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Unit of study_

LAWS6848: Law, Business and Healthy Lifestyles

Intensive April, 2020 [Block mode] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

This unit is about legal and regulatory responses to tobacco use, obesity, poor diet, harmful use of alcohol and sedentary lifestyle - the leading causes of preventable disease in Australia, in high-income countries generally, and increasingly, in developing economies. Cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and tobacco-related diseases (known as 'non-communicable diseases' or NCDs) are society's greatest killers. But what can law do - and what should law be doing - to prevent them? Unlike other health threats, NCDs and their risk factors are partly caused by consumer choices that are lived out every day across the country. The challenge of encouraging healthier lifestyles cannot be separated, then, from the regulation of the businesses that all too often have a vested interest in unhealthy lifestyles. Law's relationship with smoking, alcohol and food is complex and contested. Nevertheless, governments around the world are experimenting with a wide range of legal strategies to encourage healthier lifestyles. This unit will focus on developments in Australia and the United States, placing legal developments in these countries in an international context. During the course, we will confront some important over-arching questions.� What are the global determinants of NCDs, and to what extent are global solutions needed? What do global solutions look like? To what extent should law intervene to influence the behaviour of populations-as distinct from treating lifestyle-related risk factors as the personal responsibility of each individual? Does a regulatory approach to the prevention of NCDs imply coercion? Does it signal the emergence of the 'nanny state'? Does progress depend on motivating people to consciously improve their habits and lifestyles? Is it possible to regulate business without micro-managing or dictating commercial decisions and 'legislating the recipe for tomato ketchup?' Throughout the unit, students will be encouraged to explore the tension between personal responsibility and freedom, and the broader public interest in a healthy population and a productive economy. Key topics include: Frameworks for thinking about law, and environments that support healthier lifestyles; Global health governance and the prevention of non-communicable diseases; Tobacco control: where to from here? Personal responsibility for health, and law's role; Regulating alcohol; Obesity prevention; and Law's role in improving diet and nutrition, and encouraging active living.

Unit details and rules

Unit code LAWS6848
Academic unit Law
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Roger Magnusson,
Type Description Weight Due Length
In-semester test Take-home exam
Online exam
0% -
Due date: 05 Jun 2020 at 17:00
Fri 29 May (9am) - Fri 5 June (5pm)
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment Research papers
Essay(s): weighted at 40%, 50%, 60% or 80%
0% Multiple weeks Variable
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Assignment Short responses
Written task
0% Week 05
Due date: 27 Mar 2020 at 17:00
2 March - 27 March 2020
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2

Assessment summary

This unit has a flexible assessment regime. Students must work through the following assessment matrix in order to come up with an assessment package that adds up to 100%.

Students who wish to submit the “short response”, or, alternatively, to do an in-class presentation, should refer to the matrix below:

Assessment element


Due date

1 X Short response question (formative assessment)


Fri 27 March 2020, 5pm

As an alternative to the short response: 1 X oral presentation (10-15 mins) (formative assessment)


Your presentation will be scheduled at an appropriate time during the intensive teaching days.  Limited presentation spots are available

AND EITHER (a),(b) or (c) below:

(a) 2 X research essays, 3000-3,500 words each

40% + 40%

Fri 15 May 2020 [Week 11] (1st essay);

Fri 29 May 2020 [Week 13] (2nd essay)

(b) 1 X research essay (3,000-3,500 words) + 1 X take-home exam question (there will be a choice of questions in the take-home exam)

40% + 40%

Fri 15 May 2020 [Week 11] (essay);

Take-home exam: Questions available: Fri 29 May 2020 [Week 13]; Answers due: Fri 5 June 2020

(c) 1 X long research essay (6,000 words)


Fri 22 May 2020 [Week 12]


Students who submit neither the short response, nor give an in-class presentation, should choose either (a) or (b) below:

Assessment element


Due date

(a) 2 X research essays, 4,000-4,500 words each

50% + 50%

Fri 15 May 2020 [Week 11] (1st essay);

Fri 29 May 2020 [Week 13] (2nd essay)

