LAW5609 - Law and liberty - 2017

6 points, SCA Band 3, 0.125 EFTSL

Postgraduate - Unit

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



Quota applies

The unit can be taken by a maximum of 45 students (due to limited facilities and method of teaching).

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, along with Kant's analysis that provides the theoretical underpinning of many arguments for human rights. 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; and
  • Use cognitive, technical and creative skills to generate and evaluate at an abstract level complex ideas and concepts relevant to Western understanding of liberty.


Research assignment (3750 words): 50%

Take home examination (3750 words): 50%

Workload requirements

This will vary depending upon the demands of Prato and the timetable. Indicative hours would be: 6 hours a week for 6 weeks or 12 hours per week for 3 weeks. The total number of hours contact will remain 36.

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study