• Class Number 6711
  • Term Code 2950
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery Online
    • Dr Jolyon Ford
    • Dr Jolyon Ford
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 27/07/2019
  • Class End Date 05/10/2019
  • Census Date 16/08/2019
  • Last Date to Enrol 09/08/2019
SELT Survey Results

This course aims to provide an advanced understanding of how law and regulation relate to current debates about corporate responsibility and business respect for human rights standards. What would constitute an ideal regulatory and remedial framework on the human rights impacts of business activity? What commercial, political or social forces and factors shape these issues in practice?

Delivered online, this course analyses the source, nature, content and practical significance of legal, regulatory, self-regulatory and other frameworks governing the ways in which business actors and activities might affect human rights. Framed by an understanding of the position in public international law, the course turns mainly on the significance of the 2011 UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, while addressing the range of regulatory options.

From law suits for alleged corporate complicity in apartheid and other grave crimes, to examples of voluntary business leadership on addressing human trafficking, this course combines a commitment to objectivity and conceptual clarity with an emphasis on robust and informed student exchange. Approaching from a legal and regulatory perspective, the course addresses complex, controversial issues such as allegations of rights abuse in global food or manufacturing supply-chains; how global telecoms companies manage customer service in repressive states; and extractive industry stakeholder relations in conflict-affected regions. Through practical case studies students will be exploring the nexus of two of the most profound social and regulatory phenomena of our time: economic globalisation, and the international human rights narrative.

The course is of relevance to policymakers, regulators, corporate and financial executives, those in civil society, the media, and the legal profession. Any contemporary study of international relations or international law is incomplete without going beyond states to consider the influence of transnational business and investment actors. Likewise, the private sector operates in a public world so that business scholars must factor in the increasing salience of corporate responsibility and accountability issues. Meanwhile, governmental actors are not the only source of human rights promotion: what positive role exists for the private sector?
The course emphasises transnational commercial networks and regulatory responses, but makes some reference to Australian scenarios. Through moderated discussions and with occasional guest expert input, students navigate some key issues. How can business activity affect the enjoyment of human rights? How effective are existing regulatory responses, and what undermines these? What is the role for business self-regulation, and what is the state’s duty to control the social impacts of a business operating abroad? What avenues of remedy exist or could or should exist? Should we pursue a binding treaty in this field, how likely is this, and what would it include? What particular responsibilities accompany investment decisions in repressive or conflict-affected states?

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Explain, distinguish and apply, to an advanced standard, the terms, theories and concepts, global frameworks and major recent debates in the field of business and human rights;
  2. Explore, analyse and synthesise complex theoretical positions and propositions at an abstract level using cognitive, technical and creative skills, and apply these to practical, ‘real-world’ scenarios, in contexts relating to business and human rights;
  3. Identify and apply relevant research, problem-solving and argumentation skills appropriate to addressing controversies and complexities arising in the field of business and human rights, including through participation in moderated group discussion forums and completion of succinct and accurate written work.
  4. Communicate theoretical and practical knowledge about how course concepts relate to their other professional or academic work, and show an advanced ability to reflect critically on this process;
  5. Demonstrate an advanced ability to independently plan and produce a substantial research project in the field of business and human rights, analysing and critiquing issues covered in the course.

Additional Course Costs

None. Students will need normal internet access resources for this online course.

Required Resources

The required reading for this course overall is the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (2011):


A copy of this PDF is on the course Wattle page in the Orientation section, and Week 1.

There are no other required general readings, but each week has 1-2 required readings per week's topic, listed in the Wattle page for each week.

A basic introductory work / primer is: Baumann-Pauly, D., and Nolan, J., (eds.) 'Business and Human Rights: from Principles to Practice' (Routledge, 2016)

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • Feedback through interaction with students in the weekly discussion forums
  • Group feedback through the Convenor's Forum
  • Some individual feedback around essay topic selection and framing
  • Individual feedback on submitted assessments

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Other Information

Extensions late submission and penalties - https://law.anu.edu.au/current-students/policies-procedures/extensions-late-submission-and-penalties

Deferred examination: http://www.anu.edu.au/students/program-administration/assessments-exams/deferred-examinations

Special consideration: http://www.anu.edu.au/students/program-administration/assessments-exams/special-assessment-consideration

Penalties for excess word length: https://law.anu.edu.au/current-students/policies-procedures/word-length-and-excess-word-penalties

Distribution of Grades Policy: Effective from Winter Session and Second Semester 2018 (and until further notice), the interim scaling guideline applies to all courses in the LLB (Hons) and JD programs. Please see: https://law.anu.edu.au/current-students/policies-procedures/grading

