Law and Civil Society in Asia

Subject LAWS40019 (2012)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2012.

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

This subject is not offered in 2012.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: One 3-hour lecture/seminar per week.
Total Time Commitment: 144 hours.

Legal Method and Reasoning; Principles of Public Law; Torts; Legal Theory 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:


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

This subject analyses the concept of civil society as it relates to the legal systems of states in Northeast and Southeast Asia. This subject introduces and then critiques the concept of civil society and its applicability in contemporary Asian states.

This subject gives students an opportunity to develop a critical appreciation of the concept of civil society and how it is understood and experienced in some of the states in the Asian region. States selected for analysis may include: Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Vietnam, and Japan. Other Asian jurisdictions may also be examined.

This subject will then consider this concept with reference to the themes of gender relations; citizenship and its boundaries; technologies of political communications; the functions of court systems; labour organisations; professional organisations such as lawyers' and bar associations; and other civil society organisations.

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


After completing this subject students should be able to:

  • Describe the historical development of, and current ideas about, civil society in the Western political tradition;
  • Evaluate the applicability of differing ideas about civil society in contemporary Asian societies;
  • Discuss critically the extent to which the concept of civil society has utility in studying transformation in Asian states;
  • Describe and analyse the legal constructions and changing roles of civil society organisations in Asia – in particular organisations promoting civic engagement; the mass media; organisations to protect and promote the interests of workers; and legal professional associations;
  • Understand and describe the ways in which state law reflects social issues, implements policy and orders the activities of, and relations between, individuals, civil society organisations and the state in Asian jurisdictions studied in this course;
  • Demonstrate a capacity to locate and critically evaluate laws regulating civil society and civil society organisations;
  • Demonstrate a capacity to locate and critically evaluate materials about, and also generated by, civil society organisations in Asia.

Research essay of 5,000 words, 100% (due first day of the examination period) OR final examination of three hours, 100%.

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 foreign jurisdictions (in English);
  • Analyse the social and political issues facing cultures and make a critical and informed evaluation of the legal solutions offered in those cultures;
  • Effectively communicate their research conclusions both orally (in class discussion) and in writing.

Download PDF version.