For graduate students, the course number is LAW7076HS.

Note: This course satisfies the International/Comparative/Transnational course requirement.

This year, for the first time, the course will benefit from the perspective of a Federal Court judge, who will provide practical insights relating to hearings before both the tribunals and Courts, including in the areas of oral and written advocacy. The course will also address some of the delicate ethical areas that may come up in the refugee process, given the challenges of supporting refugee claims, including with issues relating to central issues that must be established such as identity, credibility and admissibility of claimants.

The United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, born of compromise, is deliberately vague. As a result, there is rich debate within the academy and in the courts about who deserves refugee protection.  

This course will give an overview of Canadian refugee law, with a focus on the more heated aspects of this debate: Do people in danger have a duty to ask the authorities in their own country for help before seeking Canada's protection? If so, how poor must their country's response be before Canada is obliged to step in? Do claimants have a duty to ask for refugee protection in the first safe country that they reach, or at the first opportunity? How diligent must they be in bringing their claims forward? Students will come away with an understanding of the most important conversations taking place within the Canadian jurisprudence, and in particular, of the conflicting conceptual frameworks that underlie its deep divisions.  

The course will consider the criteria for refugee status in Canada as well as who is excluded from refugee status.  

Lastly, the course will consider a widely recognized problem within the Canadian refugee determination system. Refugee status decisions in Canada, and elsewhere, are characterized by enormous disparities in decision-maker's grant rates. Students will develop an understanding of what motivates the divisions in the jurisprudence, and how fact-finding operates in a refugee hearing. 

Class participation (10%); in-term reflection to be posted for discussion (1500 words) (30%); and a final 2-hour open book examination (60%).
Academic year
2022 - 2023

At a Glance

Second Term



20 JD


Th: 6:10 - 8:00 pm