Globalisation and Limits of Sovereignty

Subject LAWS70359 (2013)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2013.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 7 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2013:

May, 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: The total class time is between 24 and 26 hours.
Total Time Commitment: Not available
Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:

Applicants without legal qualifications should note that subjects are offered in the discipline of law at an advanced graduate level. While every effort will be made to meet the needs of students trained in other fields, concessions will not be made in the general level of instruction or assessment. Most subjects assume the knowledge usually acquired in a degree in law (LLB, JD or equivalent). Applicants should note that admission to some subjects in the Melbourne Law Masters will be dependent upon the individual applicant’s educational background and professional experience.

Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

The Melbourne Law Masters welcomes applications from students with disabilities. The inherent academic requirements for study in the Melbourne Law Masters are:

  • The ability to attend a minimum of 75% of classes and actively engage in the analysis and critique of complex materials and debate;
  • The ability to read, analyse and comprehend complex written legal materials and complex interdisciplinary materials;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate in writing a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and to critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate orally a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to work independently and as a part of a group;
  • The ability to present orally and in writing legal analysis to a professional standard.

Students who feel their disability will inhibit them from meeting these inherent academic requirements are encouraged to contact the Disability Liaison Unit:


For more information, contact the Melbourne Law Masters office.

Phone: +61 3 8344 6190

Subject Overview:

This subject examines transformations in the nature of sovereignty in a globalised world. The sovereignty of the nation state has not disappeared – but it faces numerous regulatory and governmental limits in grappling with transnational flows of capital, people, technology and phenomena such as climate change or political violence. How do these transformations manifest themselves in law?

What are the governmental and juridical responses to them? Drawing on social and political theory, the course will examine the emergence of multi-ethnic and multicultural societies, post-colonial legal orders and post-national legal frameworks such as the European Union (EU). These developments have challenged the coherence of modern legal and democratic institutions that were conceived as bounded and homogenous. There is a crisis of authority and representation in dealing with global challenges and crises. Drawing on a range of theoretical perspectives on democracy and recent scholarship in cultural studies, anthropology and political theory, the subject will examine the tension between the modern State and alternative normative frameworks and systems of rules.

Principal topics will include:

  • The limits of sovereignty – e.g. the EU; global economic crises, terrorism and political violence
  • Popular sovereignty, protest movements and global technologies – e.g. the North African revolutions, information-technology and religious fundamentalism
  • Sovereignty in post-colonial societies – e.g. comparative examination of Australia, South Africa, Sri Lanka and India
  • Religion, democracy and constitutional pluralism
  • Human/animal distinction and governance through ‘forms of life’
  • Biotechnology, climate change and the rule of experts.

A student who has successfully completed this subject should:

  • Understand and critically interrogate the limits of modern democratic legal institutions as a mode of governing
  • Understand how multiple normative frameworks and systems of rules (religion, culture, law) are in tension in plural democracies
  • Integrate recent studies in democratic and political theory with transnational movements of people and technology
  • Understand and apply methodologies and perspectives that examine juridical problems presented by religion, culture and globalisation.

10,000 word research paper (100%) (19 August) on a topic approved by the subject coordinator

Prescribed Texts:

Core subject materials will be provided free of charge to all students. Some subjects require further texts to be purchased. Visit the Melbourne Law Masters website for more information about this subject.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Links to further information:

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