Bachelor of Laws

Unit outlines will be available through Find a unit outline two weeks before the first day of teaching for 1000-level and 5000-level units, or one week before the first day of teaching for all other units.

Not all units of study listed are offered in a given year. Please refer to the latest Sydney Law School lecture timetable.

Students are advised that given the current pandemic context, it may be necessary, at very short notice, to change unit of study details, including mode of delivery and assessment. Students should check unit of study details provided in the unit outline at the start of each unit of study and continue to check for any changes throughout the semester.

Part 2 - Jurisprudence Elective Units of Study

Students must successfully complete 42 credit points from the elective units of study including:
(a) a maximum of 36 credit points from Part 1 - Electives
(b) a minimum of 6 credit points from Part 2 - Jurisprudence
(c) no more than 24 credit points of Master's level electives

Part 2 - Jurisprudence Elective Units of Study

LAWS3447 Law and Economics

Credit points: 6 Teacher/Coordinator: Professor Patricia Apps Session: Semester 2 Classes: 2 x 2hr seminars/week for 10 weeks Prohibitions: LAWS5147 Assessment: 1000wd essay on a set problem (15%), take-home assignement (15%), class participation and presentation (10%) and 2hr exam (60%) Mode of delivery: Normal (lecture/lab/tutorial) day
Note: This unit satisfies the Jurisprudence/Part 2 requirement of the LLB.
The aim of the unit of study is to provide an understanding of the economic analysis of law and to clarify fundamental differences between legal argument and the analysis of public policy. The unit defines the role of government within the framework of welfare economics and examines the social and economic effects of legal regimes within that framework. Particular attention is given to the concept of a competitive market, to the available empirical evidence on market failure, and to the need for government intervention in response to market failure and its negative consequences for social justice. Topics covered include: theoretical concepts of social justice; social insurance; externalities and the environment; monopoly regulation, tort rights and remedies; asymmetric information, adverse selection and moral hazard with applications to medical malpractice; agency, corporate governance and managerial incentives; family law; taxation; and the measurement of inequality.
LAWS3454 Philosophy of Law

Credit points: 6 Teacher/Coordinator: Prof Wojciech Sadurski Session: Semester 2a Classes: 1 x 6hr seminar/wk for 7 weeks Prohibitions: LAWS3459 or LAWS5154 Assessment: Pre-course 2000wd reaction note (20%) class participation (20%), 4000wd take-home exam (60%). Mode of delivery: Normal (lecture/lab/tutorial) day
Note: This unit satisfies the Jurisprudence/Part 2 requirement of the LLB.
This unit of study will introduce the fundamental notions of jurisprudence understood as a theory about the aims, functions and values of law and legal system. It will aim to provide students with the critical understanding of the central issues in philosophy of law understood as a general, abstract, normative reflection on law as such rather than an examination of a concrete legal system. Nevertheless, the purpose will be to provide students with the conceptual means allowing them to conduct a critical scrutiny of particular legal systems and legal rules with which they are familiar. The course will consider, in particular (1) the notions of legitimacy, validity and authority of law; (2) the idea of rights and the nature of the rights discourse; (3) the justifications and limits of liberty rights; (4) the concept of justice, as applied to law, (5) the sources and limits of our obligation to obey the law, etc.
LAWS3468 Theories of Justice

Credit points: 6 Teacher/Coordinator: Dr Kevin Walton Session: Semester 1 Classes: 2x2hr seminars/week for 10 weeks Prohibitions: LAWS5168 Assessment: Structured class-participation (10%), reflections on readings (10%), 1500wd mid-semester essay (20%) and 4000wd final essay (60%) Mode of delivery: Normal (lecture/lab/tutorial) day
Note: This unit satisfies the Juriprudence/Part 2 requirement of the LLB.
This unit of study aims to provide students with a critical understanding of contemporary philosophical debates about justice. The unit focuses on liberal conceptions of justice and critiques thereof. It examines various moral values in terms of which the law might be assessed. The moral values that it considers include liberty, community, utility, fairness and equality. Among the themes that it explores are the limits of and connections between these ideals, the prospects for their realisation in contemporary societies as well as the politics with which each is associated.
LAWS3471 The Morality of Obeying the Law

Credit points: 6 Teacher/Coordinator: Dr Kevin Walton Session: Semester 1 Classes: 2x2hr seminars/week for 10 weeks Prohibitions: LAWS5171 Assessment: Structured class-participation (10%), reflections on readings (10%), 1500wd mid-semester essay (20%) and 4000wd final essay (60%) Mode of delivery: Normal (lecture/lab/tutorial) day
Note: This unit satisfies the Jurisprudence/Part 2 requirement of the LLB.
This unit asks whether obedience to legal norms is required by morality. It examines various arguments for a moral obligation to obey the law.
LAWS3475 Philosophy of International Law

