Graduate Diploma in Global Competition and Consumer Law
What will I study?
What you will learn
Economic theories, principles and methods that underpin and influence competition and consumer policy and law
Central to this field is economics. You will develop a solid understanding of and an ability to apply key economic frameworks and techniques relevant to the policy, law and enforcement in this field.
Legal rules that govern competition and consumer protection in major jurisdictions around the world – particularly the United States, European Union, and parts of the Asia-Pacific region
You will also gain valuable insights into the political economy of competition policy and its intersection with international trade, as well as other aspects of how competition law works in a globalised world.
Institutions that develop, administer and enforce competition and consumer policy and law
You will examine the challenges and dynamics influencing institutions that administer and enforce competition and consumer laws – principally competition and consumer authorities, but also central prosecutorial agencies, tribunals and courts.
To gain a Graduate Diploma (Global Competition and Consumer Law) you must complete 50 points comprised of:
- Four elective subjects.
*Please note: 'Foundations - Competition Law and Economics' is a prerequisite for other online subjects in the course.
Each year there will be at least four on-campus subjects on offer which are taught intensively over five days. These subjects will change each year and will generally be subjects in niche areas that complement the online subjects in the program.
This will vary depending on the individual student’s background in the area and capacity. However, on average students will need to allocate around 6-8 hours ‘study’ time (including reading, watching videos, completing exercises and interactives, discussion board participation, participating in webinars, etc) per week, in addition to time required to complete assessments. The total time commitment required for each subject over a term will be 150 hours.
To help you plan your studies please see the following link for information about which subjects are available each term over the next two years and outlines a recommended study sequence for the LLM (Global Competition and Consumer Law) and Master of Global Competition and Consumer Law courses.
You can also study single subjects to contribute to your professional development. Single subjects are available through the Community Access Program (CAP) or for cross institutional study. Subject pre-requisites
can be waived in certain circumstances. Please note, course application deadlines apply. For further information or instructions on applying for a single subject, please contact Student Support.
Explore this course
Explore the subjects you could choose as part of this diploma.
- Foundations: Competition Law & Economics 12.5 pts
Competition Law is an area of law with mixed legal-economic content. The central disciplinary underpinning of competition law is economics. It is therefore essential that those practising in this field, whether as legal advisors to business, competition authority staff, or members of tribunals or courts have a solid grounding in the economic theories, concepts and techniques that underpin the policy, law and enforcement in this field.
This foundational subject introduces students to the history and spread of competition law across the world over the last century and to the range of objectives, influenced by various economic schools of thought, that have informed its development in different places and at different times. It ensures that students are well-versed in core economic vocabulary, concepts and frameworks and the ways in which they are translated into categories of legal prohibitions and enforcement approaches, common to all competition systems.
The subject sets the foundation for the course, providing crucial groundwork that will equip students to confidently tackle the economic content of the remaining subjects in greater detail. While the subject includes material with basic numerical equations, examples and diagrams, it does not require students to have advanced mathematical or statistical background knowledge or skills.
Highlights of the subject include:
- Practical application of economic concepts and techniques through problem-based learning activity; and
- Expositions and insights from leading economists and practitioners on various aspects of economics and the role of economists in competition law and practice.
- Cartels 12.5 pts
Cartel conduct is regarded as anathema to competitive markets and consumer welfare. Such conduct encompasses various forms of collusion or collaboration between competitors, the most serious of which involve fixing prices, diving markets, restricting output and rigging bids. These categories of collusion have been shown to raise prices, reduce quality and choice, and stifle business responsiveness and innovation. They are also hard to detect, prosecute and deter. Tougher anti-cartel laws and sanctions have been a high priority for competition authorities for at least the last decade. While there is a high degree of consensus around the world as to the core tenets of the prohibitions applicable to serious cartel conduct, there is a vigorous discourse amongst authorities, practitioners, business and academics regarding the most effective approaches to sanctioning and enforcement.
At the same time, not all agreements between business rivals are anti-competitive or detrimental to consumer welfare. Some, such as joint ventures or distribution agreements, may be driven by efficiencies or may be welfare-enhancing in other ways. Competition laws and their enforcement therefore need to distinguish between different types of conduct involving competitors based on their economic rationale and likely effects.
