Legal Theory

Course code LAWS5030
Available in 2016
2016 Course Timetables


This course is different from the other courses that make up the LLB program. It is designed to facilitate students' thinking about law in general rather than learning detailed analysis of the legislation and cases consigned to a particular area of law. It will require students critically to consider the nature of law, its role in society, and various perspectives on and critiques of law.

This subject focuses on major theoretical traditions which have influenced the development of the Australian legal system and the broader Western legal tradition. The aim is for some level of depth rather than mere breadth, with an emphasis on analysis of primary theoretical literature and case studies.



  • Semester 2 - 2016

Learning Outcomes

1. Demonstrate, orally and in writing, a critical understanding of major schools of legal theory which have influenced the development of the Western legal tradition and the Australian legal system.

2. Critically evaluate multiple and contrasting perspectives on law and engage in open-minded academic discussion of them in an applied context.

3. Critically analyse the relationship between law and society from a variety of legal theoretical perspectives.

4. Reflect on the significance of notions of rights and justice to the operation of law.

5. Conduct high-level research, exploring primary and secondary materials, and provide critical analysis of problems and questions.

6. Prepare and present cogent arguments, orally and in writing, and make productive contributions to class discussions.


Introduction to Legal Theory (1 week)
Module 1 (4 weeks): Legal Positivism (2 weeks); Natural Law Theory and Anti-Positivism (2 weeks)
Module 2 (4 weeks): Rights and the Law (2 weeks); Justice and the Law (2 weeks)
Module 3 (3 weeks): Critical theories of law (2 weeks); Economic theories of law (1 week)


This course is only available to students enrolled in the Bachelor of Laws and associated combined degree programs or Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and associated combined degree programs.

Assumed Knowledge

LAWS1001A, LAWS1001B, LAWS1002A, LAWS1002B, LAWS2003A, LAWS2003B, LAWS3004A, LAWS3004B, LAWS3005B, LAWS4011

Assessment Items

Written Assignment: Briefing Papers

Essay: Research Essay

Formal Examination: Open Book Examination

Contact Hours



Face to Face On Campus 3 hour(s) per Week for Full Term