LAW 2560 - Refugee Law and Policy

North Terrace Campus - Summer - 2016

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. Australian protection visas - the criteria and the application process; 4. The law and policy surrounding the Australian system of mandatory detention of people making onshore applications for asylum. 5. International agreements on the detention and processing of refugees 6. Comparisons with the law and policy relating to refugees in other jurisdictions

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code LAW 2560
    Course Refugee Law and Policy
    Coordinating Unit Adelaide Law School
    Term Summer
    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 1501, LAW 1502, LAW 1503, 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. Australian protection visas - the criteria and the application process;
    4. The law and policy surrounding the Australian system of mandatory detention of people making onshore applications for asylum.
    5. International agreements on the detention and processing of refugees
    6. Comparisons with the law and policy relating to refugees 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 analyse the phenomenon of migration, and the role the nation-state and the concept of citizenship plays in controlling the movement of people.

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

    3. Prepare, research, structure and write an effective 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
    Students are required to have a copy of the Course Guide which contains links to all materials required for the course. The Course Guide is available as a free resource from the Image and Copy Centre and is also available for download on the Course information link on the Refugee Law and Policy MyUni website.

    The Course Guide will include a reading guide for each week. The reading material will be available on MyUni, on the internet or via the library eReserve system.
    Recommended Resources
    Mary Crock and Laurie Berg, Immigration, Refugees and Forced Migration: Law, Policy and Practice in Australia (2011)

    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
    The course is divided into 8 x 4 hour teaching blocks over the course of two weeks. The teaching block will be interactive, combining presentation of material by the course coordinator, and seminar style discussion. Students will engage in Group presentations in a final teaching block on 15 February.


    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
    Session 1 (1 Feb)
    A. Introduction to course- learning agreement, teaching methodology, introduction to assessment
    B. Forced Migration and Displaced Persons
    C. State Responsibility and Global citizenship

    Session 2 (2 Feb)
    A.The Refugee Convention: History and Operation
    B. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

    Session 3 (3 Feb)
    Who is a refugee?

    Session 4 (4 Feb)
    Refugee Status in Australia - ‘well-founded fear’, ‘persecution’

    Session 5 (5 Feb)
    A. Refugee Status in Australia- - The Convention grounds
    B. Complementary Protection

    Session 6 (8 Feb)
    Protection visa application process after 2014 amendments to the Migration Act

    Session 7 (9 Feb)
    A. The Non-Refoulement principle in the 1951 Refugee Convention
    B. Australia’s Migration zone, off-shore processing and the non-refoulement principle
    C. Asylum Issues in the Asia Pacific Region
    D. People-Smuggling
    E. Off-shore Processing

    Session 8 (10 Feb)
    Immigration Detention

    Session 9 (15 Feb)
    Group Presentations
  • 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 item Percentage of Final Mark Due Date Length
    Class Participation 10 10 mins
    Group Presentation 20 15 Feb 2016 10 - 20 mins
    Essay Plan 10 19 Feb 2016 1000 words
    Research Essay 60 30 March 2016 2500 words
    Assessment Detail
    A. Class Participation (10%)
    There are 10 marks allocated for class participation in Refugee Law and Policy.

    Marks will be awarded based on the following criteria:
    a. Attendance;
    b. Preparation;
    c. Quality of Contributions;
    d. Listening and engagement with others.

    Students must attend at least 5 of the 8 seminars in order to receive a pass (5/10) for class participation.

    A student who miss a seminar for medical or compassionate reasons should contact me as soon as possible.

    The class participation mark is designed to encourage and reward students’ active participation and preparation for the seminars.

    It is not awarded for simply the quantity of your participation. Rather, I will be looking for thoughtful contributions that demonstrate good preparation and engagement with the conceptual issues raised by the readings. I will also be looking for students who engage with their peers in an appropriate fashionbyresponding and listening to their contributions.

    If you have any concerns about your ability to perform in class because of a recognised disability, please contact me at: to discuss the possibility of alternative arrangements.

    B. Group Presentations (20%)

    1. Students will be divided into small groups and allocated a topic for the presentations in the first teching block on Monday, 1 Feb.

