LAW 2560 - Refugee Law and Policy

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2019

Refugee Law and Policy considers the Australian and international law relating to the protection of refugees and other people in need of Australia's protection. Topics include: 1. The international law on refugees and their movement 2. Consideration of the definition of a refugee in the Refugee Convention and how this definition has been interpreted by the Australian courts; 3. Analysis of Australia?s off shore refugee policy 4. Analysis of Australia?s onshore asylum seeker policy 5. The law and policy surrounding the Australian system of offshore detention and processing. 5. Refugee settlement in Australia 6. Comparisons with refugee law and policy in other jurisdictions

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code LAW 2560
    Course Refugee Law and Policy
    Coordinating Unit Adelaide Law School
    Term Semester 2
    Level Undergraduate Law (LLB)
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 3 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites LAW 1504
    Incompatible LAW 3515
    Course Description Refugee Law and Policy considers the Australian and international law relating to the protection of refugees and other people in need of Australia's protection. Topics include:
    1. The international law on refugees and their movement
    2. Consideration of the definition of a refugee in the Refugee Convention and how this definition has been interpreted by the Australian courts;
    3. Analysis of Australia?s off shore refugee policy
    4. Analysis of Australia?s onshore asylum seeker policy
    5. The law and policy surrounding the Australian system of offshore detention and processing.
    5. Refugee settlement in Australia
    6. Comparisons with refugee law and policy in other jurisdictions
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Professor Alex Reilly

    Room 3.20 Ligertwood Building
    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    On successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

    1. Discuss and critique the phenomenon of international migration, the role of nation-states in regulating the movement of people, and the ethics of migration control.

    2. Research and present findings on issues in Australian refugee law and policy, including the relationship between international and domestic obligations to offer asylum seekers protection; the determination of who is a refugee, and international responses to refugees movements around the world.

    3. Prepare, research and write an effective research proposal and a research essay, in answer to a complex issue in refugee law and policy.

    4. Apply high level critical and analytical skills in presentations and written work.

    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • Able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    All required resources for the course will be available via the Refugee Law and Policy MyUni website. 
    Recommended Resources
    Jane McAdam and Fiona Chong, Refugees : why seeking asylum is legal and Australia's policies are not (2014)

    Mary Crock and Laurie Berg, Immigration, Refugees and Forced Migration: Law, Policy and Practice in Australia (2011)

    Cathryn Costello, The human rights of migrants and refugees in European law (1st ed. 2016)

    Jane McAdam, Climate change, forced migration, and international law (2012)

    Goodwin-Gill and McAdam, The Refugee in International Law (3rd ed, 2007)

    Vrachnas et al, Migration and Refugee law (3rd ed) (2012)

    Opeskin, Perruchoud and Redpath-Cross (eds), Foundations of International Migration Law (2012)
    Online Learning
    The MyUni website is crucial to the course. It will be used to provide information and structure the learning activities in the course via the course map.

    MyUni will be used to post announcements, post additional materials (including lecture slides and audio recordings of lectures) and announce assignment tasks. It will also contain electronic copies of the Course Profile, Lecture and Seminar Guides, and Course Materials.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    There will be a two hour interactive lecture each week, and a one hour  seminar. The lecture and seminar will combine presentation of material by the course coordinator, seminar style discussion, and student presentations. Students will be assessed for contribution during seminars.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    In addition to attending formal classes it is anticipated that students will do substantial independent work to prepare for classes and to complete the course assignments. The University expects full time students (those undertaking 12 units per semester) to devote a total of 48 hours per week to their studies.
    Learning Activities Summary
    Details of readings and questions for each topic will be outlined in the Course Map. The Course Map will be available in late June.