Credit points: 6 Teacher/Coordinator: Dr Michael Sevel Session: Semester 2 Classes: 1 x 3hr seminar/week for 13 weeks Assessment: Class participation (10%), 1500wd mid-semester report (30%), and 4000wd essay (60%) Mode of delivery: Normal (lecture/lab/tutorial) evening
Note: This unit satisfies the Jurisprudence/Part 2 requirement of the LLB.
This course examines and evaluates traditional theories of law through the lens of their deployment in the changing context of world society and global governance. It has been supposed that there is no difference in kind between the law internal to a state, and that which exists in the global arena. But the rapid development of norms and institutions used in global governance over the last half century has cast doubt on this assumption. The course surveys leading theories of law and attempt to apply them to the vast and evolving array of international law-related activity. Topics include the nature and role of customary law, enforcement and compliance, transnational authority, 'hard' and 'soft' law, human rights, and international responsibility, among others.
LAWS3495 The Rule of Law and its Value

Credit points: 6 Teacher/Coordinator: Dr Michael Sevel Session: Semester 2 Classes: 2x2hr seminars/wk for 10 weeks Prohibitions: LAWS5195 Assessment: Class participation (10%), 1500wd mid-semester report (30%), and 4000wd essay (60%) Mode of delivery: Normal (lecture/lab/tutorial) day
Note: This unit satisfies the Jurisprudence/Part 2 requirement of the LLB.
This course will explore the nature and value of the rule of law through a critical examination of classical and contemporary writings in jurisprudence. Among the problems we will consider are: What features of a legal system contribute to bringing about the rule of law? What is 'legality'? What is the relationship between the rule of law and the rule of good law? Is it always a virtue, other things being equal, to apply valid legal rules? How far is the rule of law consistent with the indeterminacy of law or with discretionary decision-making? Is the rule of law an 'unqualified human good'? Why is it good? Should the rule of law ever be sacrificed for the sake of other goods? What does the World Justice Project Rule of Law Index measure? Is it defensible from a jurisprudential point of view, and useful in determining the nature and value of the rule of law? Readings will include historical sources from the ancient Greek and early modern periods, contemporary essays in legal, moral, and political theory, and other primary legal sources.
LAWS3500 Law, Morals and Politics

Credit points: 6 Teacher/Coordinator: Dr Arthur Glass Session: Semester 1 Classes: 2x2hr seminars/wk for 10 weeks Prohibitions: LAWS5200 Assessment: Class-participation (10%) and 1500wd mid-semester paper (30%) and 3500wd essay (60%) Mode of delivery: Normal (lecture/lab/tutorial) day
Note: Department permission required for enrolment
Note: This unit satisfies the Part 2/Jurisprudence requirement of the LLB.
This unit reflects on the ways in which law, morals and politics are thought of within our tradition and in particular the connections and the tensions between legal positivism, Kantianism and liberalism.
LAWS3517 The History of Legal Thought

Credit points: 6 Teacher/Coordinator: Dr Coel Kirkby Session: Semester 1 Classes: 2 x 2hr seminars/wk Assessment: 1500wd reflective essay (20%) and 4500wd research essay (80%) Mode of delivery: Normal (lecture/lab/tutorial) day
This unit of study introduces the history of legal theory through a critical analysis of the central debates in jurisprudence over the last two centuries. Students will read canonical Anglo-American legal thinkers (like Jeremy Bentham, H. L. A. Hart and John Finnis) and their contemporary interlocutors (like Ram Mohan Roy, Karl Marx and Marcia Langton). The unit situates each debate in its historical context exploring themes ranging from socialism versus capitalism, revolution versus reaction, and 'race' and 'sex'. For example, students will study how the Hart-Devlin debate (1957-65) connected the policing of homosexuality in 'Swinging London' to the policing of black bodies in colonial Africa. Students will develop skills as critical legal thinkers and intellectual historians that will assist them as lawyers engaged in contemporary Australian and international debates on the nature and future of law. This unit satisfies the Part 2 (Jurisprudence) requirement of the LLB.
LAWS3522 Rights

Credit points: 6 Teacher/Coordinator: Dr Kevin Walton Session: Semester 2 Classes: 2 x 2hr seminars/wk for 10 weeks Prohibitions: LAWS5222 Assessment: Class participation (20%), 1500wd short essay (20%) and 4000wd research essay (60%) Mode of delivery: Normal (lecture/lab/tutorial) day
Note: This unit satisfies the Part 2/Jurisprudence requirement of the LLB.
This unit of study seeks to enable reflection on rights, including legal, moral, political, and human rights. It considers philosophical work on their nature, their holders, their subject-matter, and their justification. It examines what they are, who can have them, what they concern, and what grounds them.

