LLAW6073 & JDOC6073

General Course Information

1.1 Course details

Course code: LLAW6073 / JDOC6073
Course name: International Protection of Refugees and Displaced Persons
Programme offered under: LLM Programme / JD Programme
Semester: First
Prerequisites / Co-requisites: No
Credit point value: 9 credits / 6 credits

1.2 Course description

Every single minute of 2018 as calculated and reported by UNHCR 25 new people fled their homes to escape persecution, human rights violations, war, or other violence.[1] Every minute of every day, for the entire year. This course will situate that statistic in its full context: viewing it from historical, legal, and practical perspectives. The course begins with an introduction to forced displacement in the 20th century, and presents refugee law as it relates more broadly to international human rights law and humanitarian law. This course examines in detail the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, the role of UNHCR, and who is included in and excluded from the international definition of “refugee”. It also scrutinizes key legal distinctions, compares and contrasts regional protection instruments, and explores the principle of non-refoulement. It reviews case studies to see how protection principles are applied in a variety of jurisdictions, and it looks at where, how, and why the system breaks down. This course will also delve into the current protection challenges faced by refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced persons, refugee advocates, NGOs, host countries, and policy-makers. This course goes beyond the numbers and headlines to look at the ongoing global refugee crisis from the perspective of those who experience displacement and those who are striving to find solutions.

[1] See UNHCR Report, Global Trends: Forced Displacement in 2018, available at: https://www.unhcr.org/globaltrends2018/

1.3 Course teachers

Name E-mail address Office Consultation
Course convenor Stephanie Biedermann sbied@hku.hk CCT 802 By email

Learning Outcomes

2.1 Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs) for this course

CLO 1 Demonstrate understanding of the international legal frameworks that protect forcibly displaced persons, and explain how refugee law relates to broader concepts such global migration, human rights, and the notion of state sovereignty.

CLO 2 Evaluate and apply the elements of the definition of “refugee” in the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees and discuss how States, the UNHCR, and courts have interpreted the elements of this definition.

CLO 3 Compare and contrast the 1951 Convention / 1967 Protocol protections with complementary international instruments as well as with regional protection mechanisms, regional processes, and relevant regional instruments.

CLO 4 Critically analyse the role of UNHCR in the protection of forcibly displaced persons, and assess potential ways to enhance protection in States that are Parties to the 1951 Convention as well as in Non-Party States.

CLO 5 Evaluate the operation of protection mechanisms for asylum-seekers and refugees in Hong Kong with reference to relevant international standards and explain the impact of local legal developments and key court cases.

CLO 6 Create arguments in support of a refugee status determination testimony for a hypothetical client, and analyse the practical challenges of representing asylum seekers.

CLO 7 Identify current social, political, and economic challenges to international and national protection systems, and explain the reasons for limitations in these systems.

CLO 8 Develop research, writing, critical thinking, and oral presentation skills and participate actively in class discussion and debate.

2.2 LLM and JD Programme Learning Outcomes (PLOs)

Please refer to the following link:

LLM – https://course.law.hku.hk/llm-plo/

JD – https://course.law.hku.hk/jd-plo/

2.3 Programme Learning Outcomes to be achieved in this course



3.1 Assessment Summary

Assessment task Due date Weighting Feedback method* Course learning outcomes
Class contribution and participation N/A 15% 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
Writing exercise / presentation TBC 35% 2, 3, 5 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
Take home exam TBC 50% 1, 2, 3 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
*Feedback method (to be determined by course teacher)
1 A general course report to be disseminated through Moodle
2 Individual feedback to be disseminated by email / through Moodle
3 Individual review meeting upon appointment
4 Group review meeting
5 In-class verbal feedback

3.2 Assessment Detail

Each assessment area will be covered in more detail during class. Rubrics and additional guidelines will be available as assignments are distributed. Deadline for final written work (take-home exam) will be in December 2021 (precise date TBA).

3.3 Grading Criteria

Please refer to the following link: https://www.law.hku.hk/_files/law_programme_grade_descriptors.pdf

Learning Activities

4.1 Learning Activity Plan

Seminar: 3 hours / week for 12 teaching weeks
Private study time: 9.5 hours / week for 12 teaching weeks

Remarks: the normative student study load per credit unit is 25 ± 5 hours (ie. 150 ± 30 hours for a 6-credit course), which includes all learning activities and experiences within and outside of classroom, and any assessment task and examinations and associated preparations.

4.2 Details of Learning Activities

To be advised by course convenor(s).

Learning Resources

5.1 Resources

Reading materials: Reading materials are posted on Moodle and/or available via the HKU Library
Core reading list:

Additional materials TBA

Subject to change as necessary

Recommended reading list:

Additional materials TBA

Subject to change as necessary

5.2 Links

Please refer to the following link: http://www.law.hku.hk/course/learning-resources/