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This unit introduces students to the major theories of law and key debates on what the content of the law ought to  be. The aim of this unit is to encourage students  to think critically about the characteristics of law, the social forces that shape the law  and the powers judges exercise. The unit provides a detailed introduction and analysis of leading theories  of law such as Positivism, Natural Law, Realism, Interpretivism and related theories such as Law and Economics, Justice and critical approaches to the formation and operation of law.

Summary 2021

Unit name Legal Theory
Unit code LAW261
Credit points 12.5
Faculty/School College of Arts, Law and Education
Faculty of Law
Discipline Law
Available as student elective? Yes
Breadth Unit? No



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About Census Dates

Learning Outcomes

  1. Describe, understand and critically reflect upon the key debates about the formation and operation of law.
  2. Describe, understand and critically reflect upon major theories of law arising from the Western tradition of legal theory.
  3. Critically apply theories of law in analysing legal policy issues in the modern context.
  4. Prepare and present cogent arguments in writing regarding the theoretical basis of law.




50 credit points of Introductory Law core or (LAW121 and LAW122)

Mutual Exclusions

You cannot enrol in this unit as well as the following:



Teaching Pattern

Weekly Seminar (2 hours)


Task 1: Test, 50 minutes (20%)

Task 2: Essay, 2200 words (40%)

Task 3: Judgement writing task, 2500 words (40%)

TimetableView the lecture timetable | View the full unit timetable



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