Further Information about the Course: is available from the course WATTLE page. Students are required to access the WATTLE site regularly throughout the course for details on weekly classes and any announcements relating to the course.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 I: Context (Problem): the global ‘governance gap’ I: Context (Themes): issues, actors, institutions, terms n/a
2 I: Context (History): regulation of business human rights impact II: Principles: Ruggie mandate and 2011 UN Guiding Principles UNGPs
3 III: UNGP Pillar 1: State duties
4 IV: UNGP Pillar 2: Corporate responsibilities
5 V: UNGP Pillar 3: Remedy: (a) Transnational Litigation
6 VI: UNGP Pillar 3: Remedy (b) The Treaty Debate
7 VII: Select Issue & Sector A: Issue: Conflict & Communities (Sector: Extractive Industries)
8 VII: Select Issue & Sector B: Issue: Supply Chains & Labour (Sector: Garments and Foodstuffs) (Study of the Modern Slavery Act 2018)
9 VIII: Select Issue and Sector C: Issue: Bias and other problems with AI (Sector: New Technology) Consideration of Australia's draft framework for ethical AI
10 IX(a) Bus & Human Rights in context: consumer ethics to popular culture IX (b) Linking Bus & HR: climate change, tax avoidance, migration? X: Conclusion: the search for consensus and coherence in BHR

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Minor reflective paper 10 % 16/09/2019 30/09/2019 1,2,3,4,5
Research Essay 70 % 04/11/2019 28/11/2019 1,2,3,4,5
Online forum posts 20 % 07/10/2019 01/11/2019 1,2,3,4,5

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using 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. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website. Students may choose not to submit assessment items through Turnitin. In this instance you will be required to submit, alongside the assessment item itself, hard copies of all references included in the assessment item.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


This is an entirely (100%) online course. Assessment Task 3 is intended to ensure consistent engagement with and contribution to the course. This is not demanding: it involves 1-2 given readings + a podcast + introductory notes per week, in relation to which students put up a discussion forum post of just 200-250 words (min/max) showing one has engaged with and reflected on the issues raised in the materials.

So there is no assessment item related to participation as such, but one must post regularly (in effect, weekly) into typed online discussion forums as part of one of the assessments (Task 3), and in order to be eligible for overall assessment in this course. That is, failure to post in at least 6 weekly discussion forums during the week to which the post / topic relates will result in a mark of 0 out of 20 for assessment Task 3. For Task 3, the students at the end of the course select their best 4 posts and submit these to Turnitin in a single document, on a template to be provided.


In terms of time expectations and commitments, the equivalent full-time student time load for this course is about 10 hours a week. However, very little of this is in direct or group contact time. Almost all of this will be directed to reading, listening to pre-recorded material, and preparing / completing assessment items. This includes time required to be set aside to follow discussion threads on each topic so as to contribute meaningfully to these discussions, pursuant to Assessment Task 3.

In terms of interactive participation, in addition to various contact and feedback facilities, the course features two main communication platforms:


(a) Online required discussion forum (written inputs): These are week-specific discussion forum threads for written online ‘posted’ discussion in relation to each week’s topic. The Convenor will normally initiate each week's discussion thread/s. See Assessment Task 3.


(b) Online general discussion forum ('Convenor's Forum'): This is a regular, non-assessment platform for substantive ongoing thematic written comments and inputs by the Convenor and by participants. It has no assessment relevance at all.

NOTE: the site has facility for live interactive discussion. So as not to overload students, there may be a maximum of two such sessions during the ten weeks of the course, of no more than 45 minutes. All/any video chat forums will be recorded. Participation is not assessed in any way.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 16/09/2019
Return of Assessment: 30/09/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Minor reflective paper

Nature of Task: Unreferenced, relatively informal and short ‘blog style’ critical reflection.

Weighting: 10%

Word limit: maximum 600 words, no bibliography and only basic references required.


Due date: 16 September 2019 at 17h00 (5pm)

Estimated return date: 30 September 2019

Assessment Criteria:

This course adapts the generic ANU College of Law LLM-level criteria:

a)      Understanding of the Issues

·        addresses a chosen question and outlines relevant and important points;

·        shows evidence of consideration of the course materials drawn upon;

·        clearly and concisely identifies the chosen issue focused upon;

·        engages in analysis not just summary or quotation of issues. 

b)      Communication & Development of Argument

shows a clear theme or argument;

argument(s) logical and well-organised;

ideas/paragraphs linked coherently;

optionally, identifies a viable topic for proposed deeper study in Task 2 (research essay). 

c)        Argument/Analysis

·        originality of ideas and analysis of the chosen material;

·        suggestions for change where appropriate (within space constraints).

·        consideration of opposing arguments (within space constraints).

·        well-reasoned provisional conclusions or hypotheses ahead of Task 1 essay. 

d)        Research

·        this short critical blog-style essay is not a research task as such, but must show evidence of close engagement with and critical reflection upon a chosen topic within the scope of the course.

 e)        Presentation, style and referencing

·        stylistic and structural issues are less significant for this short essay format, but the assignment should display clarity and conciseness of expression, be interesting and engaging of reader, and reveal the writer’s own informed views and arguments clearly (as distinct from those of authors in the literature);

·        although relatively informal (‘blog-like’) in style, the essay should make use of appropriate terminology and contain correct grammar, syntax and spelling;

·        full and accurate footnotes and citation are not significant in this assignment, which is a structured preliminary task to help refine topic choice for Task 2.

