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Socio-Legal Studies

About the major

Socio-Legal Studies is the study of legal ideas, practices and institutions in their social, cultural and historical contexts. In this program of study, you will examine the institutions that make and enforce laws –parliament, the courts and the police. You will also study how policy is developed and implemented in relation to law and social justice issues. Throughout the major you will learn about legal practices across a diverse range of topics. These include arrest and imprisonment, Indigenous peoples' experience of law and policing, how law has shaped the LGBTIQA+ communities, surveillance and the development of human rights. Throughout, consider the broader question of what constitutes 'justice'.

In your first-year units you will be introduced to the key ideas and concepts that socio-legal scholars have developed to help understand the world. You will gain an understanding of the foundations of the Australian legal system and examine how law and society interacts by engaging with contemporary socio-legal issues. You will also become familiar with the methods and techniques that will enable you to undertake your own research. Your senior units will consolidate your grasp of theory, research methods and enable you to analyse particular socio-legal studies topics and issues. These include, the philosophy of law and justice, gender and the law, race, law and human rights, animals and the environment and law, the changing international regime of human rights and enforcement, social movement activism and forms of law and policing. 

You will engage with these aspects of socio-legal studies in lectures and tutorials, but also in the real world. You will learn to write and think in socio-legal terms using essays, reports, oral group work, posters, debates, and new social media.

Requirements for completion

The Socio-legal Studies major and minor requirements are listed in the Socio-legal Studies unit of study table.

Advanced coursework

Requirements and units of study for advanced coursework can be found on the advanced coursework units of study page.


The one year Socio-Legal Studies Honours program is designed for students who are interested in studying and understanding legal ideas, institutions and practices from the perspectives of the humanities and social sciences. It provides an opportunity to engage with the ever-changing relationship between law and society. The program consists of two advanced level seminar courses and the preparation of an honours thesis based on original research on a topic of the student’s choice. The Socio-Legal Studies honours thesis is an independent research project that is planned and completed under supervision and guidance of a member of the Discipline. Socio-Legal Studies Honours offers high achieving students the opportunity to develop superior research, writing and communication skills, which prepares graduates for careers in research, policy and related areas. It also provides a pathway into postgraduate study.

Honours admission requirements

Admission to honours is via the Bachelor of Advanced Studies or Bachelor of Arts (Honours) and requires the completion of a major in Socio-legal Studies with an average of 70% or above.

Prior to commencing honours, you will need to ensure you have completed all other requirements of the Bachelor of Arts or other bachelor degree, including Open Learning Environment (OLE) units and, where undertaking the Bachelor of Advanced Studies, a second major.

Requirements and units of study for honours can be found on the Socio-legal Studies honours units of study page.

Contacts and further information