Skip to main content
Unit of study_

LAWS6343: International Law and Technology

Intensive November, 2023 [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 Rosemary Lyster,
Lecturer(s) Rebecca Connolly,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Participation Group Panel Discussion (15%)
15% Week 01
Due date: 17 Oct 2023 at 09:30

Closing date: 17 Oct 2023
6 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3 LO2
Assignment Position Paper (15%)
Part 1 of class problem
15% Week 02
Due date: 23 Oct 2023 at 17:00

Closing date: 30 Oct 2023
1000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3
Assignment Research essay (70%)
70% Week 06
Due date: 20 Nov 2023 at 17:00

Closing date: 27 Nov 2023
6000 words / 5 weeks
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3
Assignment Optional Capstone Essay (80%)
0% Week 06
Due date: 20 Nov 2023 at 17:00

Closing date: 27 Nov 2023
7000 words / 5 weeks
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3

Assessment summary

  • Class Problem (30%):  The Class problem will be a ‘mock’ international dispute involving a current technology and international law topic. There will be three different topic options for the Class Problem – you must sign up to ONE of these topics. There will be only 20 student spots allocated to each of the three different topics – if your chosen topic has reached its 20 spots, you MUST select one of the other topics.   The set topics (and materials) for the Class Problem will be released at 9:00am (Sydney, Australia time) on 6 October 2023 and you will be able to select and sign up to one of the three topics via Canvas.  

    There are two parts to the assessment for the Class Problem:  (1) the Position Paper (15%); and (2) the Group Panel Discussion (15%). 

  1. Position Paper (15%):  You will represent 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 Class Problem topic. The Position Paper must be no longer than 1000 words including footnotes. The Position Paper is due by 5:00pm (Sydney, Australia time) on 23 October 2023.
  2. Group Panel Discussion (15%): (equivalent of 1000 words). The Group Panel Discussions will occur on 17 October 2023.  You are expected to share and discuss your research findings on your selected State’s position on your selected topic and how that position relates to other Member States of the United Nations. Topic 1 will run from 9:30am – 11:30am, Topic 2 will run from 12:00pm – 2:00pm; and Topic 3 will run from 2:30pm-4:30pm. You MUST attend and present at the Group Panel Discussion that corresponds to your topic selection and observe the other Group Panel Discussions throughout the day.    
  • Research essay (70%): Students will be provided with FOUR different essay topic questions (covering 4 different sub-topics of the unit). Students must select ONE of these 4 different topics for their research essay. The essay topic questions will be made available on Canvas at 6:00pm (Sydney, Australia time) on 14 October 2023The Research Essay is limited to a maximum of 6000 words. The Research Essay is due at 5:00pm (Sydney, Australia time) on 20 November 2023.
  • Optional 7000 word Capstone Essay (80%): LLM students completing the final units of their degrees and who require a Capstone Essay as a degree requirement must notify the unit coordinator before 6 October 2023. The Capstone Essay may not be completed without approval from the unit coordinator. The due date for the Optional Capstone Essay is 5:00pm (Sydney, Australia time) on 20 November 2023.  You must select ONE topic out of the FOUR set Research essay topics for this unit. The Capstone Essay should build on work already completed in the degree; you may not recycle work already submitted for assessment in the degree.

    The Capstone Essay (80%) replaces the 6000 word essay (70%). The Class Problem will be re-weighted to 20% as follows: 

        - position Paper weighted at 10% and

        - the Round Table Discussion weighted at 10%. 

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). The use of Studiosity does not breach this rule but must be acknowledged.  

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, without an approved 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 the due time but before the same time the following day will attract a 10% penalty.

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
Ongoing Introduction: International Legal Framework and the challenge of regulating new technology; Success stories: (1) Ozone Layer Protection; and (2) Nuclear Non-Proliferation; Science and technology and multilateral trade and Agricultural Biotechnology: Golden Rice and the Vitamin A deficiency. Seminar (6.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Technology & International Health Law: Pharmaceuticals and vaccines (human trials); Neurotechnologies and the Law; The Internet and IT – (1) Cambridge Analytica and the Facebook data scandal; (2) the ‘Right to Be Forgotten’ and Disaster Response – Global Pandemic – COVID 19 (and technology) case study. Seminar (6.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Regulatory approaches to Automated Decision Making and Artificial Intelligence; Space Law and Technology and Armed Conflict …. “Do we need new international law for lethal autonomous weapons?” – seminar class discussion. Seminar (6.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
International Law and Technology wrap up and Group panel discussion Seminar (6.5 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3

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. 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 are available on Canvas on the Reading List tab.

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.

No changes have been made.


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.