·        adherence to word limit 

Assessment Task 2

Value: 70 %
Due Date: 04/11/2019
Return of Assessment: 28/11/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Research Essay

Nature of Task: original critical research essay produced to a Master’s standard.

Weighting: 70%

Word limit: 4000 words

Release: Student choice (within the scope of the course) Seek lecturer’s approval by 30 Sept 2019, ideally. A list of topics will be made available for choice.

Due date: 4 November 2019 at 2359 (11:59pm).

Estimated return date: 28 November 2019.

Assessment Criteria:

This course adopts the generic ANU College of Law LLM-level criteria: 

a)      Understanding of the Issues

·        addresses the question and covers the salient, relevant and important points;

·        evidence of close consideration of the question and the research materials drawn on;

·        issues raised by the topic are clearly and concisely identified;

·        material chosen relates clearly to the topic and is analysed not just summarised or quoted extensively;

b)        Communication and Development of Argument

. shows a clear theme or argument;

. argument(s) logical and well-organised;

. ideas/paragraphs linked coherently; 

c)        Argument/Analysis

·        originality of ideas and critical analysis of the material;

·        complexity and insight in dealing with theory/ideas;

·        suggestions for change where appropriate;

·        interdisciplinary perspective where appropriate;

·        addressing opposing arguments;

·        well-reasoned conclusions;

d)        Research

·        research covering primary and secondary materials;

·        good organisation of sources and ability to synthesise all the research materials used;

·        use of theoretical material where appropriate;

·        range of research sources;

·        integration of material from research resources into the essay. 

e)        Presentation, style and referencing

·        good use of structure, section headings and paragraphs;

·        clarity and conciseness of expression, interesting and engaging of reader;

·        use of appropriate terminology and correct grammar, syntax and spelling;

·        full and accurate footnotes together with a bibliography;

·        style according to Australian Guide to Legal Citation where appropriate;

·        adherence to word limit.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 07/10/2019
Return of Assessment: 01/11/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Online forum posts

Nature of Task: regular online discussion posts over 8 weeks of the course (week 3 to 10).

Weighting: 20%

Word limit: min. 800 words (4 x 200-word posts); max. 1,250 words.

Release: n/a: students must contribute a written discussion forum post in at least six (6) of the final eight (8) weeks of the course, beginning in Week 3. Ahead of the Task submission date (7 October), students then select their best 4 posts and copy these into a template document (to be provided) for submission. Students must post in a forum during the week to which that forum relates (i.e. one may not do all one's posts at the end of the course, for example). This is to ensure consistent engagement with the course. To be clear, from Week 3 onwards, students must contribute a discussion forum post in at least 6 of the remaining 8 weeks of the course in order to complete LAWS8254 overall. Failure to do so (and to submit the self-selected best 4 posts from these) will mean that you will receive a mark of 0 out of 20 for this task. Students are encouraged to begin posting from Week 1, and their final 4 submitted posts can include posts from any of the 10 weeks of the course.

Due date: 7 October 2019 at 17h00 (5pm) for a student's compilation of his/her best 4 posts from at least 6 posted during relevant weeks of the course. The due date for the posts themselves is midnight on Sunday of each week (that is, one may not post retrospectively into previous weeks).

Estimated return date: 1 November 2019

Assessment Criteria:

This course adapts the generic ANU College of Law LLM-level criteria for online contributions, conscious that discussion posts have space and style constraints:

a)    Preparation and understanding of the material

·        written discussion posts should show evidence of pre-reading and/or listening to pre-assigned materials in advance of posting to the discussion forums;

·        assessor will seek evidence in written posts of an ability to draw links and chains between parts of the course, and overall course themes from week 1. 

b)   Thinking critically about the material

·        posts showing an attempt to examine topic from different angles and anticipate contrary positions;

·        posts acknowledge and/or question assumptions;

·        use of language in posts revealing critical engagement with the course material, the topic, and other discussion post contributions.

c)   Expressing ideas clearly

accounting for space and style limitations in discussion threads, the posts should express the writer’s views and insights clearly. 

d)   Engaging with other students in the discussion thread

·        showing responsiveness to other discussion threads where these relate to one’s own points or views;

·        being respectful for a range of views and opinions.

e)   Keeping to word limit 

f)    If relevant / possible, linking material with your own background and knowledge

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with. The University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

Please submit online assessments in this course.

Late Submission

Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date without an extension granted by the Convenor within ANU Law's policies.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. The Course Convener may grant extensions for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Dr Jolyon Ford

Research Interests

My research is typically cross-disciplinary, grounded in law and regulatory theory, with a strong public policy orientation. I am mainly interested in ways to influence the social and governance impact of business and investment activity in fragile, post-conflict and transitional settings; the private sector’s role in conflict resolution and peacebuilding; and emerging regulatory frameworks on the human rights responsibilities of business enterprises.

Dr Jolyon Ford

By Appointment
Dr Jolyon Ford

Research Interests

Dr Jolyon Ford

By Appointment

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