LAW 3539 - International Legal Practice: Interpretative Approaches

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2014

This course provides students with an understanding of the theory and practice of interpretation in international law. Interpretation of legal texts forms the foundation for understanding international legal obligations. This course will consider interpretation from the perspective of examining who in the international legal order has the authority to interpret. Within the context of this inquiry the role of judicial structures, states and individuals will be explored. The course will consider the scholarly literature on interpretative theories, from compliance, constructivist, new legal realists and formalists perspectives. The practice of interpretation will also be examined drawing from different forums, such as the International Court of Justice, The Human Rights Committee, The International Criminal Court and the Appellate Body of the WTO. Different genres of legal documents will also be examined including interpretation of Security Council resolutions, multilateral and bilateral treaties and customary international law obligations. The aim of the course is to provide students with a practical and theoretical appreciation of interpretative issues in the international legal system.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code LAW 3539
    Course International Legal Practice: Interpretative Approaches
    Coordinating Unit Adelaide Law School
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate Law (LLB)
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact up to 3 hours per week
    Prerequisites LAW1501 and LAW2520 or LAW1508
    Restrictions Available to LLB students only
    Course Description This course provides students with an understanding of the theory and practice of interpretation in
    international law. Interpretation of legal texts forms the foundation for understanding international legal obligations. This course will consider interpretation from the perspective of examining who in the international legal order has the authority to interpret. Within the context of this inquiry the role of judicial structures, states and individuals will be explored. The course will consider the scholarly
    literature on interpretative theories, from compliance, constructivist, new legal realists and formalists perspectives. The practice of interpretation will also be examined drawing from different forums, such as the International Court of Justice, The Human Rights Committee, The International Criminal Court and the Appellate Body of the WTO. Different genres of legal documents will also be examined including interpretation of Security Council resolutions, multilateral and bilateral treaties and customary international law obligations. The aim of the course is to provide students with a practical and theoretical appreciation of interpretative issues in the international legal system.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Rebecca LaForgia


    Dr Rebecca La Forgia

    Room 2.10, Ligertwood Building

    Email: rebecca.laforgia@adelaide.edu.au
    Phone: 08 8313 0877
    Course Timetable

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

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    1. To develop an understanding of the theory and practice of international legal interpretation in a variety of contexts. 
    2. To understand and to develop competence in dealing with some of the central issues concerning the creation of meaning at an international level including; the tension between values, the range of participants in the interpretive process and the difficulty of finding agreed facts on which to base judgements. 
    3. To critically examine the operation and application of international law in practical contexts. 
    4. To develop skills involved in interpretative methods, including reflective written skills and communication skills of listening and persuasion. 
    5.  Present persuasive and detailed written arguments based on contemporary international legal research.
    6. Develop written and oral skills to explore and defend legal interpretative positions from a variety of perspectives. 
    7.  To undertake self-directed international legal research that supports interpretative arguments over contemporary applications of international law in society.
    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)
    Knowledge and understanding of the content and techniques of a chosen discipline at advanced levels that are internationally recognised. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
    The ability to locate, analyse, evaluate and synthesise information from a wide variety of sources in a planned and timely manner. 2, 3, 5, 7
    An ability to apply effective, creative and innovative solutions, both independently and cooperatively, to current and future problems. 4,5,6
    Skills of a high order in interpersonal understanding, teamwork and communication. 4,6,
    A proficiency in the appropriate use of contemporary technologies. 7
    A commitment to continuous learning and the capacity to maintain intellectual curiosity throughout life. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7
    A commitment to the highest standards of professional endeavour and the ability to take a leadership role in the community. 2,6,7,
    An awareness of ethical, social and cultural issues within a global context and their importance in the exercise of professional skills and responsibilities. 2,7
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources



    All required readings and resources for this course will be provided free of charge from the Digital Resources Management Centre.
    Recommended Resources
    A list of recommended readings will be made available through My Uni. My Uni will also feature a page of links to useful internet resources and news articles. These will be particularly helpful in locating material on contemporary international events and issues relevant to the course.
     