    2. The presentations will be held on Monday 15 Feb.

    3. All group members must contribute equally to the presentations to be eligible for the group mark. Students can allocate tasks according to preference. For example, those who like public speaking can do more of this during the presentation, while those who like research can contribute more to the preparation of the presentation.  However, all students must speak at least for a short time during the presentation to the class.

    4. Students will be required to sign a declaration that all members of the group contributed adequately to the presentation. If there are any issues with member contributions to your group please approach your seminar leader or the course coordinator to discuss these in advance of the presentations.

    5. The time length for Presentations will be discussed on the first day of teaching for the course, Monday 1 February.

    6. Presentations will be marked against the following criteria:
    a. the quality of the Precis
    b. the preparation the group undertook for the presentation;
    b. the contribution of each group member, and;
    c. the quality of the discussion - its logic and clarity, effective use of technology (if any); level of engagement and creativity.  

    7. The Presentation Précis must be emailed to me by 12.00pm on Monday 15 February

    C. Essay Plans (1000 words, 10%)

    Students may either choose an essay topic from a list of topics made availalbe at the commencement of the course on 1 February 2016, or choose their own topic.

    The essay plan must consist of the following elements:
    a. A specific research question
    b. A statement concisely explaining the method and scope of the inquiry.
    c. An explanation of why the student chose the particular field of inquiry.
    d. A preliminary list of research resources, including an annotation of 3 of the most relevant sources.

    The 'scope' of your essay indicates what you ar,e and what you are not, covering.  Any topic you choose will have a number of related issues that could be explored but will be beyond the scope of your  inquiry because of the word limit of the research essay. In the plan, I want you to make it clear you are aware of these broader issues in articulating exactly what you will cover.

    The 'method' of your essay refers to how you are going to go about addressing your essay question. Is it a doctrinal analysis or a theoretical analysis? Is your starting point what is right or what is possible? Or, in other words, is your analysis idealist, focusing on principle or is it realist, focusing on what is practical? Or is it some combination of the two?  How will you raise counter-arguments in your paper? Are there certain articles that form the basis of your analysis, and others that you will
    use as counterpoints? I am not saying you need to answer these questions precisely, but they give you an idea of what type of issues go into method.

    Importantly, method is more than simply a statement of how you have gone about your research and how you will use your sources in your essay. Overall, the essay plan is not simply a summary of your essay and what it is going to cover. It is an explanation of the strategy you are employing to research and write your essay. Scope and method are an important part of this strategy.

    Essay plans will also be separately considered for approval as the basis for the research essay component of the assessment. If a proposed plan is not approved at first instance, feedback on the plan will suggest required modifications to the direction and scope of the inquiry.

    D. Research Essay (60%, 2500 words)

    The research essay is the major piece of assessment in the course.

    Students will build on their essay plans, taking into account feedback provided on the plan, to complete the essay.The essays are to be a maximum of 2,500 words in length. This length includes all footnotes and other references, and all headings within the text. A bibliography may be included at the end of the essay. This will not be counted in the word count.

    Essays should include a title page that states the question that is covered in the essay.

    Because research topics will usually have been discussed with individual students before approval, in practice
    this will not be an anonymous assessment.

    Please use the AGLC 3rd edition for style and referencing.

    Marks will be awarded against the following criteria:
    1. Quality of presentation of the essay, including spelling, grammar, punctuation.
    2. Written communication skills, including logical and coherent structure.
    3. Accurate and appropriate referencing of sources used in the essay, using the AGLC.
    4. Depth of understanding of the immigration law and policy issues discussed in the paper.
    5. Quality and depth of research.    
    6. Quality of analysis, including: An appropriate introduction and conclusion to frame the discussion, placing the thesis within the context of migration law and policy more generally, explaining clearly the argument to be advanced and the assumptions being made.
    7. The ability to construct an argument in relation to the question and acknowledge counter-arguments.
    The ability to express thoughts and reason and argue about the material in the student’s own words.
    8. Effective use of the research resources to make out the core points in the essay.

    All three written assessments, the Group Presentation precis, the Essay Plan, and the Research Essay must be submitted electronically to Turnitin on the Refugee and Policy MyUni website.


    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. Hard copy submissions made after 5.00pm on a Friday will be assumed to have been submitted on the next business day and will be penalised accordingly.

    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 1,250, an essay graded 63% will have 5% deducted if it is 1,251 words long, for a final grade of 58%, 10% if it is 1,351 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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