Communications Law

Subject 730-364 (2009)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2009. Search for this in the current handbook

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 4 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2009.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: One 3-hour seminar per week
Total Time Commitment: Estimated total time commitment of 120 hours.

Legal Method and Reasoning; Principles of Public Law; Torts; Legal Theory; Obligations; Contracts or in each case their equivalents.

Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support:

Subject Overview:

Communications Law introduces students to the regulatory framework governing broadcasting and telecommunications in Australia. It focuses on selected topics within three broad areas: broadcasting, telecommunications and the internet. The regulatory frameworks covering these areas are examined in light of the historical policy goals of regulation, legal approaches to freedom of speech, and key works in the extensive literature from media studies and related fields outside law. Example topics include:

· overview of broadcasting, telecommunications and internet industries;

· traditional justifications for communications regulation and legal approaches to speech;

· other disciplinary approaches to communications industries, audiences and regulation;

· self-regulatory models for communications;

· media ownership and control;

· content regulation and classification schemes;

· public broadcasting;

· digital broadcasting;

· access to telecommunications; and

· internet communications regulation.


When students complete this subject, they should be able to:

- Critically compare major approaches to regulating communications.

- Apply a range of comparative, historical and theoretical approaches to regulating communications, which draws on varied legal approaches to free speech and engages with approaches to communications theory media studies and related academic fields.

- Demonstrate their understanding of Australian law and policy related to central aspects of communications, including principles connected with media ownership and control, content regulation and classification, public broadcasting and digital broadcasting.

- Evaluate key policy issues facing Australian communications law in comparative, historical, theoretical and interdisciplinary terms.

- Argue for particular regulatory strategies, given the changing environment of digital communications, taking support from legal approaches to speech and from conceptual approaches in media studies.


Students are able to choose between two forms of assessment: 1000 word reflective essay due mid semester (10%); and final examination 2 hours (90%) OR 1000 word reflective essay due mid semester (10%); and research essay 4000–4500 words due during the final examination period (90%).

Prescribed Texts:

Printed materials will be issued by the Faculty of Law.

Recommended Texts:

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

On completion of the subject, students should have developed the following generic skills:

  • attitudes towards knowledge that include valuing truth, openness to new ideas and ethics associated with knowledge creation and usage
  • the capacity for close reading and analysis of a range of sources
  • the capacity for critical and independent thought and reflection
  • the capacity to solve problems, including through the collection and evaluation of information
  • the capacity to communicate, both orally and in writing
  • the capacity to plan and manage time
  • intercultural sensitivity and understanding

In addition, on completion of the subject, students should have developed the following skills specific to the discipline of law:

  • Critical reading and analysis - reading and analysing cases, statutes and commentary from Australia and comparative jurisdictions and from varied academic disciplines related to media and communications; identifying central aspects of judgments, regulatory policies and academic commentaries; and evaluating varied approaches to legal issues and theories about speech and communications.
  • Communication skills - developed written communications skills in two areas: concise and engaged analysis of commentary from law and other academic fields related to media and communications; and extended legal writing in exam or research essay form.
  • Communication skills - developed oral communication skills through participation in seminar discussion and analysis.

Download PDF version.