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Unit of study_

LAWS6856: Anti-Terrorism Law

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

This unit explores how international law has confronted terrorist violence from the mid-19th century to the present, including under transnational and international criminal law, the law on the use of military force, the law of armed conflict, human rights law, measures adopted by the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly, and the law of state responsibility. It considers controversies about the (in)adequacy of the law in areas such as �targeted killings' (or extrajudicial assassinations?), aerial drones, detention and trial of suspects, �irregular renditions' (illegal abductions?), �enhanced interrogation' (torture?), �shoot to kill' policies, foreign terrorist fighters and citizen stripping, mass surveillance and privacy, and public emergency laws. Selected regional laws (in Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa) and national laws (particularly in Australia, the UK and the US) implementing international obligations are also considered. The study of terrorism, and the law's response to it, is ultimately a study of when violence is justified, against whom, and for what purposes � whether it is �freedom fighters' or �state terrorism', or extreme religious challenges to secular norms, at issue.

Unit details and rules

Unit code LAWS6856
Academic unit Law
Credit points 6
CISS6011 or LAWS3483
Assumed knowledge

Students should have either completed LAWS6243 International Law I or have an understanding in at least one of the following areas: public or a specialised area of international law or criminal law or criminology or human rights or security and conflict studies acquired through university studies and/or relevant professional experience.

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Ben Saul,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Option 1: Essay (60%) and Problem Assignment (40%)
Essay (60%)
0% -
Due date: 02 Nov 2020 at 16:00
5000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO7 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment Option 1: Essay (60%) and problem assignment (40%)
Problem Assignment (40%)
0% -
Due date: 23 Nov 2020 at 16:00
3000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Assignment Option 2: Essay Only
Essay (100%)
0% -
Due date: 23 Nov 2020 at 16:00
8000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Assignment Option 3: Problem Assignment Only
Problem Assignment (100%)
0% -
Due date: 23 Nov 2020 at 16:00
6000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7

Assessment summary

  • Option 1: Essay and Assignment: Students choosing this option must submit a 5000 word essay, worth 60% as well as a problem based take home assignment, worth 40%.
  • Option 2: Essay Only: Students choosing this option must submit an 8,000 word essay, worth 100%.
  • Option 3: Assignment Only: Students choosing this option must submit this assignment which involves a problem question and short answers. It will contribute 100% of the final grade.

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

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:

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 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
- 1. The international response to terrorism before 9/11; 2. International counter-terrorism after 9/11: UN Security Council; 3. Defining terrorism: reasons for, and elements of; 4. Exceptions to a definition of terrorism: is terrorism ever justified? Lecture and tutorial (7 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
1. Law on the use of force 1: self-defence against terrorist groups; 2. Law on the use of force 2: pre-emption; collective security; 3. Law of armed conflict 1: classifying ‘wars’ on terror; 4. Law of armed conflict 2: categorising ‘terrorists’ Lecture and tutorial (7 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
1. Law of armed conflict 3: targeting for participation in hostilities; 2. Law of armed conflict 4: security detention, war crimes, trial; 3. Human rights 1: extraterritoriality, armed conflict, limitations, derogation, UN charter supremacy, ‘balancing’ rights and security; 4. Human rights 2: specific rights: life, rendition, torture Lecture and tutorial (7 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
1. Australian responses 1: criminal law responses; 2. Australian responses 2: prevention, control, surveillance; 3. Australian responses 3: foreign fighters, migration, citizenship; 4. Australian responses 4: sedition, advocacy, censorship, speech Lecture and tutorial (7 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7

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 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

All readings for this unit can be accessed through the Library eReserve, available on Canvas.

Recommended Reading 

Further Resources

For extensive links to United Nations materials on terrorism:

United Nations action against terrorism: see

For a comprehensive collection of primary legal materials on terrorism:

  • Ben Saul (ed), Documents in International Law: Terrorism (Hart, Oxford, 2012)

For an overview of terrorism and international law:

For a practitioner-oriented overview of terrorism and international law:

  • Arvinder Sambei, Anton du Plessis and Martin Polaine, Counter-Terrorism Law and Practice: An International Handbook (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2009)

For a ‘rule of law’ oriented analysis of terrorism and international and foreign law:

  • Ana Maria Salinas de Frias, Katja Samuel and Nigel White (eds), Counter-Terrorism: International Law and Practice (OUP 2012)
  • E Stubbins Bates / IBA Taskforce (eds), Terrorism and International Law: Accountability, Remedies and Reform (OUP 2011)

Books on particular areas of terrorism and international law:

  • B Saul, Defining Terrorism in International Law (OUP 2006)
  • G A Bianchi (ed), Enforcing International Law Norms against Terrorism (Hart 2004)
  • J Boulden and T Weiss (eds), Terrorism and the UN: Before and After September 11 (University of Indiana Press 2004)
  • P Van Krieken (ed), Terrorism and the International Legal Order (Asser 2002)
  • W Heere (ed), Terrorism and the Military: International Legal Implications (Asser 2003)
  • A Bianchi and A Keller (eds), Counter-Terrorism: Democracy’s Challenge (Hart 2008)
  • D Moeckli, Human Rights and Non-Discrimination in the ‘War on Terror’ (OUP 2008)
  • Richard Wilson (ed), Human Rights in the ‘War on Terror’ (CUP 2005)
  • O Gross & F Ní Aoláin, Law in Times of Crisis: Emergency Powers in Theory and Practice (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2006)
  • V Ramraj (ed), Emergencies and the Limits of Legality (CUP 2008)
  • K Trapp, State Responsibility for International Terrorism (OUP 2011)

For an overview of selected foreign domestic counter-terrorism laws:

On Australian counter-terrorism laws:

  • A Lynch, E MacDonald and G Williams (eds), Law and Liberty in the War on Terror (Federation Press 2007)

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. know well the content of the law in each of the topic areas
  • LO2. apply advanced legal analysis and reasoning skills
  • LO3. understand and critique the processes of anti-terrorism law making
  • LO4. evaluate the strengths and limitations of anti-terrorism laws
  • LO5. demonstrate awareness of the political, ideological, ethical and philosophical implications of terrorism laws
  • LO6. identify the sources of terrorism laws and be able to research further in the area
  • LO7. utilize enhanced skills of legal research and writing in anti- terrorism laws (and be able to use research methods to write in a clear and logical manner, using plain and concise language).

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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