• Class Number 4617
  • Term Code 3150
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery Online
    • Prof Jolyon Ford
    • Prof Jolyon Ford
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 06/09/2021
  • Class End Date 29/10/2021
  • Census Date 17/09/2021
  • Last Date to Enrol 06/09/2021
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.

Research-Led Teaching

This course relates directly to my core areas of research in the related fields of 'business and human rights' and 'business and peace'. It is a research-led course in the sense that these fields (and corporate responsibility generally) cover a very large landscape, so while we engage with broad themes, the course is inevitably highly selective in terms of topics. My research shapes the selection of those topics. The course is pitched at a certain level of abstraction: we are interested in debates and themes in this field, not the detail of doctrinal legal questions.

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.

One basic introductory work / primer is: Baumann-Pauly, D., and Nolan, J., (eds.) 'Business and Human Rights: from Principles to Practice' (Routledge, 2016), but you are certainly not expected to secure a copy, and the field has moved forward somewhat even since 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 and optional online 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

Task submission times refer to Canberra time (AEST/AEDT).

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

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 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 I: Context (History): regulation of business human rights impact; II: Principles: The 2011 UN Guiding Principles (UNGPs).
2 III: UNGP Pillar 1: State duties
3 IV: UNGP Pillar 2: Corporate responsibilities
4 V: UNGP Pillar 3: Remedy: (a) Transnational Litigation VI: UNGP Pillar 3: Remedy (b) The Treaty Debate
5 VII: Select Issue & Sector A: Issue: Conflict & Communities (Sector: Extractive Industries)
6 VIII: Select Issue & Sector B: Issue: Supply Chains & Labour (Sector: Garments; Foodstuffs) (Study of the Modern Slavery Act 2018)
7 IX: Select Issue and Sector C: Issue: Responsible Artificial Intelligence (Sector: New Tech); Exploring Australia's draft framework for ethical AI and the Human Rights Commission's 2019-2020 'Technology and Human Rights' project as an example of global and OECD trends
8 X: The Future of the BHR project in context (a) Reflections on regulatory pluralism / multi-level governance (b) Linking BHR to other issues (climate change, tax avoidance) Conclusion: the search for consensus and coherence in BHR

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Quiz 10 % 20/09/2021 * 1
Group work submission 10 % 04/10/2021 13/10/2021 1,2,3,4
Minor reflective 'blog' paper 10 % 18/10/2021 25/10/2021 1,2,3,4,5
Research Essay 50 % 15/11/2021 03/12/2021 1,2,3,4,5
Online discussion forum posts 20 % 01/11/2021 03/12/2021 1,2,3,4

* 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 Academic Integrity . In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

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 5 (discussion forum) is intended to ensure consistent engagement with and contribution to the course, while ensuring flexibility by not requiring students to be present at fixed times for synchronous ('live') class events. This is not demanding: it involves 1-2 given readings + a podcast or video lecture + 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 for each week.

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 5), and in order to be eligible for overall assessment in this course. Failure to post in the 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 5. For Task 5, 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, most 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 5.

In terms of interactive participation, in addition to various contact and feedback facilities explained on the Wattle page, 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 5.


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

(c) Online group-specific discussion forum (Task 2): This is the specific Wattle discussion forum for non-synchronous (not live) typed discussion group interaction as part of Task 2. Discussion in the forum is not itself assessed other than to allow the convenor to ensure individual group members have met a basic minimal threshold of contribution to the group's discussion.

(d) Online optional weekly Convenor meeting: This is an entirely optional fixed-time weekly drop-in live Zoom session (after hours; maximum 60 minutes; may be recorded) for access to the Convenor in person for discussion of the course substance and any other matters relating to the course. Participation is not assessed in any way.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 20/09/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1


Nature of Task: online quiz of 10 x 1-mark questions (multiple choice and True/False) in Week 2 of the course, with auto-generated feedback, intended as a formative assessment in relation to the introductory aspects of the course (Weeks 1).

Weighting: 10%

Word limit: n/a

Time limit: 20 minutes. The quiz may not be paused once commenced. he quiz can only be attempted once. More details will be available on the Wattle page 'Assessment' folder.

Release: 4pm, Friday 17 September 2021 via WATTLE.

Due date: 5pm, Monday 20 September 2021 via WATTLE. Due to the nature of the task, late submission or extension is not permitted.

Estimated return date: 20 September at/after 5pm (feedback automatically generated for incorrect answers, after the quiz is closed).

Assessment Task 2

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 04/10/2021
Return of Assessment: 13/10/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

Group work submission

Details of Task: Group exercise to discuss, via a special group online discussion forum, a controversial matter or debate in this field. The Convenor will allocate students randomly into groups. Using the dedicated discussion forum for each group, the group will attempt to reach consensus on an issue and submit a brief joint report indicating the (a) the outcome of the attempt at consensus, a brief rationale for the outcome, and the sub-group's brief response to up to five specific issues raised by the Convenor. Full explanation and guidance on Task 2, and a rubric of how performance of the task will be assessed, will be available on the course Wattle page 'Assessment' folder.

