Mental Health Law

Subject LAWS70458 (2014)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2014.

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

This subject is not offered in 2014.

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 will analyse the relationship between psychiatry, psychology and law in contemporary Australia. It will address criteria and policy relating to involuntary status, focusing on the Mental Health Bill 2013; the role of the 2013 DSM-5; expert evidence by mental health practitioners; mental harm litigation; the role of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in civil litigation; prediction of risk in criminal law; syndrome evidence in litigation; profiling evidence; and therapeutic jurisprudence.

Principal topics will include:

  • Involuntary status in contemporary Australia
  • The role of the Chief Psychiatrist, the Mental Health Commissioner and the Mental Health Tribunal
  • The role of DSM-5 and ICD-10
  • Therapeutic jurisprudence
  • Expert evidence by psychiatrists and psychologists
  • Civil litigation and complaints against mental health practitioners
  • Mental harm litigation
  • PTSD in the law
  • Prediction of risk evidence
  • Syndrome evidence.
Learning Outcomes:

A student who has successfully completed this subject will acquire understanding of:

  • Involuntary inpatient and outpatient orders;
  • Coercion in mental health law;
  • Taxonomies of diagnosis in the courts;
  • Expert evidence by psychiatrists and psychologists;
  • Mental harm litigation;
  • The forensic relevance of conditions such as PTSD; Autism Spectrum Disorder and Intellectual Disability;
  • Risk prediction evidence and criminal profiling evidence;
  • Syndrome evidence;
  • Therapeutic jurisprudence.

10,000 word research paper (100%) (28 January 2015) 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. Details regarding any prescribed texts will be provided prior to the commencement of the 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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