    Week Topic
    Week 1
    29 July
    A. Introduction to course
    B. Ethics of Border Control
    Week 2
    5 Aug
    A. International Migration
    B. Forced Migration and Displaced Persons
    C. Asylum and State Responsibility
    Week 3
    12 Aug
    A. The Refugee Convention: History and Operation
    - Non-refoulement
    - Who is a refugee?
    Week 4
    19 Aug
    1. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) 
    2. Environmental refugees
    Week 5
    26 Aug
    Asylum Issues in the Asia Pacific Region
    Week 6
    2 Sept
    Australia’s refugee law and policy 2001 - 2007
    Week 7
    9 Sept
    Australia’s refugee law and policy 2007 - present
    Week 8
    16 Sept
    Achieving refugee status in Australian Law
    'well founded fear'
    Mid-Semester Break
    Week 9
    7 Oct
    A. Achieving Refugee Status under Australian Law- the Convention grounds
    B. Complementary Protection
    Week 10
    14 Oct
    Applying for protection visas
    Week 11
    21 Oct
    Settlement issues for refugees and asylum seekers
    Week 12
    28 Oct
    The contribution of refugees in the community
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task Task Type Due Weighting Length Redeemable? Learning Outcome
    Participation Individual Week 2 - 12 10% No 1
    Group Presentation
    Group Week 2-8
    20% 15 minutes 
    (10 minutes discussion)
    No 1,4
    Research essay proposal Individual 4 September 2019 10% 500 words + bibliography No 1,2,3,4
    Reflection on research essay presentation
    Weeks 9 - 12 10% 500 words + peer review No 1,2,4
    Research essay
    13 November 2019 50% 3000 words No 1,2,3,4
    Assessment Detail
    Class Participation (10%)

    TThe class participation mark is based on contribution during seminar and lecture classes across the semester.
    Class participation marks will be based on participation in a student's 10 best lecture and seminar classes.
    Participation includes contribution comments and questions in class and active participation in group activities.

    2. Group Presentation (20%)

    Presentations will be marked against the following criteria:
    1. Organisation and intrinsic interest of the presentation
    2. Ability of group members to work collaboratively
    3. Level of understanding of the topic as demonstrated through the quality of their observations and comments
    4. Use of external sources and the set readings
    5. Understanding of how the presentation topic fits into the course as a whole
    6. Ability of the group to engage the class in discussion of the topic through well targeted questions.

    3. Research essay proposal (10%)

    The research essay proposal is the basis for the research essay. It must include a specific research question; a synopsis of the core argument of the paper and a preliminary list of research resources. The synopsis itself must be between 250 and 500 words in length (1-2 pages).

    You can choose one of the research essay questions listed on MyUni, or you can develop a question of your own. If developing your own
    question, you must discuss it with me and have it approved as an essay question.

    Research essay proposals will be expected to engage with relevant course readings as well as drawing on additional readings. You will be expected to engage directly with a minimum of 5 journal articles that directly address your essay question.

    You are encouraged to discuss your research proposal with me prior to submission. As well as assessing your proposals, I will provide direction on how the proposals could be amended for the purpose of completing the research essay

    4. Research essay presentation, peer review and reflection (10%)

    Part of the seminar time in weeks 9-12 will be taken up with research essay presentations. You will be divided into groups. Each week two
    students from each group will present their essay proposals to their peers. There will be 10 to 12 minutes for each presentation and peer
    feedback. As well as providing verbal feedback on the essay proposal,peers will mark the presentation against a set of criteria. The mark
    will reflect the peer assessor's view of the quality of the presentation. Within one week of your presentation, you will be required to submit a 500 word reflection on your presentation and the feedback you received from your peers. The course coordinator will mark this reflection, taking into account the peer assessments. 

    5. Research Paper (50%)

    For the 3000 word essay, students will undertake independent research that follows on from their research proposal and presentation. You are encouraged to discuss with me any ideas or concerns you have about your essay.


    The in class test, Research Proposal, Presentation Reflections and Research Essay will all be submitted via the assignments link on  MyUni website. Assignments do not have to be handed up in hard copy.


    Extensions beyond the due date will only be granted in the case of serious and unforeseen incapacity. Extensions will be granted only for unexpected illness, hardship or on compassionate grounds in accordance with University Policy. Work commitments, travel, holidays or sporting engagements are NOT unexpected circumstances. If you require an extension, you will need to use the on-line application form available on the law school website ( ) as soon as you are aware of the need for an extension, and before the due date of the assignment.

