Not currently offered
Course code



10 units


5000 level

Course handbook


The course offers an overview of the interactions between law and religion. It lays the foundation for the area by discussing the historical connections between the development of the legal system and religion in the West, surveys major world religious perspectives on law, and then explores in more detail the classic issues of 'establishment' (to what extent is religion given, or should religion be given a privileged place in the law?) and 'free exercise' (how does the legal system acknowledge and uphold the right of free exercise of religion and balance that with other human rights?). It also explores some of the intersections between religion and other important legal areas such as criminal law and the law of private obligations.


Not currently offered.

This Course was last offered in Semester 1 - 2019.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate a developed knowledge and critical understanding of the topics covered in the course;

2. Demonstrate a developed capacity for critique on law and religion issues;

3. Demonstrate advanced skills in analysis of primary and secondary legal materials;

4. Demonstrate developed research skills for the preparation of oral and written arguments;

5. Demonstrate advanced written and oral communication skills.

6. Demonstrate ability to engage with those who have differing opinions on important issues in a professional and respectful way;

7. Demonstrate better understanding of their own presuppositions and developed skills in critical thinking which will allow them to effectively identify and evaluate the validity of these and those held by others.


This course includes the following topics: 

  1. Background of the Western legal system in religious perspectives.
  2. Comparison of world religious perspectives on the law.
  3. Establishment of religion issues: relationship of church and state in the UK and Australia, internal rules governing religious bodies, privileges given to religious institutions.
  4. Free exercise of religion: source of the right, nature of the "balancing process", intersection of freedom of religion with other fundamental human rights and general legal regulation of behaviour, area where religion has become "suspect".
  5. Intersections of religion with other areas: eg criminal, private law.
  6. Role of religion in the life of the lawyer.


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

LAWS1010, LAWS1011, LAWS1020, LAWS1021, LAWS2030, LAWS3040, and LAWS3041.

Assessment items

Written Assignment: Seminar Participation & Written reflection paper

Essay: Research Essay

Formal Examination: Final Examination

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.