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The focus of the subject is on freedom of speech, media freedom and the law. The first part of the course looks at the key theories and writings about freedom of speech and media freedom. It then considers the legal protection of, and cultural attitudes towards, freedom of speech and media freedom across a range of jurisdictions (including Australia, the UK, the US and Continental Europe), with particular attention given to different constitutional and human rights contexts. The second part of the course explores media freedom and freedom of speech through a series of comparative case studies that focus on specific areas of legal restraint on media freedom - for example, hate speech (racial and religious vilification), restrictions on offensive publications, national security and sedition, issues regarding newsgathering, protection of journalists' sources, freedom of information (FOI) and access to documents, and media regulation.
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject will:
- Have a detailed, advanced and critical understanding of theories of freedom of speech and media freedom;
- Have a detailed, advanced and critical understanding of the legal protections of freedom of speech and media freedom across a range of different jurisdictions;
- Have an advanced knowledge of the constitutional and human rights contexts in which freedom of speech and media freedom receive legal protection;
- Be able to reflect upon, in a highly advanced and critical way, the various constraints imposed upon freedom of speech across a range of different jurisdictions; and
- Be able to express, in written form, advanced arguments regarding the theoretical underpinnings of freedom of the media and the legal constraints imposed upon freedom of speech across a range of different jurisdictions, using appropriate comparative techniques.
On completion of this subject, students will have demonstrated the ability to:
- Understand and critically reflect upon the principal theoretical material regarding freedom of speech and media freedom;
- Understand and critically reflect upon the legal restraints imposed on freedom of speech and media freedom;
- Critically analyse legal and scholarly developments in the area of freedom of speech and media freedom; and
- Communicate their analysis of the law and legal developments in appropriate written forms.
Last updated: 11 February 2021