Part 2 Masters's Level Jurisprudence Electives

JURS6018 Constitutional Theory

Credit points: 6 Teacher/Coordinator: Prof Wojciech Sadurski Session: Intensive September Classes: Aug 13, 14 and Sep 3, 4 (9-5) Assessment: Options: (i) class participation (20%), oral presentation (20%) and 4500wd essay (60%) or (ii) class participation (20%), 2 x oral presentations (20% each) and 3000wd essay (40%) Mode of delivery: Block mode
Note: Academic Profile https://sydney.edu.au/law/about/people/list.php. The unit is also available on a Continuing Professional Development basis https://sydney.edu.au/law/study-law/continuing-professional-development.html
This unit will address the role that constitutionalism is expected to play in a democratic state, and will explore various constitutional theories. The main focus will be on theoretical attempts at reconciling commitments to constitutionalism with emphasis on democratic participation: Is it paradoxical that a state governed by majority rules withdraws certain areas from collective decision-making? Various theories of constitutionalism, of constitutional interpretation, and of constitutional judicial review will be explored. The unit will also discuss the question of constitutional charters of rights, different models of judicial review, separation of powers, direct democracy and the functions of constitutions in transitions to democratic systems. The unit will follow a seminar format with the emphasis on class discussion of unit materials. First two days will be focused on the instructor's lectures while two remaining days on students' presentations.
LAWS6316 Theories of the Judiciary

Credit points: 6 Teacher/Coordinator: Dr Michael Sevel Session: Intensive June Classes: May 21, 22 and 28, 29 (9-5) Assessment: class presentation (20%) and 7500wd essay (80%) Mode of delivery: Block mode
Note: Academic Profile https://sydney.edu.au/law/about/people/list.php. The unit is also available on a Continuing Professional Development basis https://sydney.edu.au/law/study-law/continuing-professional-development.html
The judge has long been an important legal actor in common law countries, but over the past several decades, there has been a rise in judicial power globally, with the proliferation of constitutional courts and the strengthening of judiciaries in countries around the world. This seminar will consider views in jurisprudence which examines the judge, the activity of judging, and the proper role of the judiciary within a legal system and a just society more generally. Among the goals of the seminar are to determine the nature of judicial obligation, how judges ought to decide cases, the arguments for and against judicial review, the role of the judiciary in establishing and maintaining the rule of law, and the relation between the business of courts, politics, and morality.
LAWS6338 The Nature of the Common Law

Credit points: 6 Teacher/Coordinator: Dr Michael Sevel Session: Intensive June Classes: May 7, 8 and 14, 15 (9-5) Assessment: Option 1: assignment (20%) and 7000wd essay (80%) or Option 2: 8000wd essay (100%) Mode of delivery: Block mode
Note: Academic Profile https://sydney.edu.au/law/about/people/list.php. The unit is also available on a Continuing Professional Development basis https://sydney.edu.au/law/study-law/continuing-professional-development.html
The common law is an essential part of the Australian legal system, as well as many others around the world. This unit of study examines the nature of the common law from the point of view of jurisprudence. We will begin with a survey of the classic Common Law Theories developed in England during the seventeenth century; from there, a variety of problems surrounding the common law which these theories made salient, and which still puzzle us today, will be examined. Topics include: the nature and authority of precedent, the distinctiveness of legal reasoning, the nature and questions surrounding the validity of customary law, the relation between the common law and the ideal of the rule of law, among others.
LAWS6827 Legal Responsibility and Philosophy of Mind

Credit points: 6 Teacher/Coordinator: Adj Prof Christopher Birch Session: Semester 2 Classes: 1x2hr lecture/week Assessment: class participation exercise (20%) and 6000wd essay (80%) Mode of delivery: Normal (lecture/lab/tutorial) evening
Note: Academic Profile https://sydney.edu.au/law/about/our-visitors.html. The unit is also available on a Continuing Professional Development basis https://sydney.edu.au/law/study-law/continuing-professional-development.html
Many legal doctrines in both criminal and civil law depend upon being able to characterise conduct as intentional leading to ascriptions of fault blame or responsibility. Most serious criminal offences depend upon establishing mens rea as a relevant mental element. Civil liability is often dependent upon whether conduct was intended or whether the cause of loss was brought about by either intentional conduct or conduct involving some lesser notion of fault. All of these doctrines make important assumptions about the nature of our mental states and the operation of mind. Many of these assumptions are philosophically controversial and current developments in the philosophy of mind may lead us to reconsider or radically revise our attitudes to the law. The unit will look at contemporary philosophical work on free will consciousness mind and causation and apply this work to present problems in regard to concepts of legal responsibility.
Textbooks
Lowe EJ An Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind Cambridge UP Cambridge 2000