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Handbooks Courses Units

LAW7118 - Pacific comparative law

6 points, SCA Band 3, 0.125 EFTSL

Postgraduate Faculty of Law

Leader: Mr Kwame Mfodwo


Not offered in 2008


Comparative study of the societies, constitutions and legal systems of Pacific states including Australia. Comparative/interdisciplinary approaches to the study of law. Themes include 'Government': traditional political systems, colonial imprint, sovereignty and dependency, constitutional models, overthrow of government, court systems, techniques for checking power; 'Legal pluralism': sources of law, customary law, common law, recognition of indigenous law, ethnic difference, human rights, dispute resolution; 'Property': early concepts, recognition of land rights, natural resources, regulation of commerce and investment; 'Regional issues': environment, fisheries, treaties.


Students successfully completing this subject should

  1. have a basic understanding of thenature, history and development of the diverse societies, constitutions and politico-legal systems of Australi's Pacific Island neighbours;
  2. be able to define and distinguish local and introduced sources of law, legal institutions and forms of political organisation; to explain how, in different ways, indigenous and imported concepts have been adapted, sometimes inadequately, to meet perceived needs of the modern state; and to understand how states are created and how relationships of varying degrees of independence are established and justified;
  3. have a clear appreciation of the relevance for Australia of contemporary pacific studies on such issues as - the purposes and limitations of forms and functions of government - the implementation of universal principles of human rights - the significance of constitutional change (both lawful and by violent overthrow) and - the function of Pacific regional organisations and treaties; have developed advanced competence in comparative techniques and have further developed interdisciplinary perspectives acquired at an undergradaute level, and will have thus enriched their understanding of law and its functioning in their area of study;
  4. have further enhanced their skills in interdisciplinary research; and
  5. have further developed skills of critical analysis through formulating independently legal and policy issues and articulating them orally and in a substantial written paper.


Class test (50 minutes): 10%
Work-in-progress presentation: 10%
Research paper (5000-6000 words): 80%

Contact hours

One 2-hour seminar per week

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