Not currently offered
Course code



10 units


6000 level

Course handbook


Over the past few decades, Australia has become increasingly integrated into the rapid transformation processes taking place in Asia. Knowledge of Asian legal systems is required to help governments, businesses and individuals to interact with counterparts in the legal sphere in specific Asian countries, including in relation to environmental and employment and human resources issues. Students in this course will be introduced to the development of the legal systems of Australia’s neighbouring countries. The course equips students with tools to prepare them to work and interact in this different environment. The course engages students through both an overview of the different types of legal systems in Asia and also in-depth studies into individual countries that represent those different types.


Not currently offered.

Learning outcomes

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

1. Understand the historical development of law in Asian developing countries, newly industrialised countries and in a developed economy.

2. Investigate, analyse and reflect meaningfully on what these different processes have in common and how legal developments have to be seen in the process of development strategies more broadly.

3. Critically assess the further development of the systems, their divergence or convergence at a regional level and the further prospects for ideals such as the rule of law.

4. Critically compare and contrast the pluralist nature of the systems, in which the state law may compete with religious and customary laws, and the interaction of the various elements of such pluralist systems.

5. Investigate, analyse and reflect meaningfully on the most pressing areas for law reforms, the progress of such reforms and the obstacles that reform movements have to overcome.

6. Differentiate among the institutional features of legal systems in various Asian countries, the role of the courts and the professions and other institutions and the similarities and differences with Australia.


The content in this course includes:

  • What is Asian Law? Historical developments.
  • The political economy of law in Asian countries: Law in the context of Asian development
  • Asian legal traditions and their transformations
  • Law, the environment and access to land and natural resources
  • People in Asia and their rights: minority rights, religious rights, freedom of expression)

Assumed knowledge

Students will be generally familiar with legal principles and structures. They will be expected to be proficient in reading and interpreting legislation.

Assessment items

Participation: In-class and online participation

Quiz: Quiz One

Quiz: Quiz Two

Written Assignment: Research Paper

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.