• Offered by ANU Law School
  • ANU College ANU College of Law
  • Classification Advanced
  • Course subject Laws
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Mode of delivery In Person

This course considers international labour law from its origins to the 21st century challenges of decent work, as promoted in Sustainable Development Goal 8. 

The world of work has changed and continues to evolve. Today commentators ask: what is the future of work? And given the imbalance of power among States, corporations, communities and individuals; the decline of unions; and the weakness of civil society organizations and marginalised groups, one might ask why bother with international labour law? In this course students will be encouraged to think about these issues and, having established a solid understanding of the international rules and principles governing labour and work, will be invited to reflect critically on both the thinking and practice bearing on international labour law, including its relevance and effectiveness.

The course will focus on the breadth of world-of-work issues, an understanding of the impact (strengths and weaknesses) of the international rules and principles that address these issues, and critical appraisal of real case examples where international labour law has improved the lives of working women and men, and contributed to improved social and economic outcomes. It will deliver knowledge and hone skills regarding the fundamental substantive areas (echoing but not duplicating existing ANU courses on, for example, maritime law, migration, indigenous rights, health/OSH and social security). It will address process issues including who can and how do States and organizations lodge complaints of violations of international labour law, the methods used in monist and dualist States, remedies available, and how to track the impact of international labour law from the practical point of view.

The course will cover:

a. Definition, scope, origins and objectives of international labour law;

b. Role of the ILO: mandate, tripartite composition, structures, standard-setting, regular supervisory system (Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations & Conference Committee on Labour Standards), complaints mechanisms (Committee on Freedom of Association; commissions of inquiry), successes (social protection, domestic workers’ rights) and shortcomings (the recent attacks on the right to strike, dismissal law & indigenous rights at work);

c. Relationship between ILO and UN treaty bodies (in particular the Committees on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), on the Rights of Child (CRC) and the CEDAW Committee as well as ECOSOC’s functional commissions (Statistical Commission and its work on indicators for decent work within the 230 SDG indicators, Commission on the Status of Women’s specific references to gender equality at work), and other multilateral institutions relevant to international labour law (World Trade Organization’s Ministerial Declarations on labour standards, G20 2015 Heads of State Outcome Document);

d. The four fundamental international labour standards (freedom of association-based on Conventions 87 & 98, non-discrimination-based on Conventions 100 & 111, forced labour-based on Conventions 29 and its Protocol & 105, child labour-Conventions 138 & 182) and related technical international labour law;

e. Interface between international labour law and social and economic development highlighting the role of international legal principles generally in the face of modern-day inequalities;

f. New areas of international labour law (including GBV at work, social protection reforms, labour rights of marginalised groups) and revamped mechanisms for implementing international labour law (possible UN treaty on business and human rights, including labour rights).

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Evaluate the origins of international labour law, its multiple facets, and how it affects the world of work both in theory and in practice;
  2. Reflect critically on the impact of international labour law across all regions of the world and on the role of the international organizations that deal with labour (in particular the ILO), including the effectiveness of the various strategies used to resolve workplace conflict/achieve social justice and contribute to social and economic development;
  3. Explain the legal standards of international labour law, and how they interact with the broader international legal framework;
  4. Undertake detailed analysis and deliver complex policy advice based on the fundamental rights and principles of international labour law, to government, think tanks and international organizations.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Four in-class multiple choice quizzes (40) [LO 1,2,3]
  2. Research-based take-home essay exam (60) [LO 1,2,3,4]

In response to COVID-19: Please note that Semester 2 Class Summary information (available under the classes tab) is as up to date as possible. Changes to Class Summaries not captured by this publication will be available to enrolled students via Wattle. 

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.


Classes offered in non-standard sessions will be taught on an intensive base with compulsory contact hours (approximately 26 hours of face to face teaching). The course will also require advanced preparation through assigned readings. In total, it is anticipated that the hours required for completion of this course (class preparation, teaching and completion of assessment) will not exceed 120 hours. Classes offered during semester periods are expected to have 3 contact hours per week.

Click here for the LLM Masters Program timetable.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must be studying a: Master of Laws (7300XLLM, MLLM), Master of Laws in Migration (NLLML), Master of Laws in International Law (NLLIL), Master of Laws in Environmental Law (NLLEN), Master of Laws in Law, Governance & Development (NLLGD), Master of Laws in International Security Law (NLLSL), Master of Laws in Government and Regulation (NLLGR), Master of Legal Practice (MLEGP) Master of International Law and Diplomacy (MINLD); OR Juris Doctor (7330XJD, 7330HJD or MJD), have completed or be completing five 1000 or 6100 level LAWS courses and have completed LAWS2250/LAWS6250 International Law; OR Graduate Certificate of Law (CLAW) and have completed or be completing LAWS8586 Law and Legal Institutions; OR Master of Military Law (MMILL). Students undertaking any ANU graduate program may apply for this course. Enrolments are accepted on a case-by-case basis. Please contact the ANU College of Law for permission number.

Prescribed Texts

Students must rely on the approved Class Summary which will be posted to the Programs and Courses site approximately 2 weeks prior to the commencement of the course.


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
2020 $4320
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $5760
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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There are no current offerings for this course.

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