Legal Language

Subject LAWS20008 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 2 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2016:

Semester 1, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 29-Feb-2016 to 29-May-2016
Assessment Period End 24-Jun-2016
Last date to Self-Enrol 11-Mar-2016
Census Date 31-Mar-2016
Last date to Withdraw without fail 06-May-2016

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 36 hours (one 2-hour lecture and one 1-hour tutorial per week)
Total Time Commitment:

144 hours

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
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 Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support:


Assoc Prof Peter Rush


Contact Stop 1

Subject Overview:

This subject explores the cultural and institutional languages of law. Law talks about itself in the language of rights and duties, authority and justice, property and persons and things. Our examples will focus on the ways in which this language is given institutional form (eg in courts or in cases or in specific procedures), and cultural expression (eg film and literature). Our guiding questions are: how are the languages of law spoken,by whom, where and with what effects? In sum, what we will study is the authority, procedure and conduct of law.

The topics will be:

  • Legislation: classifications of legal action and its contestation;
  • Judgment: forms of reason and precedent, writing and literature;
  • Testimony: witness statements and interrogation in legal institutions and cultures;
  • Testimony: witnessing, evidence and examination.

The subject proceeds by way of close reading of selected cases and judgments chosen to provide a representative sample of the main areas of legal practice and study, such as criminal law and torts, administrative law and native title, constitutional law and evidence, Australian law and international law. Throughout, the justice of the case will be evaluated.

Learning Outcomes:

A student who has successfully completed this subject should have an understanding of the foundations of law, how it is expressed and how it is represented in contemporary culture. Specifically, the student will be able to reflect on and evaluate:

  • Interdisciplinary approaches to law;
  • Legal processes, procedures and methods;
  • The forms and idioms of legislation, judgment and testimony;
  • The legal and cultural role of the lawyer;
  • The legal and cultural expression of rights, duties and the demands of justice;
  • The distinction between private and public, domestic and international law.

In addition, a student will have obtained:

  • An appreciation of the distinctiveness of legal practices;
  • A knowledge of the basic divisions of legal subject areas;
  • In depth knowledge of at least one case study discussed in the subject;
  • The ability to analyse legal problems from a variety of perspectives;
  • The capacity to conduct independent research about law.
  • Case note analysis (1,000 words) (25%);
  • Research essay (3,000 words) (75%).

The due date of the above assessment will be available to enrolled students via the LMS.

Prescribed Texts:

Specialist printed materials will be available from the University Co-Op Bookshop.

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 the subject the student should have:

  • Capacity for self-directed learning, specifically the ability to plan work and use time effectively;
  • Cognitive and analytical skills;
  • Ability to speak about complex ideas in a clear and cogent manner;
  • An awareness of diversity and plurality;
  • Write essays which develop structured argumentation;
  • Capacity to judge the worth of their own arguments.
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Law and Justice

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