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Unit of study_

LAWS6343: International Law and Technology

Intensive November, 2020 [Block mode] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

Advances in technology pose new challenges for international governance. In an increasingly inter-connected world, new technology raises legal issues relating to its use, distribution and control. This unit will focus on the response of the international community to technological progress across the different specialised regimes in international law. The unit will commence with an overview of the framework of international law and international courts and the challenges relating to the regulation of new technology. This unit will then consider the intersection of technology and key specialised regimes in international law, focusing on Trade, Environment, Law of the Sea, Health, Crime, Use of Armed Force and Intellectual Property Rights. The unit will be taught using case studies, allowing students to discuss and analyse specific examples of new technology and international regulation.

Unit details and rules

Unit code LAWS6343
Academic unit Law
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Irene Baghoomians,
Lecturer(s) Rebecca Connolly,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment hurdle task Research essay
70% Formal exam period
Due date: 25 Nov 2020 at 16:00
7000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3
Participation hurdle task Round-table Discussion (via Zoom conference)
Class Problem
15% Ongoing n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3
Assignment hurdle task Position Paper
Class Problem
15% Week 13
Due date: 06 Nov 2020 at 16:00
1,500 words including footnotes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3
hurdle task = hurdle task ?

Assessment summary

Class problem: The class problem will be a ‘mock’ international dispute involving a current technology and international law topic. The Class Problem will set out details of the dispute/events and include a proposal for new draft international laws. The set topic (and materials) for the Class Problem will be advised ONE WEEK prior to the first lecture date. There are two parts to the assessment for the Class Problem:  (1) the Position Paper; and (2) the Round Table Discussion.

Position paper: You are to select a STATE (it must be one of the 193 Member States of the United Nations). The Position Paper must set out your State’s position on the proposed draft international laws. You may use dot points.The Position Paper must be submitted electronically by 5pm on 6 November 2020 AEDT (which is 4pm AEST).

Round table discussion: You will be allocated to ONE of the Round Table Discussions to be held on Saturday 31 October 2020 (you must attend your allocated Round Table). The Round-Table discussion is 1.5 hours long and will be held by a zoom conference.​​​

  • Research essay: Students will be provided with FIVE different essay topic questions (covering 5 different sub-topics of the course). Students must select ONE of these 5 different topics for their research essay. The essay topic questions will be emailed to the class list (and put on Canvas) at 6pm AEDT (which is 5pm AEST) on 31 October 2020.


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 2.5% of the total marks available for the piece of assessment per calendar day or part thereof.

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 02 1. Introduction; 2. Success stories; 3. Wildlife conservation, endangered species and technology; 4. Science and technology in the World Trade Organisation – the precautionary principle, US/China trade war Lecture and tutorial (6.5 hr)  
1. Agricultural biotechnology 2. Technology and international health law; 3. Technology and climate change; 4. Stem cell research and human cloning Lecture and tutorial (6.5 hr)  
1. Technology and the law of the sea; 2. Space law and technology; 3. Cyber security; 4. Discussion Lecture and tutorial (6.5 hr)  
Round table discussions Lecture and tutorial (6.5 hr)  

Attendance and class requirements

Attendance: Please refer to information on Canvas.

Word count penalty: A piece of assessment which exceeds the prescribed word limit will attract a penalty of 2.5% of the total marks available for the piece of assessment for every 100 words, or part thereof, over the limit.

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

Please refer to information 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. Gain an in-depth understanding of the international legal response to new technology, including the relevant international legal instruments and organisations.
  • LO2. Understand the policy challenges for regulating new technology, particularly issues crossing over different specialised areas of international law.
  • LO3. Examine the current debates regarding technological progress and the policy arguments that drive regulation.

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.



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