This subject refreshes and expands understanding of the economic principles relevant to collusion (or horizontal restraints) that were introduced in the first subject in the course (Foundations: Competition Law & Economics). Students examine critically and in-depth the main prohibitions and exemptions or defences that apply to cartel conduct and other types of collaboration between competitors. They explore who should be held liable for such conduct (companies and/or individuals) and what approaches are or should be taken to sanctioning (administrative and/or criminal). Finally, students explore and assess the effectiveness of the policies and tools that competition authorities deploy in detecting, prosecuting and deterring cartels, as well as learn about and analyse the vigorous debates that relate to private actions for damages arising out of such conduct.
Highlights of the subject include:
- Critical examination of the approaches taken to the design and application of cartel laws and sanctions, drawing on examples from different jurisdictions around the world;
- Use of the rich body of theoretical and empirical research relating to cartel conduct as well as analysis of actual cases and competition authority policy documents and guidelines to aid this examination; and
- Insights and perspectives from leading stakeholders such as competition authority officials and practitioners to assist students in grappling with the challenges posed by the design and enforcement of anti-cartel rules.
- Competition Law in a Globalised World 12.5 pts
This subject will examine in depth the implications of the transnational features and effects of mergers, unilateral conduct, cartels and other business activities for the design and enforcement of competition law and policy . Students will examine rules governing extraterritorial jurisdiction, discovery, recognition and enforcement of judgments, and extradition in the international competition law context. They will learn about the ways in which competition authorities cooperate with each other and the roles played by regional and international organisations and networks. The subject also canvasses the relationship between competition and trade policies, and the particular challenges facing small and developing economies in a globalised world.
Highlights of the subject include:
- Critical examination of how tensions between considerations of national sovereignty and international comity arise in the competition law context
- Exploration and critique of the ways in which governments and competition authorities are seeking to meet the enforcement challenges posed by anti-competitive conduct that has multi-jurisdictional effects
- Consideration of the strategic opportunities and challenges for multinational business organisations in managing competition law risks
- Special focus on the increasing significance of competition policy, law and enforcement in international trade and regulation and the implications for small and developing economies
- Insights and perspectives from leading stakeholders such as competition authority officials and practitioners to assist students in grappling with the challenges posed by the design and application of competition policies and rules in cross-border settings
- Consumer Protection 12.5 pts
This subject will examine the policy objectives underpinning consumer protection laws, including the intersection between consumer and competition policies. Students will develop a clear understanding of the key areas of regulation, including various forms of misleading and deceptive conduct, unfair practices and contract terms regulation, consumer guarantees and warranties, and product liability and safety regulation. They will examine key enforcement tools and mechanisms for consumer redress, focusing particularly on the challenges posed by e-commerce, and explore the often complex institutional arrangements involving national and international bodies, as well as non-governmental organisations, in this field. This subject is international and comparative in its scope and draws on examples from a wide range of jurisdictions around the world, but with a particular focus on consumer policy, law and enforcement in the Asia-Pacific region.
Highlights of the subject include:
- Critical examination of the policy objectives and priorities underpinning, and the approaches taken to the design and application of, consumer laws, including variations between developed and developing countries in this context
- Case studies that illustrate the practical challenges associated with enforcing consumer laws, with particular emphasis on the issues that arise in the context of growing international trade and e-commerce
Insights and perspectives from leading stakeholders such as consumer enforcement authority officials, intergovernmental and nongovernmental officials and practitioners to assist students in developing a sophisticated appreciation of the issues facing the development and practice of consumer law and policy, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.
- Mergers 12.5 pts
This subject will provide students with an in-depth understanding of the legal rules and economic principles that underpin the review of mergers and acquisitions and the types of information and analyses used to assess the competitive effects of these transactions. Students will examine how ‘special’ cases, such as joint ventures, failing firms, strategic and minority stakes, and creeping acquisitions are dealt with, and will learn about the procedures used by competition authorities and the strategies employed by merger parties in the review context.
