Law and Society in Malaysia

Subject LAWS20001 (2011)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2011.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 2 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2011.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: One 2-hour lecture/seminar per week.
Total Time Commitment: 144 hours.

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



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

For the purposes of considering requests 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 providing support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website:


Melbourne Law School Student Centre
Tel: +61 3 8344 4475
Subject Overview:

This subject gives students the opportunity to develop an appreciation of the historical, political, economic, religious and social context of, and influences upon, the legal system of Malaysia and to reflect upon the commonalities with, and differences from, Australian legal institutions and practices. Topics will include: the colonial sources of Malaysian law; the administration of justice and the independence of the judiciary; the survival of customary law (adat) and the recognition of indigenous native title to land; the constitutional rights and preventive detention as a response to terrorism; relations between ethnic politics and the law; the administration of Islamic laws in a multi-cultural society; the Anwar Ibrahim trial and its consequences; non government organisations and agitation for law reform; and women's rights claims under a plural legal system.

Note: The essay in this subject is regarded as a substantial piece of legal writing.


Students who successfully complete this subject should be able to:

  • Locate and use a variety of Malaysian legal materials in a conventional library and using the Internet;
  • Evaluate critically Malaysian laws, policies and institutions;
  • Make relevant and appropriate comparisons with Australian (or other) legal systems, in order to analyse and evaluate the way in which the Malaysian legal system addresses current social, political, economic and religious issues.

Research Essay 5000 words (due first day of the examination period).

Prescribed Texts:

Printed materials will be available from the Melbourne Law School.

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;
  • The capacity to participate as a member of a team;
  • Intercultural sensitivity and understanding.

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

  • To locate, evaluate and use the legal (primary and secondary source) materials of a foreign jurisdiction (in English);
  • Analyse the social and political issues facing another culture and make a critical and informed evaluation of the legal solutions offered in that culture;
  • Effectively communicate their legal research conclusions both orally (in class discussion) and in writing.

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