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Privacy Law and Social Networks (BLAW20002)

Undergraduate level 2Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelUndergraduate Level 2
Subject codeBLAW20002
Summer Term
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

The limited protection of privacy for those who engage with online social networks has provoked a range of policy and law reform debates. This subject will delve deeply into the question of privacy law and social networks in an effort to explain and critique the current legal position as well as considering a range of proposals for improvements in the law.

Topics to be covered will include:

  • Introduction: privacy in a networked environment;
  • precursors: publication of diaries, letters, biographies, newspapers, photography, cinema, telephone, video and the rise of privacy;
  • traditional legal responses: the development of common law and statutory doctrines dealing with aspects of privacy protection (not always explicitly);
  • post-war pockets of specialised 'sui generis' laws including data protection, consumer protection, surveillance laws, and accompanying institutional innovations;
  • modern trends and controversies: rise of an online networked society and challenges to privacy, problems of multi-jurisdictional laws; and
  • imagining the future - what will be the role of law (and will it have a role)?

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this subject students should:

  • Recognise that privacy and social networks have various legal connection points;
  • appreciate the multiple ways in which privacy may be constrained and protected by the law, including in the context of social networks; and
  • understand the basic features of the legal treatment of privacy specifically in the context of social networks.

Generic skills

On completion of the subject the student should have:

  • Capacity for self-directed learning, specifically the ability to plan work and use time effectively;
  • cognitive and analytical skills;
  • the ability to speak about complex ideas in a clear and cogent manner;
  • an awareness of diversity and plurality;
  • write essays which develop structured argumentation; and
  • capacity to judge the worth of their own arguments.

Eligibility and requirements





Non-allowed subjects


Recommended background knowledge

It is strongly recommended that students have completed at least 100 points of undergraduate study before enrolling in this subject. The subject level is an indicator as to the difficulty of the subject and expected workload.

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



  • Tutorial attendance and participation (10%)
  • Writing exercise (1,000 words) (20%) due after the end of teaching
  • Reflective essay (3,000 words) (70%) due after the end of teaching

Dates & times

  • Summer Term
    Principal coordinatorMegan Richardson
    Mode of deliveryOn Campus — Parkville
    Contact hours30 hours (one 1.5-hour lecture and one 1.5-hour workshop per day)
    Total time commitment136 hours
    Pre teaching start date14 January 2019
    Pre teaching requirementsStudents are expected to access and review the Reading Guide that will be available from the LMS subject page and the subject materials provided by the subject coordinator, which will be available from the Co-op bookshop.
    Teaching period11 February 2019 to 22 February 2019
    Last self-enrol date18 January 2019
    Census date15 February 2019
    Last date to withdraw without fail22 February 2019
    Assessment period ends15 March 2019

    Summer Term contact information

Time commitment details

136 hours

Further information

  • Texts

    Prescribed texts

    • Printed subject materials will be available from the University Co-Op Bookshop.
  • Breadth options
  • Available through the Community Access Program

    About the Community Access Program (CAP)

    This subject is available through the Community Access Program (also called Single Subject Studies) which allows you to enrol in single subjects offered by the University of Melbourne, without the commitment required to complete a whole degree.

    Entry requirements including prerequisites may apply. Please refer to the CAP applications page for further information.

    Additional information for this subject

    If required, please contact law-admissions@unimelb.edu.au for subject coordinator approval.

  • 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: 28 May 2019