Highlights of the subject include:
- Critical examination of the approaches taken to the design and application of merger laws, review processes and remedies, drawing on examples from different jurisdictions around the world;
- Use of the rich body of theoretical and empirical research relating to mergers as well as analysis of actual cases and competition authority policy documents and guidelines to aid this examination; and
- Insights and perspectives from leading stakeholders such as competition authority officials and practitioners to assist students in grappling with the challenges posed by the design and enforcement of merger rules and processes.
- Institutions 12.5 pts
This subject examines the challenges and dynamics influencing the institutions that administer and enforce competition and consumer laws. It also explores the role of international institutions in promoting or enforcing competition law and policy and their various structures and modes of influence. Although the subject’s focus is on competition and consumer authorities, the nature and role of central prosecutorial agencies, tribunals and courts are also examined. Students will be challenged to engage with a range of institutional issues including agency models, mandate, governance structures, investigative tools and processes, enforcement, compliance and advocacy and evaluation of effectiveness. Students will undertake an in-depth case-study on a competition or consumer-related body and critically analyse an aspect or aspects of its design, operation or performance against the principles developed in this subject.
- Unilateral Conduct 12.5 pts
One of the means by which firms may behave anti-competitively is by engaging in unilateral conduct that damages the competitive process and consumer welfare. Such conduct may be described in various ways in different jurisdictions, including as monopolisation, abuse of dominance or misuse of market power. However, the rules that apply to it share a common aim, namely to target conduct by firms with market power that is likely to harm competition and reduce consumer welfare.
Anti-competitive unilateral conduct generally involves conduct by a firm that has substantial or monopoly/monopsony power in a market and uses that power to implement a strategy that is likely to harm competition. Debates and divergence between jurisdictions in relation to unilateral conduct relate to the level of power that should trigger legal prohibitions, the types of strategies that are likely to have anti-competitive effects and how such effects should be established and assessed. In recent years, such debates have focussed on conduct by large firms in the information technology sector.
This subject explores the approaches used by competition authorities to address anti-competitive unilateral conduct. Differences in approach between jurisdictions are critically analysed. Building on learning in previous subjects, the subject examines what is meant by unilateral market power and the conditions that enable unilateral power to be used to implement an anti-competitive strategy. Unilateral conduct that gives rise to a competition concern may take various forms, the most common categories of which are analysed in detail in this subject. Such categories include conduct involving refusals to supply and predatory pricing. However, a difficulty in addressing anti-competitive behaviour of this type is that it is not readily distinguishable from highly aggressive competition. Given this, various tests that have been used and the evidence relevant to making this distinction are examined. Seminal decisions by competition authorities and courts as well as industry case studies are used to provide insights into the competition analysis of unilateral conduct.
Highlights of the subject include:
- Critical examination of the approaches taken to the design and application of unilateral conduct laws, drawing on examples from different jurisdictions around the world;
- In-depth case studies of unilateral conduct in a range of industry sectors with a view to ensuring students can properly analyse the rationales for such conduct and assess their likely effects on competition; and
- Insights and perspectives from leading stakeholders such as competition authority officials and practitioners to assist students in grappling with the challenges posed by the design and enforcement of unilateral conduct rules.
- Australian Consumer Law 12.5 pts
Australia has a detailed and comprehensive consumer protection regime dealing with the supply of goods and services, including financial products, to consumers. Primary legislation is the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), found in Schedule 2 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010(Cth); equivalent provisions in the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001 (Cth) (ASIC Act) applying to financial services and products; and, for consumer credit, the National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009 (NCCP Act). This subject provides students with a detailed knowledge of key features of the consumer protection regimes underlying the supply of goods, services and credit to consumers, along with the common law principles and policy imperatives that underpin these regimes. The lecturers include one of the Law School's private lawyers with specialist expertise in consumer law, and a leading practitioner in this field of law.
Principal topics include:
- Purposes of consumer protection law
- The regulatory toolkit
- Common law doctrines underlying the legislative regime
- Enforcement and remedial strategies.
