Law in Social Theory

Subject SOLS30001 (2014)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2014.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 3 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2014.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 1 x 1.5 hour lecture and 1 x 1 hour tutorial per week
Total Time Commitment:

Total of 120 hours

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:

Criminology or Socio-Legal Studies at Levels 1 & 2

Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

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


Ms. Maria Rae

Subject Overview:

Law in Social Theory builds upon issues introduced in Law in Society, and Law, Justice and Social Change. It examines the theories of the function and role of law propounded by a range of social and legal theorists and movements, including Habermas, Bourdieu, Luhmann, Critical Legal Studies, Feminist Legal Theory, Derrida and others. Students examine these different theories of how law works and law's role in relation to society. Each week, the potentials and limitations of these theories are considered in light of and tested against contemporary criminological and socio-legal problems selected by the students and the lecturer. Students conceptualise their chosen case study through the perspective of particular theorists. Case studies in the past have included the David Hicks trial, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, closure of live music venues, Aboriginal customary law in the courts, corporate manslaughter, criminal record legislation, sex discrimination in the workplace, the use of art experts in the courtroom, prostitution legislation. The purpose of the course is thus two-fold: to become familiar with different theories of the function of law in relation to society, and to consider the insight these theories bring to different criminological and socio-legal problems.

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this subject students should:

  • have knowledge of the theories of the role of law propounded by a range of social and legal theorists and theoretical movements;
  • consider the insight these theories bring, and their potentials and limitations, in relation to different criminological and socio-legal problems;
  • consider the use of theory in understanding law and its operation.

A class presentation and report of 400 words (20%) due early in the semester, a 1600 word research essay (30%) due mid-late semester, and a 2000 word take home exam (50%) due during the examination Period.

Hurdle Requirement: This subject has a minimum Hurdle Requirement of 75% tutorial attendance. Regular participation in tutorials is required.

Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 10% per working day. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

Prescribed Texts:
  • An Introduction to Law and Social Theory, Reza Banakar and Max Travers ed, Oxford Hart Publishing, 2002.
Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

On completion of this subject students should:

  • have highly developed cognitive, analytical and problem-solving skills;
  • have an advanced understanding of complex concepts and the ability to express them lucidly in writing and orally;
  • have sophisticated awareness of cultural, ethnic and gender diversities and their implications;
  • have an ability to plan work and to use time effectively.

Available as a Breadth subject to non-Bachelor of Arts students

Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Criminology
Criminology Major
Law and Justice
Social Theory
Social Theory
Social Theory Major
Socio-legal Studies Major
Sociology Major
Related Breadth Track(s): Law and Justice

Download PDF version.