    Online Learning



    The course is supported by the International Legal Practice; Interpretative Approaches. MyUni website. The website contains links to the following resources:



    1. Course information, including the Course Profile and the seminar and lecture guide.

    2. Course materials – such as items of assessment, lecture PowerPoint slides, and other course materials which will be posted from time to time.



    Lectures – audio streaming of lectures and video streaming of lecture slides will be posted (where available) under the Course Materials link as soon as possible after each lecture. This is subject as always to the technology working, so attendance is encouraged.



    4. Discussion Board – This is available for students to discuss the course amongst themselves and to communicate with the course coordinator in relation to administrative or substantive questions about the course.



    5. Grade book – where students’ grades will be entered for each assignment.

    MyUni will also be used to post announcements, and assignment tasks. Students are expected to check MyUni regularly to keep up to date with these materials and additional learning resources throughout the course. Students should also regularly check their email



    6. Students will also have access to ‘articulate story line’ a new software programme to support some interactive modules run during the course.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes

    The course will be taught in a one hour lecture and two hour seminars per week. Students will be required to attend a two-hour seminar per week. The method of teaching will be interactive, with students expected to participate. There will be some opportunities for students to lead discussions in seminars, as well as group exercises. It is expected that the relevant reading materials will be read (thoroughly) prior to each class.



    Seminars are an important component of your learning in this course. The communication and listening skills developed in seminars by regularly and actively participating in discussions and listening to your peers and giving constructive and thoughtful responses are considered to be most important and worthwhile skills.
    Workload

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

     

    Contact time: 1 hours lecture plus 2 hour seminar each week. This amounts to 36 hours of formal class time across the semester.   Preparation time: 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

    How do we create meaning in the wide range of contexts in which international law is used? How do we assess the validity of any given interpretation? These are some of the core questions of this course. The course is divided into three parts; Part A, Part B and Part C. This scaffolding is done in order to create a manageable and relevant approach to international legal interpretation. These examples and questions regarding interpretation are drawn from the current international legal literature.

    Week

    Lecture and Seminar Topic

    1

    Week one; Theory and Practice of Interpretation in International law. Overview of approaches to the question of interpretation in international law.

    2

    Week two: Part A Assessing meaning of international law through context; Security Council Resolutions.

    3

    Week three: Part A  Assessing meaning of international law through context; The Multilateral treaty as a construction of "self-contained" legal architecture,

    4



    Week four: Part A Assessing meaning of international law through context; International Committees as administrators of law and finders of fact.

    5

    Week five: Part B Assessing meaning as a choice between competing values; Overview of Theories and approaches and literature to interpretation as a question of choice between values.

    6

    Week Six: Part B Assessing meaning as a choice between competing values; Freedom vs. Security Case study the use of Drones

    7

    Week Seven; Part B Assessing meaning as a choice between competing values; Conservation vs Use; Case study The Whaling Case. ( if it has not been handed down another example will be used)

    8

    Week Eight: Part B Assessing meaning as a choice between competing values; Control vs Chaos; The inclusion or exclusion of Public Participation in Free Trade Agreements.

    9

    Week Nine: Part C Meaning as legal evolution and coherence in a dispute structure; The WTO

    10

    Week Ten: Part C Meaning as legal evolution and coherence in a dispute structure; European Court of Human Rights and the question of Jurisdiction beyond the territory of the State.

     

    11

    Week Eleven: In week seven students will be asked to select topics for discussion in week 11. The topic will be drawn from an international legal event that is occurring that is of interest to the class.

     

     

    12

    Week Twelve: Revision and Consolidation.

