• Offered by ANU Law School and the School of Regulation and Global Governance
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific / ANU College of Law
  • Classification Advanced
  • Course subject Laws
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Mode of delivery In Person

International investment treaties represent an important and fast-moving area of the law and policy that is growing in significance in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. More than 3500 investment treaty agreements now exist worldwide in the form of bilateral investment treaties and free trade agreements with investor-state arbitration provisions. Investment treaty obligations have been included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) and form part of the draft texts being negotiated for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). 

Investment treaties are typically justified as providing a way for states to credibly commit to providing international rule of law protections in order to encourage foreign investment at reasonable rates of return. These treaties typically permit foreign investors to bring arbitral claims directly against states if they believe that they have been discriminated against, treated unfairly or inequitably or had their property expropriated without adequate compensation. Since the late 1990s, thousands of investor-state arbitrations have been filed and hundreds of investor-state awards have been issued. 

However, investor-state claims are often controversial. Some of these claims involve sensitive issues of public policy, such as Australia’s Tobacco Plain Packaging Act. Some states have been deluged by claims, such as Argentina, which has faced more than 50 claims since its 2001 economic crisis. Civil society has also objected to these treaties often being negotiated without public consultation and to investor-state arbitrations often being heard by private, ad hoc arbitral tribunals rather than public courts. 

States have reacted to some of these concerns by redrafting investment treaty obligations in certain ways. 

This course introduces students to the main legal principles and policy controversies surrounding the investment treaty system. It looks at a variety of questions about when arbitral tribunals will have jurisdiction, what substantive protections are given to investors (e.g., direct and indirect expropriation, fair and equitable treatment and national treatment), and what defences are available to states (e.g., necessity). It examines different ways of understanding the system (e.g., as a sub-field of public international law, international commercial arbitration, or public law) as well as some of the critiques that have been raised about the system (e.g., secrecy, inconsistency and actual or perceived bias by arbitrators).            

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Demonstrate advanced knowledge of the legal and policy debates in the investment treaty field, including current and proposed reforms;
  2. Critically analyse the advantages and disadvantages of investor-state dispute settlement;
  3. Research key issues and challenges in investment treaty policy with respect to a particular issue, country or region of the world;
  4. Critically appraise and persuasively communicate ideas in writing about investment treaty policy with respect to a particular issue, country or region of the world

Indicative Assessment

  1. Class participation (10) [LO 1,2,3]
  2. Research essay (90) [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. 

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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) and have completed or be completing five 1000 or 6100 level LAWS courses; 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

C McLachlan QC, L Shore, and M Weiniger, International Investment Arbitration: Substantive Principles, Second Edition (Oxford, 2017)


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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