LAW4193 - Biotechnology and the law - 2019

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.



Chief examiner(s)

Semester 2: Dr Karinne Ludlow

Unit guides



  • Second semester 2019 (On-campus)


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 prior to 2015: LAW1100 OR LAW1101 and LAW1102 or LAW1104


For students who commenced their LLB (Hons) course in 2015 or later: LAW3111; LAW3112


The Unit explores the intersection of biotechnology and law. Possible social, cultural, economic and political concerns about the application of biotechnology techniques and the use of their products in various sectors, medical, agricultural and industrial, and the consequential demands on the law will be central to the unit. The unit focuses on Australian law but where useful, the approach taken in overseas jurisdictions is included. Topics include consideration of the difficulties in regulating science generally; examination of national and state regulatory systems for research and development using controversial biotechnology techniques, including genetic modification and cloning; analysis of the more significant legal concerns regarding access to genetic resources; evaluation of approaches to the regulation of end products of biotechnology.


On completion of the Unit students should have:

  1. coherent and advanced knowledge of the principles and concepts underpinning the application of traditional legal rules, and the development of new legal rules, to socio-economic issues raised by biotechnology;
  2. skills and knowledge to provide basic advice to scientists and those wanting to commercially exploit biotechnology and its outcomes on their rights and responsibilities in law;
  3. an understanding of the development of legal rules and institutions tailored to biotechnology (e.g., Australian Gene Technology Regulator; legislation governing human embryo research and cloning; regulatory approaches to genetics research and commercialisation);
  4. an understanding of, and the ability to critically analyse and evaluate, the interests and forces that influence and shape the development and application of the law to biotechnology;
  5. skills to review, analyse, consolidate and synthesis the above knowledge to identify and provide solutions to complex problems arising out of the practice or development of, or activities pertaining to, biotechnology;
  6. further developed their writing skills; and
  7. enhanced their skills of statutory interpretation in the context of technical and complex legislation.


NOTE: From 1 July 2019, the duration of all exams is changing to combine reading and writing time. The new exam duration for this unit is 2 hours and 30 minutes.

Examination (2 hours plus 30 minutes reading and noting time): 60 % and written assignment (2000 words): 40%

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