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Public International Law - JURD7481
 UNSW Clancy Auditorium

Faculty: Faculty of Law
School:  Faculty of Law
Course Outline: See below
Campus: Kensington Campus
Career: Postgraduate
Units of Credit: 6
EFTSL: 0.12500 (more info)
Indicative Contact Hours per Week: 3
Enrolment Requirements:
Prerequisite: LAWS1001 and LAWS1011 and Corequisite: LAWS2311; Prerequisite: JURD7101 and JURD7111 and Corequisite: JURD7211
Excluded: LAWS3381
Fee Band: 3 (more info)
Further Information: See Class Timetable


This course aims to provide students with a solid introduction to some central topics within the field of public international law. It is a recommended pre- or co-requisite for all other international law courses offered by the School of Law.

International law seeks to order human affairs at the international level. Accordingly, it covers a vast field, including autonomy of peoples and territories, the allocation of resources (land, maritime, air), the preservation of the environment, the regulation of inter-State transactions, the resolution of disputes and the maintenance of international peace and security. International law has become not only an important, but an integral, part of both the international and domestic legal orders. The centrality of international law to our everyday lives and, in particular, to our practice as lawyers, cannot be overstated.

Recommended Prior Knowledge


Course Objectives

The specific aims of the course are:
  • To assist students to develop an understanding of the issues involved in the regulation of human affairs beyond a single State
  • To give students a basic working knowledge of the structure of the international legal system and its relationship to the Australian legal system
  • To enable students to develop an awareness of different methods of international as compared to national law, in such matters as textual interpretation and working with judicial decisions
  • To assist students to recognize international legal problems in their subsequent careers and to point them in the direction of ways of resolving them

Main Topics

  • Nature, scope and development of international law
  • Structure of the international legal system
  • Sources of international law
  • Law of treaties
  • International and municipal law
  • Personality, statehood and recognition
  • Title to territory
  • State jurisdiction
  • Immunity from jurisdiction
  • State responsibility


Class participation 10%
Mid-term research assignment (optional) 25%
Final exam either 65% or 90%, depending on optional essay

Course Texts


  • DJ Harris, Cases and Materials on International Law (6th ed., Sweet & Maxwell 2004) or the 7th edition, if available (please check with the UNSW Bookshop).
  • JP Fonteyne, A. McNaughton and JS Stellios (eds) Harris - Cases and Materials on International Law: an Australian Supplement (Lawbook Co., 2003)


  • I Brownlie, Basic Documents in International Law (5th edn OUP Oxford 2002)
  • M Evans (ed) International Law Documents (7th edn OUP Oxford 2005)
  • G Triggs, International Law: Contemporary Principles and Practices (LexisNexis Butterworths 2006).
  • M Shaw, Public International Law (6th edn CUP Cambridge 2008)
  • S Blay, R Piotrowicz and M Tsamenyi, Public International Law: An Australian Perspective (2nd edn OUP Melbourne 2005)
Note that all international instruments are available online.

A particularly useful resource can be found at, with links to all the major treaties.

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© The University of New South Wales (CRICOS Provider No.: 00098G), 2004-2011. The information contained in this Handbook is indicative only. While every effort is made to keep this information up-to-date, the University reserves the right to discontinue or vary arrangements, programs and courses at any time without notice and at its discretion. While the University will try to avoid or minimise any inconvenience, changes may also be made to programs, courses and staff after enrolment. The University may also set limits on the number of students in a course.