Money, Politics & The Law

Subject LAWS50105 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 5 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2016.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 30 hours of seminar classes offered intensively, or as 12 weekly 2.5 hour seminars over a semester.
Total Time Commitment:

120 hours.

Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:
Semester 1
Semester 1
Semester 2
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

The Melbourne Law School welcomes applications from students with disabilities. It is University and Law School policy to take all reasonable steps to enable the participation of students with disabilities, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the School's programs.

The inherent academic requirements for the study in the Melbourne Law School are:

  1. The ability to attend classes and actively engage in the analysis of complex materials and debate;
  2. The ability to read, analyse and comprehend complex written legal materials and complex interdisciplinary materials;
  3. The ability to clearly and independently communicate in writing a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and critically evaluate these;
  4. The ability to clearly and independently communicate orally a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and critically evaluate these;
  5. The ability to work independently and as a part of a group;
  6. The ability to present orally and in writing legal analysis to a professional standard.

Students must possess behavioural and social attributes that enable them to participate in a complex learning environment. Students are required to take responsibility for their own participation and learning. They also contribute to the learning of other students in collaborative learning environments, demonstrating interpersonal skills and an understanding of the needs of other students. Assessment may include the outcomes of tasks completed in collaboration with other students.

Students who feel their disability will prevent them from participating in tasks involving these inherent academic requirements are encouraged to contact the Disability Liaison Unit:


Phone: +61 3 8344 4475

Subject Overview:

This subject will examine complex challenges posed by the regulation of political funding. Its focus will be on the Australian experience of regulating:

  • Political donations;
  • Public resources available for electioneering (election funding, parliamentary entitlements and government advertising); and
  • Lobbying.

Various regulatory measures will be examined including disclosure and restrictions on political donations, limits on political spending and other anti-corruption measures.

The subject will be grounded in the key principles and theories implicated by political funding, in particular, the contested notions of democracy, corruption, equality/fairness and liberty/freedom (in particular, the freedoms of political association and expression). It will adopt an interdisciplinary and comparative approach to understanding such regulation – it will draw upon the relevant literature in law, political science and political philosophy and involve case studies of comparable jurisdictions (including Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom and the United States).

Learning Outcomes:

A student who has successfully completed this subject should have an advanced and integrated understanding of:

  • The key principles and theories relating to the regulation of political funding (and the complex relationships between them); and
  • The regulation of political funding in Australia.

They should also be able to:

  • Critically apply these principles and theories to a range of contexts with a focus on contemporary problems relating to political funding and its regulation in Australia;
  • Draw upon various academic disciplines and comparative experience in such applications;
  • Undertake advanced research into political funding and its regulation in Australia - such research is expected to demonstrate:

    - Expert skills in researching the topic of political funding and its regulation in Australia;
    - A mastery of the complex body of knowledge relating to this topic; and
    - An advanced ability to communicate such knowledge, both orally and in writing, to specialist and non-specialist audiences.
  • Completing and submitting a workbook comprising answers to class exercises is a hurdle requirement.
  • 100% of the grade for the subject will be based on a 7,000 word independent research essay on a topic developed by the student and approved by the coordinator.
Prescribed Texts:
  • Joo-Cheong Tham, Money and Politics: The Democracy We Can't Afford (latest edition);
  • Specialist printed materials will also be made available from 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:

  • Attitudes towards knowledge that include valuing truth, openness to new ideas and ethics associated with knowledge creation and usage in a highly controversial area of law and policy;
  • The capacity for close reading and critical analysis of a range of sources, particularly from the disciplines of law, political science and political philosophy;
  • The cognitive, technical and creative skills to generate and evaluate complex ideas and concepts in relation to the regulation of political funding, and the ability to translate those ideas and concepts to practical problems;
  • The capacity for critical and independent thought and reflection; and
  • The capacity to solve problems, including through the collection and evaluation of information, in a complex area of policy-making.
Related Course(s): Juris Doctor

Download PDF version.