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Law and Literature (LAWS50121)

Graduate coursework level 5Points: 12.5Not available in 2018

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Year of offerNot available in 2018
Subject levelGraduate coursework Level 5
Subject codeLAWS50121
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

The focus of the subject is the development of the student's understanding of their personal and professional perspectives on their relationship to law and the practice of law. Students will use the lens of literature of and about law to investigate and critically reflect on the complex problems and professional challenges of law and the practice of law. Through the selection of a wide range of texts including non-fiction, fiction, film, art, plays and music students will examine such issues as the relationship between personal beliefs and professional responsibilities, cause lawyering and the role of creativity, passion and initiative in the development of law.

This subject is intended to be a capstone experience requiring the completion or near completion of all compulsory law subjects. The analysis of the texts will require students to reflect on and evaluate the interactions and fault lines between areas of law that the students have studied as discrete law subjects. For example we may examine the interplay and clashes between equity, criminal law, torts, contract and professional ethics in The Merchant of Venice.

We will also consider how literature enhances our understanding of the role of law in society by examining law's contributions and failings. We will examine the ways in which the legal system has excluded the consideration of stories and views that literature considers critical to a full understanding of events and actions.

Students will study the main theoretical approaches to and recent developments in the use of literature as a tool to analyse and critique the legal system and the roles of lawyers.

Students will be required to articulate and explain their views in class participation, peer to peer learning and online media.

Intended learning outcomes

A student who has successfully completed this subject will:

  • Have an advanced and integrated understanding of professional and personal challenges in the practice of law;
  • Have an advanced knowledge of the main theoretical approaches to and recent developments in the use of literature as a tool to analyse and critique the legal system and the role of lawyers;
  • Be able to use cognitive, technical and creative skills to investigate, analyse and propose linkages between complex legal and ethical problems relevant to the practice of law; and
  • Be able to evaluate and articulate their personal approach to practical and theoretical legal issues that involve complex legal and ethical problems.

Generic skills

This subject will build on the research and writing skills developed within the JD program. In addition a student who has successfully completed the subject will be able to:

  • Analyse, critically reflect on and communicate their professional and personal perspectives and approaches to problems and professional challenges of law and the practice of law;
  • Evaluate and compare the perspectives of literature and the perspectives of law to issues such as morality, individual responsibility, crime and justice;
  • Recognise and propose connections between areas of law previously studied and themes present in works studied;
  • Apply theoretical approaches to the study and interpretation of legal themes in literature of and about law;
  • Articulate, discuss, reflect and explain in a range of written and oral forms their own perspectives and understanding of ways in which law does and does not adequately deal with social, political, economic and cultural issues; and
  • Be able to provide constructive, specific, balanced, thorough and respectful peer reviews of other students' work.

Eligibility and requirements


Successful completion of all the below subjects:

Code Name Teaching period Credit Points
LAWS50023 Legal Method and Reasoning
Summer Term
LAWS50024 Principles of Public Law
Semester 1
LAWS50025 Torts
Semester 1
LAWS50026 Obligations
Semester 1
LAWS50027 Dispute Resolution
Semester 1
LAWS50028 Constitutional Law
Semester 2
LAWS50029 Contracts
Semester 2
LAWS50030 Property
Semester 1
LAWS50031 Legal Theory
Semester 2
LAWS50032 Administrative Law
Semester 1



Non-allowed subjects


Core participation requirements

The University of Melbourne is committed to providing students with reasonable adjustments to assessment and participation under the Disability Standards for Education (2005), and the Assessment and Results Policy (MPF1326). Students are expected to meet the core participation requirements for their course. These can be viewed under Entry and Participation Requirements for the course outlines in the Handbook.

Further details on how to seek academic adjustments can be found on the Student Equity and Disability Support website: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/student-equity/home


Additional details

  • Draft essay (hurdle requirement);
  • Peer review of 2 draft essays, maximum 1,500 words total (30%). Students will not be marking other students' work. We will discuss the process and attributes of peer reviewing in our first classes;
  • Self-reflection on learning, maximum 500 words, to be submitted at the same time as the submission of the peer review essay outlines (10%);
  • Essay on a theme chosen by the student and approved by the lecturer, maximum 2,500 words (50%);
  • In class oral presentation of between 5-10 minutes including outline of main points, maximum 500 words (10%).

The due date of the above assessment will be available to students via the Assessment Schedule on the LMS Community.

Quotas apply to this subject

Dates & times

Not available in 2018

Time commitment details

144 hours

Additional delivery details

This subject has a quota of 60 students. Please refer to the Melbourne Law School website for the JD Quota Elective selection process.

Further information

  • Texts

    Prescribed texts

    • A selection of texts on current themes and core literature texts of and about law together with specialist printed materials to ensure that recent developments in the discipline and professional practice are considered;
    • Specialist printed materials will be made available from Melbourne Law School.
  • Available to Study Abroad and/or Study Exchange Students

    This subject is available to students studying at the University from eligible overseas institutions on exchange and study abroad. Students are required to satisfy any listed requirements, such as pre- and co-requisites, for enrolment in the subject.

Last updated: 24 August 2019