• Offered by Law School
  • ANU College ANU College of Law
  • Course subject Laws
  • Areas of interest Law

A participant who has successfully completed this course should have a clear understanding of:

  • the conventional and customary law obligations of States in respect of refugees and other asylum-seekers and of the rights of applicants
  • the protection mechanisms, both national and international, that operate for the immediate and long-term protection of refuge-seekers and the policy considerations that affect contemporary State attitudes to such groups
  • the legal problems affecting national interpretations and application of refugee concepts, with particular emphasis on definitional problems, status determination procedures and non-refoulement.

The course will focus mainly on the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol, supplemented by additional materials that assist in the interpretation, construction and critique of these instruments. Particular attention will be paid to national implementation of refugee protection and status determination procedures in Australia, comparing and contrasting the approach taken, where appropriate, with that of other nations.

Addressed will be the origins of the international system of protection, its limitations and deficiencies; the role and relevance of UNHCR; definitional problems; exclusion and cessation of refugee status; core concepts of protection (including complementary protection), asylum, non-refoulement, penalization and refugee rights; asylum, temporary refuge, temporary protection and burden-sharing; durable solutions; protracted refugee situations; status determination procedures; detention; ‘deflection' techniques; other categories such as ‘environmental' refugees and internally displaced persons; and a consideration of possible future directions for refugee law.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

A student who has successfully completed this course should:
  • develop coherent and advanced knowledge of the substance, rationale, and history of the legal norms that govern the international protection system for refugees, the rights international law bestows upon them and the obligations of States in this area;
  • have acquired a familiarity with the legal problems caused by definitional and operational issues under the provisions of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, and be able to identify and provide solutions to such complex problems with intellectual independence;
  • be able to discuss and debate the various policy issues raised by the implementation of international and domestic protection systems in light of contemporary circumstances, demonstrating and applying advanced conceptual and theoretical knowledge;
  • have technical skills to work with primary and secondary sources describing and critiquing the operation of the refugee law regime in Australia, including relevant legislation, case law, policy and determination procedures, and contemporary issues in the development of domestic refugee law; 
  • use those technical skills to plan, design and execute a piece of research which develops new understanding and perspectives with some independence;(vi) be able to communicate that new understanding to a variety of audiences and in a variety of written formats (including oral presentation, legal submission, law reform submission, and other critical research essay writing)
  • consistent with the College’s commitment to law reform and social justice, have developed a critical understanding of the roles of refugee lawyers can play in promoting refugees’ access to justice and equality before the law.

Indicative Assessment

The scheme of assessment has FIVE non-redeemable compulsory elements:

a) A 15-minute class presentation, worth 20% of the final mark
1200 word legal submission on behalf of a hypothetical claimant worth 20 %;
b) A 3,800 – 4,200 word research assignment on an approved topic of the student’s choice, worth 70%;
3,800 – 4,200 word law reform submission (domestic or international) on an approved topic, worth 70%;
c) A class participation mark worth 10% of the final mark; and
d) A class attendance requirement (at least 20 of the 26 classes; 5% penalty)
e) One online Pass/Fail quiz to familiarise students with the refugee definition and its application, to identify issues and relevant case law. The quizzes can be taken repeatedly until passed.
Failure to complete all except d) of the above compulsory forms of assessment will result in an NCN (Non Completed Fail) grade being recorded.

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


Three contact hours per week. Students are generally expected to devote at least 10 hours overall per week to this course.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must be studying a program which includes the Bachelor of Laws or Juris Doctor and completed LAWS2201/LAWS6201 Administrative Law and LAWS2250/LAWS6250 International Law.



Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2017 $3216
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2017 $4590
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
10106 23 Jul 2018 30 Jul 2018 31 Aug 2018 26 Oct 2018 In Person N/A

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