- Key consumer protection regimes under the ACL, ASIC Act and NCCP Act:
- Misleading or deceptive conduct
- Unconscionable conduct
- Interest rate caps and responsible lending
- The specific regulation of small amount loans
- Unfair contract terms.
- Consumer guarantees and implied terms
- Chinese Competition Law and Policy 12.5 pts
The enactment of the Anti-Monopoly Law in China in 2007 was a significant step in China’s transition from a centrally planned economy to a socialist market economy. In a short period of time, China has become a globally important competition law jurisdiction and increasingly crucial area of study and practice for competition lawyers, businesses, and enforcement agencies within and beyond China. This subject will provide students with a specialised, in-depth and practical understanding of the Anti-Monopoly Law, its implementing regulations, and important decisions made by the competition agencies and courts in its legal, economic, regulatory and political contexts. This subject also provides insights into the dynamics of the Chinese legal system and reform more broadly, as competition law in China sits at the intersection of law, economics, business, and politics.
Principal topics include:
- Competition law in the context of China’s reform and opening up
- Prohbitions in the Anti-Monopoly Law: monopoly agreements, abuse of dominance, merger control, and abuse of administrative power
- Chinese competition law and intellectual property
- Chinese competition law and regulated industries
- Chinese competition law and the state
- Institutional, enforcement and procedural issues relating to Chinese competition law
- International dimensions of Chinese competition law.
- Competition Law & Intellectual Property 12.5 pts
Intellectual property rights support innovation through the offer of a temporary 'monopoly’ to creators and inventors. However, such rights can also impede competition and downstream innovation. Poorly designed intellectual property rules can help rights holders obstruct new players by impeding their access to technology and content. A carefully designed and dynamic intellectual property system can, by contrast, promote competition and enable follow-on innovation. The interaction of intellectual property and competition law is especially crucial here. Taught by two experts in the fields of competition law and intellectual property, this subject examines how competition law regulates intellectual property and vice versa. Relevant Australian and comparable law will be examined, along with case studies in topical areas such as platform liability, big data, file-sharing and luxury brands.
This subject provides an examination of the interface between the legal property rights created by intellectual property statutes and at common law, and the body of law that controls and regulates anti-competitive practices.
Principal topics include:
- Policy goals of intellectual property and competition law
- Regulatory approaches and law reform
- Limitations and controls placed over the grant, subsistence, scope and infringement of intellectual property rights under statutory and common law regimes
- Part IV of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth)
- Dealings in intellectual property under intellectual property and competition statutes.
- Statutory and compulsory licensing, and remedies
- Competition in Digital Markets 12.5 pts
Digital markets are affecting many aspects of our lives, transforming products, services, terms of trade, and even employment markets. The rising importance of big data, algorithmic decision-making, and online platforms create complex regulatory challenges for ensuring that the digital markets increase welfare. Competition law has an important role to play in this digital eco-system. Accordingly, this subject explores the complex challenges that digital markets pose to competition law. To do so, this subject will first analyze the unique characteristics of the digital environment and how they affect market dynamics. It will then analyze the main challenges to competition law, including coordination through algorithmic interactions, market power based on big data, abusive conduct by platforms and intermediaries, and defining markets and market power in digital eco-systems. It will also explore the intersection between competition, consumer protection and privacy, which is raising important institutional questions for the allocation and coordination of regulatory responses. This subject will explore global developments in this complex and fast-moving field. Drawing on the latest literature and major cases and inquiries, it will equip students to critically engage with and meet the challenges posed for business and its advisors and for policymakers, regulators and law enforcers in digital markets.
This subject is led by two of the world’s competition law experts, with particular expertise in the regulation of digital markets.
