy, detailed rules and practical application of Australia's international tax treaties against the background of the OECD Model Tax Convention on Income and on Capital. Upon successful completion of this unit a student should have an advanced understanding of the policies underlying the Australian tax treaty position in relation to the taxation of various kinds of income, as well as a detailed knowledge of the law applicable to interpretation of Australia's treaties. The unit includes a study of: principles of tax treaties; interpretation of tax treaties; and selected articles of the OECD Model and Australian tax treaties.

Unit details and rules

Unit code LAWS6177
Academic unit Law
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge

It is assumed that students undertaking this unit have an understanding of Australian income taxation law commensurate with that which would be obtained from completing undergraduate study in Australian taxation law or five years working with Australian tax law in a law or accounting practice in an industry role or in the Australian Taxation Office. For students who do not have such knowledge or work experience they first should undertake LAWS6825 Introduction to Australian Business Tax before enrolling in this unit. The completion of LAWS6209 Australian International Taxation will provide students; without such knowledge or work experience; with additional knowledge and skills that will assist in successfully completing this unit.

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Richard Vann,
Lecturer(s) Richard Vann,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Final exam (Take-home short release) Type D final exam hurdle task Final exam (70%)
Final exam
0% Please select a valid week from the list below
Due date: 29 Jun 2021 at 16:30

Closing date: 29 Jun 2021
2 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Assignment Capstone essay (70%)
Capstone essay in lieu of exam
0% Please select a valid week from the list below
Due date: 29 Jun 2021 at 17:00
7500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Assignment hurdle task Class quiz (30%)
Online assessment
0% Week 12
Due date: 27 May 2021 at 15:00

Closing date: 27 May 2021
1 hour
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
hurdle task = hurdle task ?
Type D final exam = Type D final exam ?

Assessment summary

Quiz (30%): This online assessment will be largely problem based and will cover the material in Problems 1-4. It will be released via Canvas at 2pm on 27 May 2021 and due at 3pm on 27 May 2021.

Final exam (70%): The exam will be largely problem based and conducted online via Canvas. It will be released at 2pm on 29 June 2021 and due at 4.30pm on 29 June 2021. Exam duration is 2 hours writing time and 30 minutes ready time. The material in the quiz will not be directly examined again in the exam but may form necessary background to answering a problem on another area of the course.

Capstone essay (70%) (optional, in lieu of exam, with permission)

LLM students who are undertaking this unit towards the end of their degree, and need a capstone experience to complete their degree, may must apply to the unit coordinator to undertake the assessment option of a Capstone Essay.

The Capstone Essay will replace the final exam and be worth 70% of you marks for the unit. Your essay should comply with Academic Integrity requirements, and be submitted in compliance with Assignment Submission requirements, noted elsewhere in this Unit of Study Outline.

The Capstone Essay must be 7,500 words (refer to the word count rules under ‘Penalties’ below) and is due at 5:00pm AEST on 29 June 2021. 

Students wishing to take up this option are required to complete the form available at, and when they apply online, to upload the relevant Unit Coordinator’s approval email.

Your essay topic should respond to the material covered in the present unit. However, at the same time, in order to serve as a capstone for your LLM, it should build upon the learning that has taken place during your LLM studies more generally.


Key dates for Capstone Essay:

  • Topic Proposal: 100-200 words; due 11 May 2021 (via email to Professor Richard Vann). Professor Vann will provide you with feedback on your proposal by email.
  • Outline/progress check-in: 500 words; due 31 May 2021 (via email to Professor Richard Vann). Professor Vann may provide you with additional feedback, comments and/or guidance at this stage by email.
  • Final paper: due on 29 June 2021, at 5:00pm AEST (via Canvas)

Due to the scaffolded nature of this written assessment, anonymous marking may not be practical.

The School resolutions in relation to the LLM capstone requirement are available from the School Handbook.



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 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.
  • Demonstrates the minimum level of competence and satisfies the requirements to proceed to higher-level studies.


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

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:

Due to the nature of the assessment(s), no late submission of work will be accepted. After the assessment due date/time, please apply for an alternate assessment by submitting a special consideration application

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 08 Policy, history and context of the OECD and UN Models Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Implementation and interpretation of tax treaties (Article 3) Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Residence (Articles 1, 4) Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Taxes covered (Article 2) Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Permanent establishment (Article 5) Lecture (3.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 09 Business profits and associated enterprises (Articles 7, 9) Lecture (3.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
International transport, property, capital gains (Articles 6, 8, 13) Lecture (3.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Dividends, interest and royalties (Articles 10, 11, 12) Lecture (3.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Enterprise and employment services (Articles 5, 12, 14, 15) Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Relief of double taxation (Articles 21, 23) Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Tax treaties and tax avoidance (Article 29) Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4

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 online attendance as specified by the Unit Coordinator. 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: 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

OECD Model Tax Convention on Income and on Capital (2017 Condensed Version). This is available from OECD iLibrary via Library databases

UN Model Double Taxation Convention between Developed and Developing Countries. The 2017 version is available from the UN website

International Tax Agreements Act 1953 (Agreements Act). Extracts from this Act and overseas legislation about implementing tax treaties are provided in a separate handout available on the unit of study website.

Australia’s tax treaties with China, Germany, Japan, UK and US (including protocol). The Japan and UK treaties were amended by the MLI on 1 January 2019. A side-by-side comparison of the treaties is available as a separate handout on the unit of study website and will be regularly used during the seminars. The prescribed treaties are required reading for each problem. Occasionally the problems indicate that specific provisions of the prescribed treaties are required reading for problems where the relevance of the provisions is not obvious.

Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures to Prevent Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (MLI) and its Explanatory Statement as well as Australia’s notifications and reservations 

Other required reading is indicated in the reading lists by ASTERISKS. The required reading material largely consists of reports and other materials published by the OECD and the UN as well as case law and is generally available electronically.

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. understand the policy underlying the legal rules on taxation covered in this unit of study
  • LO2. have a knowledge of the current legal rules on taxation covered in this unit of study
  • LO3. have the ability to interpret other legal rules on taxation applicable to the area covered by the unit of study, whether current or future
  • LO4. apply the legal rules on taxation covered by this unit of study to practical problems

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


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

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