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Unit Overview


This unit explores the public international law framework for the law of the sea and the regulatory regimes for the main uses of the oceans. The principle treaty examined is the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The unit covers the historical development of the law of the sea, leading up to the adoption of UNCLOS, as well as contemporary hard and soft law. Specific areas covered include the law governing different maritime zones, determination of baselines, settlement of disputes, the protection and exploitation of living and non-living marine resources as well as the intersection with refugee law.

The unit has a research focus, developing the independent research skills of students who explore a variety of primary and secondary materials in the field of the law of the sea.

6 points
(see Timetable)
Non-standard teaching periodUWA (Perth)Face to face

Students are able to (1) demonstrate a sophisticated knowledge and critical understanding of (a) the legal regime for the law of the sea including the rights and duties of states in different maritime zones; (b) the regulation of maritime activities; and (c) the key institutions and actors involved in the law of the sea; (2) critically explain, analyse and evaluate (a) the relevant legal principles and how states operationalise them; (b) the challenges currently facing the international law of the sea, and how they might be overcome; and (c) the operations of key actors and their role in creating and resolving law of the sea issues; (3) construct and evaluate critical arguments (a) about the effectiveness of the law of the sea, particularly with regard to enforcement and compliance issues; and (b) in response to hypothetical international legal problem situations; and (4) make (a) an assessment of where the law of the sea can be expected to develop; and (b) recommendations for law reform and/or further research.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) presentation; (2) research paper; and (3) participation. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Senior Lecturer Philipp Kastner
Unit rules
Enrolment in
20810 Doctor of Juridical Science
LAWS5179 Law of the Sea
Contact hours
Teaching dates for this unit are 16,18,23,25 October 2024. Please refer to the timetable website for session times and venues. Attendance at all sessions is mandatory.
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.