Freedom of Information

Subject LAWS70372 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 7 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2016.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: The total class time is between 24 and 26 hours.
Total Time Commitment:

The pre-teaching period commences four weeks before the subject commencement date. From this time, students are expected to access and review the Reading Guide that will be available from the LMS subject page and the subject materials provided by the subject coordinator, which will be available from Melbourne Law School. Refer to the Reading Guide for confirmation of which resources need to be read and what other preparation is required before the teaching period commences.

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:

Phone: +61 3 8344 6190

Subject Overview:

Freedom of Information (FOI) laws have been introduced in over 90 countries around the world to date, with most of these being introduced in recent years. The right to information is increasingly recognised at both domestic constitutional level and by international human rights tribunals. At the same time, FOI is experiencing considerable challenges in terms of the balancing of access rights against other important societal values, such as the protection of privacy, law enforcement and the protection of national security. Here in Australia, the FOI landscape has undergone significant change in recent years. This subject explores the way in which the tension between access and other interests is being negotiated in the new Australian FOI regime. It offers insights from other jurisdictions, both domestic and international. The lecturer brings to this subject a wealth of experience of writing, lecturing and advising on FOI matters in various parts of the world.

Principal topics will include:

  • Background to the development of access legislation
  • Access to information: The theoretical framework
  • The human rights dimension of access to public information
  • Reuse of government information
  • National regimes on access
  • Comparative approaches
  • Defining the ‘public interest‘.
Learning Outcomes:

A student who has successfully completed this subject should:

  • Have a firm grasp of major developments in access to information regimes nationally and internationally
  • Be able to apply general principles on access to particular circumstances
  • Be aware of genuine claims for secrecy and confidentiality
  • Be able to balance openness and privacy
  • Be able to assess relevance of exemptions to specific information
  • Be able to assess how the public interest operates to override exemptions.

10,000 word research paper (100%) 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:

This subject has a quota of 30 students. Please refer to the website for further information about the management of subject quotas and waitlists.

Related Course(s): Graduate Diploma in Communications Law
Graduate Diploma in Government Law
Graduate Diploma in Legal Studies
Master of Commercial Law
Master of Laws
Master of Public and International Law

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