Law in Social Theory

Subject SOLS30001 (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 1, 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

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 1 x 1.5 hour lecture and 1 x 1 hour tutorial per week
Total Time Commitment: Not available
Prerequisites: Completion of at least 12.5 points at second year in Criminology or Sociology
Corequisites: none
Recommended Background Knowledge:

Level 1 subject 191-110 Law in Society

Level 2 subject 191-211 Law, Justice and Social Change

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 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 Disability Liaison Unit website:


Dr. Jennifer Balint

Subject Overview:

Law in Social Theory builds upon issues introduced in Law in Society, and Law, Justice and Social Change. It examines the theories of the function and role of law propounded by a range of social and legal theorists and movements, including Habermas, Bourdieu, Luhmann, critical legal studies, feminist legal theory, Derrida and others. Students examine these different theories of how law works and law"s role in relation to society. Each week, the potentials and limitations of these theories are considered in light of and tested against contemporary socio-legal problems selected by the students and the lecturer. Students conceptualise their chosen case study through the perspective of particular theorists. Case studies in the past have included the Ok Tedi Mining disaster, the David Hicks trial, asylum seekers, the Mabo decision, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the Oslo Peace Accords, spearing and Aboriginal customary law, corporate manslaughter, honour killings, the use of art experts in the courtroom, prostitution legislation. The purpose of the course is thus two-fold: to become familiar with different theories of the function of law in relation to society, and to consider the insight these theories bring to different socio-legal problems.

  • have knowledge of the theories of the role of law propounded by a range of social and legal theorists and theoretical movements.
  • consider the insight these theories bring, and their potentials and limitations, in relation to different socio-legal problems.
  • consider the use of theory in understanding law and its operation.
Assessment: Written assessment 30% (due during semester), a Class Presentation and Report 20% (due during semester) and a take home exam 50% (due during the examination Period).
Prescribed Texts:
  • An Introduction to Law and Social Theory, Reza Banakar and Max Travers ed, Oxford Hart Publishing, 2002.
Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • have highly developed cognitive, analytical and problem-solving skills.
  • have an advanced understanding of complex concepts and the ability to express them lucidly in writing and orally.
  • have sophisticated awareness of cultural, ethnic and gender diversities and their implications.
  • have an ability to plan work and to use time effectively.
Notes: Available as a Breadth subject to non-Bachelor of Arts students
Related Course(s): Bachelor of Public Policy and Management
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Anthropology and Social Theory
Criminology Major
Social Theory
Socio-legal Studies Major
Sociology Major

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