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

In an increasingly globalized world international lawyers are called upon to address contemporary global challenges, to represent and advise governments across a diverse field of subject areas and to contribute to the codification and progressive development of International law. Who then are these international lawyers, how do they provide their advice and what sorts of ethical issues arise from their doing so?

This course examines the practice of international law in the Australian Government. Attention is provided to the government structures through which advice is provided and how advice is generated. The course includes a focus on the practice of international negotiation, the conduct of international litigation and the process through which the Australian Parliament considers treaties.

The course will also examine broader issues such as the role of the legal adviser to government and ethical issues involved in the provision of legal advice to government.

The course is taught by two highly experienced government practitioners, with more than 50 years of practical experience between them. Lectures are supplemented by guest presentations by other senior public servants.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Demonstrate a practical understanding of how international legal advice is provided to the Australian Government;
  2. Debate how best to structure the provision of international legal advice to the Australian Government;
  3. Apply their understanding of how to negotiate and draft an international treaty through a simulated negotiation exercise;
  4. Debate what sort of process for scrutinising and approving treaties would best serve the Australian people;
  5. Debate whether the current attribution of immunities to diplomats is warranted;
  6. Outline what important steps are involved in international litigation;
  7. Debate the ethical issues arising in the provision of international legal advice;
  8. Hypothesise about how international law will likely be applied to international legal problems in the future; and
  9. Plan and execute legal research with independence in order to produce original scholarship.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Class contributions (10) [LO null]
  2. Negotiation exercise (45) [LO null]
  3. Research Paper (3,000 words) (45) [LO null]

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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 three contact hours per week.

Click here for the LLM Masters Program course list

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must be studying a; Master of Laws (MLLM) and have completed or be completing LAWS8586 Law and Legal Institutions and LAWS8182 Principles of International Law; or Graduate Certificate of Law (CLAW) and have completed or be completing LAWS8586 Law and Legal Institutions and LAWS8182 Principles of International Law; or Juris Doctor (MJD) and have completed or be completing five 1000 or 6100 level LAWS courses and have completed LAWS2250 /LAWS6250 International Law ; or Master of International Law & Diplomacy (MINLD) and have completed or be completing LAWS8586 Law and Legal Institutions and LAWS8182 Principles of International Law. 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 appropriate permission.

Prescribed Texts

Students must rely on the approved Class Summary which will be posted to the Programs and Courses site approximately two weeks prior to the commencement of the course. Alternatively, this information will be published in the Program course list when known.

Preliminary Reading

Students will be expected to have read the following articles:

•   Daniel Bethlehem, ‘The Secret Life of International Law’ 1(1) Cambridge Journal of International and Comparative Law (2012), 23-36.

•   Harold Koh and Aaron Zelinsky, ‘Practicing International Law in the Obama Administration’ 35(4) Yale Journal of International Law (2009), 4-13.

•   Harold Koh ‘The Legal Adviser’s Duty to Explain’ (41(1) Yale Journal of International Law (2016) 198-211.

Assumed Knowledge

Participants must have completed Principles of International Law (LAWS8182) or equivalent.


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

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you 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). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
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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