Media Law

Subject LAWS40016 (2011)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2011.

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

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2011:

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

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: Three hours of lectures/seminars per week.
Total Time Commitment: 120 hours.

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

Corequisites: None.
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:


Ms Jessica Lake


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

Media Law examines three legal areas that affect the content of media publications: contempt of court, defamation and privacy. These areas of law are not directed solely at the media, but the media are a particularly important site for their operation and they comprise a major aspect of law’s relation to mediated communication, journalism and news production. The subject takes a comparative approach to some topics, especially to privacy law.


When you complete this subject, you should be able to:

  • Apply a range of theoretical approaches to free speech and the media;
  • Demonstrate your knowledge of Australian law about contempt of court, including principles connected with open justice, access to courts and suppression orders, sub judice contempt, scandalising the court, revealing jurors’ deliberations and journalists’ sources;
  • Evaluate suggestions for reforming aspects of contempt law;
  • Demonstrate a detailed working knowledge of Australian defamation law and its application to hypothetical situations;
  • Argue for any appropriate reforms to Australian defamation law;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of comparative approaches to privacy and their historical origin;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of Australian privacy law in practice;
  • Argue for particular developments or reforms in privacy law.

A final examination of 3 hours (100%)


A research essay of 5,000 words (100%)

Prescribed Texts:
  • David Rolph, Matt Vitins, and Judith Bannister, Media Law: Cases, Materials and Commentary (Oxford University Press, 2010);
  • 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:

  • Critical reading and analysis - reading and analysing cases, statutes and commentary from Australian and comparative jurisdictions and from a variety of disciplinary perspectives; identifying legal judgments' central aspects and reconciling differing legal decisions; and evaluating varied approaches to legal issues;
  • Hypothetical problem solving - including the ability to identify and analyse legal issues that arise in complex fact situations;
  • Communication skills - developed written skills in two areas: extended legal writing in exam or research essay form.

This subject has a quota of 40. Please contact the Law Student Centre for enrolment information.

The research essay in this subject is regarded as a substantial piece of legal writing for honours purposes.

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