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Unit of study_

LAWS3510: Law Reform

Semester 2, 2022 [Normal evening] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

This unit examines the theory, process and practice of pursuing reform to law, from government institutions to non-government agencies, and from courts to protest, across related disciplines of law, sociology, political science, and communications. Class learning is applied to current law reform projects, working in partnership with public and community sector agencies. The unit addresses many of the Law School's LLB and JD Course Learning Outcomes, and the University's Graduate Qualities, in particular critical thinking and problem solving, inventiveness, oral and written communication, and influence.

Unit details and rules

Unit code LAWS3510
Academic unit Law
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Simon Rice,
Lecturer(s) Simon Rice,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Participation Unit participation
Online posts for alternating classes; discussion and group work each class
20% Multiple weeks Bi-weekly, on a roster
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment Reflection
Personally reflect on changing insights and perspectives on law and society
10% Week 07
Due date: 23 Sep 2022 at 00:00

Closing date: 10 Oct 2022
750 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO5 LO6
Assignment Field report
Attend/observe/participate in and evaluate an actual law reform activity
20% Week 10
Due date: 10 Oct 2022 at 12:00

Closing date: 06 Nov 2022
1500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3
Assignment group assignment Law Reform Strategy Analysis
Design and analysis of an NGO's law reform strategy
50% Week 13
Due date: 06 Nov 2022 at 00:00

Closing date: 26 Nov 2022
4000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
group assignment = group assignment ?

Assessment summary

  • Unit participation: Six times during the semester, in alternating weeks, you must make at least one discussion post, before the class, commenting on that class’s reading or responding to another student’s comment for that class. Over the semester, I will assess this activity, and your participation in class against a marking rubric which I will publish in Canvas.  In mid-semester you will have the opportunity for self-assessment, on which I will comment, in order to assist your progress.
  • Reflection: Reflective writing can help you to learn better, and help you to a deeper and more critical engagement with the subject matter. This is not a research essay. You will record your own ideas and thoughts: whether and how they have altered, and the direction they are taking, in light of the reading and the class discussion so far. I will assess this against a marking rubric which I will publish in Canvas. 
  • Field report: You will go into the field – that is, not be in the classroom – to ‘observe law reform’ (and take part if the opportunity arises), and to analyse what you see with reference to topics, readings and discussions in class and on line. I will assess this against a marking rubric which I will publish in Canvas. 
  • Law Reform Strategy Analysis: Working in small teams, in partnership with a community legal centre on an actual law reform campaign, you will work with fellow students to apply what you learn, an exercise in experiential learning that is much more effective than the conventional classroom in giving you a deep and lasting understanding of the subject matter. I will assess this against a marking rubric which I will publish in Canvas. 

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

This gernal guide will be reflected in a more detailed assessment rubric tailored to each assessment task.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

  • Completely answers the question.
  • Contains striking originality of approach or analysis.
  • Demonstrates exhaustive or innovative research (where independent research required).
  • Exceptionally well written, structured and expressed.
  • Is otherwise exceptional in some way.


75 - 84

  • Completely answers the question.
  • Achieves a critical and evaluative approach to the issues.
  • Content and structure is well organised in support of the argument.
  • Demonstrates extensive research and analysis to support a well-documented argument.
  • Generally well expressed and free from errors.
  • Has a clear structure and is well articulated.


65 - 74

  • Covers main issues fairly well in answering the question.
  • Contains no significant errors.
  • Demonstrates an attempted critical approach to the issues.
  • Demonstrates reasonably sound research and analysis in addressing the key issues.
  • Has a clear structure and reasonably clear expression.


50 - 64

  • Identifies the key issues, but does not follow through with a reasoned argument.
  • Contains some significant errors.
  • Displays satisfactory engagement with the key issues.
  • Offers a descriptive summary of material relevant to the question.
  • Superficial use of material, and may display a tendency to paraphrase.
  • Demonstrates little evidence of in-depth research or analysis.
  • Adequate expression.
  • Overall, demonstrates the minimum level of competence in the assessment and satisfies the requirements to proceed to higher-level studies in the degree or subject area.


0 - 49

  • Does not answer the question.
  • Contains significant or numerous errors.
  • Few or no identifiable arguments.
  • Content that is inappropriate or irrelevant.
  • Lack of research or analysis.
  • Difficult or impossible to understand through poor grammar, expression or structure.
  • Overall, does not demonstrate the minimum level of competence in the assessment.

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

This unit has an exception to the standard University policy or supplementary information has been provided by the unit coordinator. This information is displayed below:

The late submission of a piece of assessment, which has not been granted an extension prior to the due date, will attract a penalty of: - 10% of the total marks available for the piece of assessment if it is up to 24 hours late - 20% if it is 24-48 hours late, and - 30% if it is 48-72 hours late. A piece of assessment submitted more than 72 hours late without an extension will not be marked and will be awarded a fail grade.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Introduction Seminar (3 hr) LO1 LO2
Week 02 Theory Seminar (3 hr) LO1 LO4
Week 03 Policy Seminar (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4
Week 04 Legislation Seminar (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4
Week 05 Lobbying Seminar (3 hr) LO2 LO3 LO6
Week 06 Committees and Inquiries Seminar (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6
Week 07 Evidence Seminar (3 hr) LO2 LO4
Week 08 Litigation Seminar (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 09 Mobilisation Seminar (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 10 Media Seminar (3 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 11 Human Rights Seminar (3 hr) LO2 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 12 Lawyers Seminar (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 13 Presentations Seminar (3 hr) LO4 LO5 LO6

Attendance and class requirements

It is a Resolution of the Law School that

  • You must attend 70% of classes to satisfy the pass requirements for this unit of study. (There are 13 classes in this unit; you must attend at least nine).
  • If you fail to meet this requirement you may be precluded from submitting the take home assignment, and be discontinued from the unit of study. (This would result in your receiving an Absent Fail or Discontinue – Fail grade).
  • The attendance requirement reduced or waived by me only if you provide satisfactory evidence of compelling grounds for your non-attendance, such as sudden illness or serious misadventure. (You should seek this from me in advance or at the soonest opportunity).

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

Weekly readings are listed in the Reading Guide and on the Reading List link to Leganto, both on the unit Canvas site.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. show an appreciation of the theoretical underpinnings, and political dimensions, of issues of law reform
  • LO2. show an advanced ability to engage in analysis of law, policy and reform from a range of critical perspectives
  • LO3. show an advanced ability to identify and respond to legal ethical issues
  • LO4. show well developed skills in communication, collaboration, and group work
  • LO5. show a well developed capacity for reflective practice
  • LO6. express new personal insights into personal and professional direction and development

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

Revised readings (institutions), topics (policy), class activity (group work) and assessment instructions
  • Word count penalty: A piece of assessment which exceeds the prescribed word limit will attract a penalty of 10% of the total marks available for the piece of assessment for every 100 words, or part thereof. The total word count for essay and other written assessments will exclude headings and sub-headings, bibliography, and footnotes (which will have no narrative text).  Word count will include body text, quotations, and anything other than numbers and citations in footnotes. Some assessment tasks will not require bibliography or footnotes.
  • Referencing: The Sydney Law School expects you to use the Australian Guide to Legal Citation (4th edition, 2018) for your footnoting style when an assessment task requires formal referencing.

Site visit guidelines

At a time of their choosing, before the due date of 10 October (week 10) students will attend and observe a law reform activity; students will be helped to identify possible activities. For this activity students are covered by the University's Public Liability Insurance.


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.