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Monash University

Monash University Handbook 2011 Postgraduate - Unit

6 points, SCA Band 3, 0.125 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.

FacultyFaculty of Law
OfferedCity (Melbourne) Term 2 2011 (On-campus block of classes)
Coordinator(s)Dr Matt Collins


This unit will comprise a detailed study of Australia's defamation laws:

  1. Defamation laws as a mechanism for balancing freedom of speech and the right to reputation;
  2. Australia's current system of uniform defamation laws;
  3. The residual relevance and operation of common law principles;
  4. Comparative analysis of corresponding principles in England and the United States;
  5. Application of defamation laws to new media including the Internet;
  6. Alternatives to defamation law;
  7. Defamation law in practice, from pre-publication to trial by jury.


Students successfully completing this unit should:

  1. understand Australia's new uniform defamation laws and how they differ from the previous regime of differing State and Territory laws;
  2. have a thorough knowledge of the elements of the cause of action, the operation of defences and remedies;
  3. appreciate the differences between the way in which freedom of expression is protected in Australia, England and the United States;
  4. recognise the advantages and disadvantages of defamation law as a cause of action when compared to available alternatives;
  5. understand the operation of choice of law principles where defamatory matter is published across multiple jurisdictions, including via the Internet;
  6. develop the skills necessary to provide effective pre-publication advice;
  7. have an awareness of how defamation trials are conducted from the perspective of both plaintiffs and defendants.


One research assignment (3750 words): 50%
One take-home examination (3750 words): 50%

Chief examiner(s)

Dr Matt Collins

Contact hours

24 contact hours per semester (either intensive, semi-intensive or semester long, depending on the Faculty resources, timetabling and requirements)