LAW4654 - Law and liberty - 2017

6 points, SCA Band 3, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

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




Dr Janice Richardson

Quota applies

The number of places available for a unit taught in Prato is strictly limited to 45. This is the maximum room capacity at the Prato Centre.

Not offered in 2017


The aim of this course is to consider the meaning of political liberty in Europe, US and Australia today. It will examine the theoretical underpinnings of many areas of human rights, such as free speech, privacy and political rights. To do so it will compare different traditions of Western thought that continue to influence our views on liberty. The course is based upon close readings of selected politico-legal philosophers, for example John Stuart Mill's "On Liberty", which argues for freedom of speech and action to the extent that this freedom is consistent with not harming others. Liberal and republican views of political freedom are contrasted. While the course is structured around an examination of primary philosophical readings, the theoretical frameworks will be considered in the context of contemporary legal debates and concepts.


On completion of this unit students will be able to:

  • Apply knowledge of, and understanding of key debates regarding the meaning of liberty for Western democracies.
  • Investigate, analyse and synthesise complex information, problems, concepts and theories in relation to the meaning of liberty with regard to law and to critically evaluate such concepts.
  • Conduct research into the concept of liberty based on knowledge of appropriate research principle and methods. Such research could include a critical analysis of contemporary debates on the meaning of liberty and its implications for areas of law, for example the development of privacy law and free speech.
  • Use cognitive, technical and creative skills to generate and evaluate at an abstract level complex ideas and concepts relevant to Western understanding of liberty.


Seminar participation: 10%, seminar presentation: 10% and take-home examination of 4,000 words maximum: 80%.

Workload requirements

Minimum total expected workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours per semester typically comprising a mixture of scheduled learning activities and independent study. The unit requires on average three/four hours of scheduled activities per week. Scheduled activities may include a combination of teacher directed learning, peer directed learning and online engagement.

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)


For students who commenced their LLB (Hons) course in 2015 or later:

LAW1111; LAW1114; LAW1112; LAW1113; LAW2101; LAW2102; LAW2112; LAW2111

For students who commenced their LLB course before 2015:

LAW1101 & LAW1104 or other equivalent introduction to law course.