Media Law

Subject MECM30005 (2010)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2010.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 3 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2010:

Semester 2, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

On Campus

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 3 A 1-hour lecture and a 2-hour seminar per week.
Total Time Commitment: 102
Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: 100-223 Media Law; 730-348 Media Law
Core Participation Requirements: For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry. The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the 3Disability Liaison Unit website: 4


Prof Sean Cubitt


Sean Cubitt

Subject Overview:

This subject introduces students to the main areas of law affecting people working in the media. These include copyright, privacy, laws restricting speech, such as defamation, censorship, and vilification, laws affecting advertisers, freedom of information, and the ethical codes applying to journalists and others. The course emphasises practicality and problem-solving. The focus is on Australian laws but international comparisons will be drawn.

Objectives: Students who complete this subject will:
  • be able to explain how laws in Australia are made, changed and applied;
  • be able to recognise when a matter arising through work as a media practitioner raises legal issues;
  • be able to know or find laws or legal principles relevant to matters arising in their work in media and communications;
  • be able to seek legal advice, if necessary, from appropriate sources;
  • be able to apply their own knowledge and that of legal advisors to deal with matters having legal implications;
  • be able to critically analyse the appropriateness of existing laws and present arguments for their reform.
Assessment: Copyright and defamation problem of 2000 words 50% (due week 8), joint tutorial presentation and supporting paper of 800 words 20% (due during semester), opinion piece of 1200 words (800 word article and 400 word summary of references) 20% (due week 12) and tutorial participation 10%. Students must attend at least 80% of classes to be eligible for assessment. Note: Assessment submitted late without an approved formal extension will be penalised at 2% per day. Students who fail to submit up to 2-weeks after the final due date without a formal extension and special consideration will receive a fail grade for the piece of assessment.
Prescribed Texts:

A subject reader will be available.

  • The Journalist"s Guide to Media Law: Dealing with Legal and Ethical Issues (M Pearson) Allen and Unwin 2004
Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills: Students who successfully complete this subject will:
  • be able to present information and arguments clearly and concisely to an audience and in writing;
  • be able to analyse an issue from the perspective of stakeholders whose interests they may not share or endorse;
  • be able to participate in discussion and group activities and be sensitive to the participation of others.
Notes: Students who have completed 100-223 Media Law are not permitted to enrol in this subject. This subject is only available to students enrolled in the BA (Media and Communications) and BA (Media and Communications/Bachelor of Commerce. Students who have completed 730-348 are not eligible to enrol in this subject. This subject is not available to students enrolled in the BA (Media and Communications)/Bachelor of Laws combined degree. Students who have completed 100-223 Media Law are not eligible to enrol in this subject.
Related Course(s): Bachelor of Arts(Media and Communications)
Bachelor of Arts(Media and Communications) & Bachelor of Commerce

Download PDF version.