LAW5610 - Varieties of the secular: Law, religion, and social change - 2019

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 2019


This seminar will provide both an historical and contemporary comparative look at the ways that legal systems have dealt with religious difference, freedom of religion, and "the secular". An important note in contemporary scholarship on the contemporary interaction of law and religion has been that there is not a single "secular" but, rather, varieties of secularisms. A close study of the various ways that political power, law, and religion have been configured provides a unique and valuable line of sight into comparative legal traditions, constitutional structure, and legal and political theory. Some of the most interesting contemporary legal and political debates have arisen out of questions about freedom of religion, its limits, and the just relationship between religion and the state.


On completion of this subject, students will be able to:

  1. apply knowledge and understanding of the varieties of ways in which law and religion configure in contemporary models of secularism and the social and political importance of these models, with creativity and initiative to new situations for further learning;
  2. investigate, analyse and synthesise complex information, problems, concepts and theories in relation to the interaction of law and religion in contemporary constitutional orders;
  3. conduct research into the legal and political systems, based on knowledge of appropriate research principles and methods; and
  4. use cognitive, technical and creative skills to generate and evaluate competing theoretical frameworks and to formulate, express, and support the student's opinions and arguments.


Seminar participation: 10%

Presentations: 10%

Three critical essays based on the course materials, total word count for the three assignments to amount to 6,000 words: 80%

Workload requirements

Students are required to attend 36 hours of seminars over the duration of this intensive course.