     

    All

     



    Specific Course Requirements

    There are no additional requirements for completion of this course other than described elsewhere in this document and site.
  • 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

    % of final mark

    Dates

    Length

    Redeemable

    Learning Objectives

     

    Online quiz and learning module

     

     

     

    5%

     

    Released: Monday, Week 3 (via MyUni)

    Due: 2pm, Monday, Week 5.

     

    Online

     

     

    N

    1, 3, 5

    Class participation

    10%

    N/A

    N/A

    N

    1-7

    Interim Assignment

    (Optional)

    30%

    Released: Monday, Week 5 (on MyUni)

    Due: 2pm, Thursday, Week 7

    1250 words

    Y

    1-7

    Take Home Examination

    55%

    Or

    85%

    Released

    Friday Week 12   2 pm ( on My Uni)

    Due Tuesday the 17h of June 2014.

     

    2,500

    words

    N

    1-7

    Assessment Detail

    Assessment Detail



    1. Online Quiz 5%

    Release Date: 2pm Monday, Week 3 (via MyUni)

    Due Date: 2pm Monday, Week 5

    Students must complete the online quiz by this date and time. Unless the student can demonstrate medical or compassionate reasons exist for non- completion.

    Description: After the first three weeks, students will be provided via the quiz module with the opportunity for feedback on the fundamental building blocks of the first half of the course - the theory and practice on international legal interpretation. Further quiz instructions will be posted on MyUni.



    2. Class Participation 10%

    Students must attend and satisfactorily participate in seminars. This means they must prepare for class by completing the readings, watching and listening to any online modules prepared on myuni and attempting the seminar questions. Students will also be expected to contribute in small and large group discussions and listen attentively to each other and be willing to provide feedback to other seminar participants.

    The Seminar leader is responsible for monitoring and assessing attendance and participation. 



    Marking Criteria: Class participation will be assessed against the following criteria:

    · Attendance

    · Preparation and contributions. It is not expected that all comments are ‘correct’, but participation must be based on your reflective reading of the course materials.

    · Respectful listening and engagement with others.

    More detailed rules and expectations for class participation will be released on MyUni and distributed and explained in the first week of seminars.





    3. Interim Assignment (Optional) 30%



    Analysis/interpretation of primary documentation assignment (30%, optional, redeemable). This assignment will require students to explore critically the challenges in interpreting primary material prepared and produced by international bodies. Students will be provided with the primary documentation and will explore the interpretative issues raised. Further assignment instructions will be posted on MyUni. Due 2pm, Thursday, Week 7







    4. Final Take Home Examination 55%, or 85% (depending on whether assignment is undertaken or if assignment marks are redeemed)

    The take home examination will consist of a series of short answer/essay style questions and also reflective questions relating to primary documentation. The take home examination will cover all topics addressed in the course. Available Friday 2pm Week 12 MyUni. Due 2.00pm Tuesday the 17th of June. Details on submission requirements will be available on MyUni.

    Submission

    Students must retain a copy of all assignments submitted.

    The Analysis/interpretation of primary documentation assignment  and the take home examination must be submitted in accordance with the specific directions contained in instructions which will be made available on MyUni.

    Extensions: Requests for extensions must be made electronically, according to law school policy, at https://unified.adelaide.edu.au/group/law-school/policies-and-procedures.

    As the Analysis/interpretation of primary documentation assignment is an optional assessment, there would normally be NO extensions. Students should coordinate their timetable to be able to undertake the  Analysis/interpretation of primary documentation assignment if they wish to do so.

    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.
    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.

    Courses for which a result of conceded pass has been obtained may not be presented towards the degree requirements for the Bachelor of Laws or the Honours Degree of Bachelor of Laws programs, or any postgraduate law program, nor to satisfy prerequisite requirements within any law course.

    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 (http://www.adelaide.edu.au/policies/101/) 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.

  • 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 http://www.adelaide.edu.au/writingcentre/
  • 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:

    http://law.adelaide.edu.au/student/assessment/


     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 2014, 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.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.