LAW4674 - Freedom of speech: Law, theory and policy - 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.



Not offered in 2017


This unit covers the law of freedom of expression from a comparative law perspective. Commencing with a discussion of international law on freedom of expression, the course will then move to the emergence and ascendency of the protection of freedom of expression/speech in Europe, under the European Convention on Human Rights, and in the United States, under the First Amendment as well as in other common law jurisdictions. It will also cover significant developments in the permissible limitations on freedom of expression in view of other rights and interests such as property, equality, non-discrimination, public order, national security, privacy and reputation.


At the successful completion of this Unit, students will be able to:

  1. Recognise and critically evaluate the theories and principles underpinning the law of freedom of expression from a comparative perspective;
  2. Identify and elucidate the international law on freedom of expression and compare and contrast this with the protection of freedom of expression in Europe and in the United States;
  3. Apply these insights to communicate effectively, appropriately and persuasively in the critical analysis of the law and theories of freedom of expression; and
  4. Provide and make use of feedback to assess their own capabilities and performance and to support personal and professional development.


Attendance requirement: students who fail to attend at least 80% of the classes in this unit (ie who miss 3 or more classes) will receive a result of 0 N for the unit. Students who are unable to meet this requirement due to severe illness or other exceptional circumstances must make an application for in-semester special consideration with supporting documentation.

  1. 15 minute class presentation, short paper (1,000 words) and overall class participation: 20%
  2. Take-home examination (4,000 words): 80%

Workload requirements

Students will be required to attend 36 hours of seminars, and undertake approximately an additional 108 hours of private study, including reading, class preparation and revision time over the duration of the unit.

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)


For students who commenced their LLB course prior to 2015:

LAW1101 Introduction to legal reasoning and LAW1104 Research and writing.

For students enrolled in the LLB (Honours) course from 2015:

LAW1111 Foundations of law, LAW1112 Public law and statutory interpretation, LAW1113 Torts, LAW1114 Criminal law 1, LAW2101 Contract A, LAW2102 Contract B, LAW2111 Constitutional law and LAW2112 Property A.

For other students:

Equivalent introductory units from another university.