Nature of Task: Compulsory and non-redeemable. This task has a hurdle dimension for each group member individually. Failure by any individual student in the group to participate in a way that meets a threshold minimum level of meaningful and substantial engagement in the discussion forum for this task will result in a mark of 0 for this task for the individual group member. The individual group member will not be eligible for the mark out of 10 received by the group (without affecting the group marks available to other group members whose engagement in the forum is sufficient to meet the minimum requirement).

Weighting: 10%

Release: by 5pm, Monday 13 September 2021. Students will be randomly placed into groups by the Convenor prior to Monday 13 September 2021 and will be able to begin communicating and working with each other online via the dedicated discussion forum on Wattle.

Due date: 5pm Monday 4 October 2021 via Turnitin on the course Wattle site of the single document comprising the group's submission. (See below for online submission details). Late submissions (without an extension) are permitted, although late penalties apply.

Word limit: 800 words (minimum 400 words).

Estimated return date: Wednesday 13 October 2021 via Wattle.

Assessment Criteria: a rubric of how performance of the task will be assessed, will be available on the course Wattle page 'Assessment' folder

Assessment Task 3

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 18/10/2021
Return of Assessment: 25/10/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Minor reflective 'blog' paper

Nature of Task: Unreferenced, relatively informal and short ‘blog style’ critical reflection on a topic and/or reading of the student's choice from within the course. This is intended to help students to begin to identify an essay question of interest to them and to begin to draw out a line of argument with a view to further developing that argument in the Major Paper. (Students may elect to do their Major Paper on a topic different to that covered in this 'blog' task).

Weighting: 10%

Word limit: maximum 800 words, no bibliography and only basic references required.

Due date: 5pm, Monday 18 October 2021. Late submissions (without an extension) are permitted, but late penalties will apply.  .

Estimated return date: 1 November 2021.

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 4

Value: 50 %
Due Date: 15/11/2021
Return of Assessment: 03/12/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Research Essay

Nature of Task: original independent critical research essay, on a topic or question within the scope of the course, produced to a Masters-level standard.

Weighting: 50%

Word limit: 3200 words

Release: Student choice (within the scope of the course). Students should ideally seek lecturer’s approval by 18 October 2021. A list of topics will be made available for choice for those students who prefer a given question. Students may wish to develop the topic selected for their Minor Paper (Task 3).

Due date: 5pm, Monday 15 November 2021. Late submissions (without an extension) are permitted, but late penalties will apply

Estimated return date: Friday 3 December 2021.

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 5

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 01/11/2021
Return of Assessment: 03/12/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

Online discussion forum posts

Nature of Task: regular online discussion posts over the 8 weeks of the course.The discussion forum operates from Week 1 of the course but posting into the forum is only required from week 2. Students must contribute a written discussion forum post every week beginning from Week 2. 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 2 onwards, students must contribute a discussion forum post in for the subsequent seven weeks of the course in order to complete the course. 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 8 weeks of the course. Ahead of the Task 5 submission date (1 November), students then select their best 4 posts from across their weekly contributions and copy these into a template document (to be provided) for submission.

Weighting: 20%

Word limit: Max 250 word posts each week.The total word limit of the 'compilation of posts' submitted on 19 October is 1,250 words (4 x 250-word posts).

Due date: 5pm, Monday 1 November 2021 for a student's compilation of his/her best 4 posts from at least 7 posted during relevant weeks of the course. The due date for the posts themselves is midnight on the Sunday of each week (that is, one may not post retrospectively into previous weeks). Due to the nature of the task late submission will not be accepted.

Estimated return date: n/a. The convenor will offer feedback on posts as part of his engagement, week to week, in the discussion forum.

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 show 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 of 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 the ANU culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically, committing to honest and responsible scholarly practice and upholding these values with respect and fairness.

The ANU commits to assisting all members of our community to 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 be familiar with the academic integrity principle and Academic Misconduct Rule, 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 Academic Misconduct Rule is in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Very minor breaches of the academic integrity principle may result in a reduction of marks of up to 10% of the total marks available for the assessment. The ANU offers a number of online and in person services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. Visit the Academic Skills website for more information about academic integrity, your responsibilities and for assistance with your assignments, writing skills and study.

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

Individual assessment tasks may or may not allow for late submission. Policy regarding late submission is detailed below:

  • Late submission not permitted. If submission of assessment tasks without an extension after the due date is not permitted, a mark of 0 will be awarded.
  • Late submission permitted. 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, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item.
  • Late submission is not accepted for test or examinations.
  • Late submission with an extension. To ensure equity for all students, the 5% penalty per working day for late submission of work does not apply if you have been given an extension. Where an extension is granted, the revised due date and submission time is provided in writing. Please note that the revised due date is calculated by including weekends and public holidays. Regardless of which day of the week the revised due date falls on, students who submit after that date are penalised by 5% of the possible marks available for the assessment task per day or part thereof.

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. Extensions may be granted 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).

Prof Jolyon Ford
6125 4164

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; emerging regulatory frameworks on the human rights responsibilities of business enterprises; and the regulation of responsible AI and other technologies

Prof Jolyon Ford

By Appointment
By Appointment
Prof Jolyon Ford

Research Interests

Prof Jolyon Ford

By Appointment
By Appointment

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