Freedom of Speech

Subject LAWS70390 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

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

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2016:

July, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start 16-Jun-2016
Teaching Period 13-Jul-2016 to 19-Jul-2016
Assessment Period End 05-Sep-2016
Last date to Self-Enrol 31-Mar-2016
Census Date 13-Jul-2016
Last date to Withdraw without fail 05-Aug-2016

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

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 24-26 hours
Total Time Commitment:

136-150 hours

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.


Melbourne Law Masters Students: None

JD Students: Successful completion of all the below subjects:

Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:
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 Student Equity and Disability Support.


Prof Adrienne Stone



Professor Adrienne Stone (Coordinator)
Professor Frederick Schauer

Phone: +61 3 8344 6190

Subject Overview:

Freedom of speech is a widely agreed upon principle in free democratic societies. However, at the same time, it is at the centre of fierce and wide-ranging disputes. This subject will examine the rationales for protection of freedom of speech and key controversies about freedom of speech. The subject will be broadly comparative, examining the legal protection of freedom of speech in Australia, Europe, Asia and North America. Jurisdictions of particular focus (in addition to Australia) will include India, Malaysia, Germany, the United States and Canada.

Principal topics include:

  • Normative arguments for freedom of speech and for the regulation of speech
  • The legal mechanisms for protection freedom of speech in international law and selected domestic jurisdictions
  • The relationship between freedom of speech and laws regulating:
    • racial and religious vilification (including holocaust denial)
    • political protest
    • electoral funding
    • terrorism and national security.
Learning Outcomes:

A student who has successfully completed this subject will:

  • Understand why arguments persist to regulate hate speech
  • Be able to elucidate how and why/why not the regulation of hate speech is consistent with international norms aimed at preserving free speech
  • Explain a variety of approaches to the legal regulation of hate speech
  • Formulate coherent arguments concerning the appropriate regulatory response to particular instances of hate speech.

Take-home examination (5,000-6,000 words as specified in the subject reading guide) (100%) (2 - 5 September)

A minimum of 75% attendance is a hurdle requirement.

Prescribed Texts:

Specialist printed materials will be made available free of charge from the Melbourne Law School prior to the pre-teaching period.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Links to further information:
Related Course(s): Graduate Diploma in Communications Law
Graduate Diploma in Government Law
Graduate Diploma in Legal Studies
Juris Doctor
Master of Commercial Law
Master of Laws
Master of Public and International Law

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