LAW 7173 - Maritime Law and Geopolitics in the Asian Region

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2015

This course will address the competing claims made in relation to the South China Sea by countries in the Asia-Pacific region. It will principally focus on the Law of the Sea Convention and its application to the resolution of disputes with particular reference to the legal arguments invoked by China, Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam, as well as Australian and US reactions to such arguments. Dispute resolution processes as contained within the Law of the Sea Convention as well as principles of law that may be unilaterally invoked in support of claims will be canvassed. Given China?s prominence in this arena there will be special attention placed on Chinese conceptions of governance (based on cultural, historical, and political attitudes) as well as general precepts of maritime strategy as a basis for developing a deeper understanding of the regional political, military and strategic dynamics. A central question in this analysis will be how to understand China?s approach to its national identity as it seeks to assume a role of regional leadership and how this translates into legal arguments and claims advanced.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code LAW 7173
    Course Maritime Law and Geopolitics in the Asian Region
    Coordinating Unit Adelaide Law School
    Term Semester 1
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Intensive
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Professor Dale Stephens

    Professor Peter Dutton - US Naval War College
    Course Timetable

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

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    This course will enable students:
    1.  To understand the political, cultural and historical influences of Chinese governance.
    2.  To examine the nature of power, law and politics in East Asia and existing dispute resolution processes. 
    3.  To understand the Law of the Sea framework and the compulsory dispute settlement mechanisms.
    4.  To examine the legal and political dimensions of sovereignty and the nature of such disputes in East Asia with specific reference to the     Spratly Islands and the Senkaku-Diaoyu Islands.
    5.  To understand the nature of maritime disputes within East Asia and Chinese apporaches to delimitation of maritime areas.
    6.  To examine the unique circumstances of Chinese perspectives on the South China Sea and the historical significance of the '9 - dash' line.
    7.  To investigate contemporary international arbitration efforts by the Philippines in relation to disputed maritime claims.
    8.  To understand US approaches to maritime dispute resolution and to appreciate the nature of US and Australian navigational perspectives under the Law of the Sea Convention and supporting customary international law.
    9. To successfully apply existing legal frameworks to contentious maritime issues in the Asian region.
    10. To develop effective skills, both orally and in writing, in the construction of legal argument and analysis on issues of the law applicable to maritime disputes in the Asian region.
    11. To undertake self-directed international legal research at a high level, including through the use of online technologies.
    12. To analyse the characteristics of specific legal - political perspectives by reference to a complex rules-based regime and to draw legally accurate conclusions.

    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 8.
    The ability to locate, analyse, evaluate and synthesise information from a wide variety of sources in a planned and timely manner. 9 10 11 12.
    An ability to apply effective, creative and innovative solutions, both independently and cooperatively, to current and future problems. 9 10 12
    Skills of a high order in interpersonal understanding, teamwork and communication. 10
    A proficiency in the appropriate use of contemporary technologies. 11
    A commitment to continuous learning and the capacity to maintain intellectual curiosity throughout life. 1 - 12
    A commitment to the highest standards of professional endeavour and the ability to take a leadership role in the community. 9- 12
    An awareness of ethical, social and cultural issues within a global context and their importance in the exercise of professional skills and responsibilities. 2 3 7 9
  • Learning Resources
    Online Learning
    MyUni will be used to post announcements, additional lecture materials (including slides, and where available, recordings of lectures) and announce assignment tasks.  It will also contain electronic copies of the Course Profile and Course materials.  Students are expected to check MyUni regularly to keep up to date with these materials and additional learning resources throughout the course.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes

    No information currently available.


    No information currently available.

    Learning Activities Summary

    No information currently available.

  • 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
    Class Participation 10% - Ongoing through week of 16 - 20 March 2015.

    In Class Presentation (10 mins) 30% - Friday, March 20, 2015.

    Research Essay 4000 words - 60% - Due Monday, 13 April 2015.

    Class Participation accounts for 10% of the overall grade. The course will spend considerable time discussing legal and political issues associated with maritime disputes and governance mecanisms in the Asian region.  There will be ample opportunity for students to engage both individually and within groups on the issues covered.

    In class presentation.  Students will be required to provide a short (10 minute) presentation relating to a particular issue covered in the class. Students may use this short presentation to hone arguments that will be used in their long assessment paper or use the opportunity to address a discrete area of interest that may not ultimately feature in their long paper.  This process has proven highly effective in focussing attention on a key issue and allowing the class to constructively critique that area.  It offers a unique ability for a student to 'road test' ideas within a very supportive and positive environment.

    The majority of the course grade will come from a 4000 word essay (long paper).  While students will be free to design any relevant (and approved) topic they would like, selected possible topics will be presented progressively through the course for consideration.  All topics must be approved by the course coordinator, preferably by the last day of the course.

    Assessment Detail
    Students choosing to use this course to satisfy the requirements of the substantial research piece of scholarship for their program must undertake the required disciplinary research and produce a 7,000 - 8,000 word essay which will be assessed against publication standards. This essay will replace the above mentioned research essay.

    No information currently available.

    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.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • 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.