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Legal Language (LAWS20008)

Undergraduate level 2Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelUndergraduate Level 2
Subject codeLAWS20008
Semester 1
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This subject explores the cultural and institutional languages of law. Law talks about itself in the language of rights and duties, authority and justice, property and persons and things. Our examples will focus on the ways in which this language is given institutional form (e.g. in courts or in cases or in specific procedures), and cultural expression (e.g. film and literature). Our guiding questions are: how are the languages of law spoken, by whom, where and with what effects? In sum, what we will study is the authority, procedure and conduct of law.

The subject proceeds by way of close reading of selected cases and judgments chosen to provide a representative sample of the main areas of legal practice and study, such as criminal law and torts, administrative law and native title, constitutional law and evidence, Australian law and international law. Throughout, the justice of the case will be evaluated.

Intended learning outcomes

A student who has successfully completed this subject should have an understanding of the foundations of law, how it is expressed and how it is represented in contemporary culture. Specifically, the student will be able to reflect on and evaluate:

  • Interdisciplinary approaches to law;
  • legal processes, procedures and methods;
  • the forms and idioms of legislation, judgment and testimony; The legal and cultural role of the lawyer;
  • the legal and cultural expression of rights, duties and the demands of justice; and
  • the distinction between private and public, domestic and international law.

In addition, a student will have obtained:

  • An appreciation of the distinctiveness of legal practices;
  • a knowledge of the basic divisions of legal subject areas;
  • in-depth knowledge of at least one case study discussed in the subject;
  • the ability to analyse legal problems from a variety of perspectives; and
  • the capacity to conduct independent research about law.

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;
  • 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.

Last updated: 11 October 2019