    The course coordinator or an extensions officer will reply by email, determining whether an extension is warranted, what evidence is required to verify the student’s incapacity, and the length of the extension. Evidence of the incapacity must be submitted with the assignment, and must be consistent with details in the email requesting the extension. If the details of the request for an extension, and the medical or other evidence verifying the extension are not consistent in all respects, the extension is nullified, and the assignment may be penalised.

    1. Late Submission: 5% of the total mark possible will be deducted for every 24 hours or part thereof that submission is late, including each day on a weekend. For example, an essay that is submitted after the due date and time but within the first 24 hour period, and that has been graded at 63%, will have 5% deducted, for a final grade of 58%. An assignment that is more than 24 hours late will lose 10%, etc.
    2. Word Length: Assignments which exceed the allocated length (word length) will be subject to a penalty of 5% of total marks possible per 100 words or part thereof (ie with a word limit of 1,000, an essay graded 63% will have 5% deducted if it is 1,001 words long, for a final grade of 58%, 10% if it is 1,101 words long, etc). Words are calculated including all footnotes and headings within the text but excluding cover page information. Quotations and all referencing information are included in the word count.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

    Feedback from students on the 2012 course Migration Law and Policy has been taken into account in modifying the assessment scheme for the Refugee law and Policy course. In that course, there were three written assignments all worth 30%, which assessed only the course material. The feedback from many students was that they would have preferred a longer assignment with a research component. In the Refugee law and Policy course, the final assignment responds to this feedback.
  • Student Support
    The University Writing Centre provides academic learning and language development services and resources for local, international, undergraduate and postgraduate coursework students enrolled at the University of Adelaide.

    Practical advice and strategies for students to master reading, writing, note-taking, time management, oral presentation skills, referencing techniques and exam preparation for success at university through seminars, workshops and individual consultations.

    For more information please check out the Writing Centre website at  

    Lex Salus Program

    Lex Salus was founded in 2013 by Adelaide Law School Wellbeing officers Ms Corinne Walding, Ms Kellie Toole and Dr Mark Giancaspro. Lex Salus is an initiative of the Adelaide Law School aimed at raising law student awareness of the importance of mental, physical and nutritional health across all year levels of the degree, and of the various counselling, disability and equity services both within and outside the University that can provide help. Research shows that law students, both in Australia and in many jurisdictions around the world, experience the highest levels of stress, anxiety and depression out of any other discipline. Many do not get enough sleep, maintain a healthy diet or achieve a realistic work/life balance. Making matters worse, they are unwilling or afraid to speak up for fear of feeling 'weak' or because of the negative stigma that attaches to seeking help. Lex Salus is dedicated to tackling these problems head-on.

    Counselling Service

    The University Counselling Service provides a free and confidential service to all enrolled students. We encourage you to contact the Counselling service on 8313 5663 to make an appointment to deal with any issues that may be affecting your study and life. More information is available at
  • Policies & Guidelines

    This section contains links to relevant assessment-related policies and guidelines - all university policies.

    Further information regarding the Law School Policies and Procedures in relation to Supplementary Assessment, Extensions, and Remarks etc can be found at:

    Plagiarism and other forms of cheating

    Plagiarism is a serious act of academic misconduct. All students must be familiar with the Adelaide Law School Enrolment Guide, and should note in particular the sections relating to plagiarism, grievance procedures and academic conduct within the Law School and the University.

    Plagiarism is a serious matter and is treated as such by the Law School and the University. Please be aware that “academic dishonesty” (which goes beyond plagiarism) can be a ground for a refusal by the Supreme Court of South Australia to refuse to admit a person to practice as a legal practitioner in South Australia.

    Academic honesty is an essential aspect of ethical and honest behaviour, which is central to the practice of the law and an understanding of what it is to be a lawyer.
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

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