Principal topics will include:
- Analysing the special characteristics of digital markets and the unique market dynamics they create, including:
- Defining Big Data
- Analysing the dynamics of Big Data markets, including entry barriers and network effects
- Exploring advancements in algorithmic decision-making, including machine learning and deep learning
- Debating the competitive significance of algorithmic decision-making based on Big Data
- Exploring the role of digital intermediaries, including platforms, in the digital eco-system
- Analysing the unique challenges that digital markets pose to competition law enforcement, including:
- Increased coordination through algorithmic interactions
- Market power based on big data
- Abusive conduct by platforms and intermediaries
- Defining markets and market power in digital eco-systems
- Big Data and merger review
- Challenges created by the bundling of different products and services in the digital eco-system
- Analysing the intersection between competition, consumer protection and privacy
- International Trade and Competition Law 12.5 pts
This interdisciplinary subject will examine the relationships between international trade and competition policies from both legal and economic perspectives. The subject will focus on anti-competitive practices of an international scope and how they may be addressed by trade and competition rules. It will canvass the tensions and complementarities between these two areas of policy, as well as incorporate general public policy, commercial diplomacy and institutional considerations. In addition, anti-dumping/safeguards law and practices and how they relate to competition law will be taken up and their link with market access opportunities explained.
The subject will include a discussion of failures of the multilateral trading system to address international competition law problems, and options to regulate competition law in the World Trade Organization and through other means. Contemporary issues driving new initiatives such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership will be discussed.
Mr Qaqaya was the head of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Competition and Consumer Policies Branch for almost 20 years and has an in-depth knowledge and vast practical experience in advising governments in these fields.
Principal topics include:
- Introduction to trade and competition policies: key definitions, concepts, contexts and interdependencies
- Framework for trade liberalisation: a review of trade theories, trade policy, rent seeking, lobbies, corruption and incentives
- Principles of the trading system: most-favoured-nation, non-discrimination, national treatment, prohibition of quantitative restrictions, prohibition of dumping and subsidies, anti-dumping actions and countervailing measures, General System of Preferences (GSP) for developing countries, regional trade arrangements
- Principles of competition policy: theoretical models vs competition restrictions in real world, including dominance, strategic behaviour, anti-competitive mergers, horizontal and vertical agreements and government restrictions
- The interface between the competition and trade policies: comparison of analytical approaches used by competition law and trade policy, including in relation to market definition, harm assessment, remedies, sanctions, countervailing and retaliation measures, dispute resolution, arbitration and judicial review.
- Digital Consumer Protection Law 12.5 pts
Digital technology is changing markets and the way in which consumers interact with them. This subject investigates the challenges raised by this transformation for policies and laws that aim to protect consumers in their market dealings and for the values that underpin these regimes. It will do this through a series of case studies critically examining different features of the consumer-market exchange in a digital age and the responses by governments to date. Through the lens of these case studies, students will:
- critically consider the adequacy of traditional policy and law in responding to the challenges raised by digital technology in the consumer market;
- explore what additional types of interventions and strategies might be used in responding to the distinctive characteristics of the digital consumer market; and
- investigate and evaluate the responses of different jurisdictions, including, as relevant, Australia, India, China, ASEAN, European Union, Canada and the United States in addressing effective consumer protection in a digital age.
- Intl and Comparative Competition Law 12.5 pts
This subject will provide students with international and comparative insights into a field of growing significance to practitioners in Australia and the region. It considers competition law questions in a broad context. It will examine the major systems of competition law enforcement that have been adopted by most countries in the world and their major differences, and how they compare to the Australian system. It will also consider the global competition law system, including the effects of national law and enforcement on other countries as well as the justifications and costs of a variety of international enforcement and harmonisation attempts which are underway. A special focus will also be given to the unique challenges faced by small economies in applying their competition laws in international markets. Recognition of such issues is important for any lawyer or scholar who wishes to apply competition law in a globalised world.
This subject is led by one of the world’s competition law experts, with particular expertise in small and developing jurisdictions and in international competition law.
Principal topics include:
- Comparative analysis of the goals of competition laws
- The role of national competition authorities and the impact structural choice has on competition law enforcement
- Comparative analysis of different approaches to cartels and price-fixing, abuse of dominance, and mergers
- Effective competition law for small economies
- The effects of the level of development on optimal rules
- Jurisdiction and extra-territoriality
- Bilateral and international cooperation in competition law
- The impact of regional trade agreements on competition regimes and enforcement
- Challenges in a world without trade barriers