(b) 1 X research essay (4,000-4,500 words) + 1 X take-home exam question (there will be a choice of questions in the take-home exam)

60% + 40%

Fri 15 May 2020 [Week 11] (essay);

Take-home exam: Questions available: Fri 29 May 2020 [Week 13]; Answers due: Fri 5 June 2020


  • Short responses: The short responses aim to provide an opportunity for deep-level reflection on a specific issue considered in the unit and on course materials related to this issue. A key focus of the short responses is a clear understanding of the content of public health law. Due to the length of this assessment item, there is less opportunity for detailed evaluation and normative argument.
  • In-class presentation: As an alternative to the short response, limited spaces are available for students to do an in-class presentation on a topic falling within one of the modules. Limited places are available.  (Due to time constraints, students do not have a “right” to be assessed through an in-class presentation.)
  • Research papers: The research paper options provide space for students to engage in deeper level research into a doctrinal, theoretical or policy-related issue that comes within the ambit of the unit. Students are encouraged to draw on (and benefit from) the detailed lists of further reading available at the end of the online version of the readying guide/syllabus.  Students are expected to go beyond the unit materials and to conduct their own research from primary sources and secondary sources in order to thoroughly research the topic and develop a coherent framework, response or argument.
  • Take-home exam question: The take-home exam principally aims to develop and assess students’ skills in presenting a synthesis of the issues and principles that constitute the unit. Students are expected to evaluate legal materials, and to demonstrate their capacity for developing normative arguments about public health law. However, there is less expectation that students will engage in independent research from primary and secondary materials outside the scope of the unit.

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on 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.

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 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.
  • Demonstrates the minimum level of competence and satisfies the requirements to proceed to higher-level studies.


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

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, will attract a penalty of 10% of the total marks available for the piece of assessment per calendar day or part thereof.

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
- Frameworks for thinking about law, and environments that support healthier lifestyles Lecture and tutorial (4 hr)  
Global health governance and the prevention of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) Lecture and tutorial (4 hr)  
Tobacco control: where to from here? Lecture and tutorial (6 hr)  
Personal responsibility, risk factors, and regulation Lecture and tutorial (6 hr)  
Obesity prevention, diet-related risks, and active living Lecture and tutorial (6 hr)  

Attendance and class requirements

Attendance: All students are required to attend 70% of classes to satisfy the pass requirements for each unit of study. Failure to meet this requirement may result in a student being precluded from sitting the final assessment. For units offered in Intensive mode, participation in all scheduled sessions may be expected by a Unit Coordinator in order to satisfy the requirements of the unit.

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 bibliography; footnote numbers; footnote citation; cover page and include body text; headings and sub-headings; quotations; anything other than numbers and citations in footnotes.

Referencing: The Sydney Law School expects you to use the Australian Guide to Legal Citation (4th edition, 2018) for your footnoting style, although you should confirm this with your lecturer, and a link to the library website where this is set out comprehensively is available at

With the move to online delivery the Law School attendance requirement no longer applies. Students should refer to Canvas for details of class engagement in individual units of study.

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

All readings for this unit can be accessed through the Library eReserve, available on Canvas. Students will need to access the materials in real time during class. Students are encouraged to print their materials

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. Demonstrate an understanding of evolving legal responses to risk factors for non-communicable diseases – particularly tobacco use, obesity, poor diet, harmful use of alcohol and sedentary lifestyle, with particular attention to legal developments in the United States and Australia
  • LO2. Identify legal issues, apply legal principles and develop arguments that address specific regulatory challenges in the field of law and non-communicable diseases
  • LO3. Demonstrate an understanding of evolving governance structures for non-communicable diseases and their risk factors at the global level
  • LO4. Demonstrate an understanding of the contested role of law in prevention, and in the regulation of risk factors for non-communicable diseases
  • LO5. Critically evaluate the merits of legal strategies to prevent and control NCDs and their risk factors and to promote healthy lifestyles
  • LO6. Demonstrate the development of legal writing skills through critical reflection on the appropriate role of law in reducing risk factors for non-communicable diseases at the population level, with particular reference to legal developments in the United States and Australia

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.

No changes have been made since this unit was last offered


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

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