Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

Criminal activities carried out by means of computers or the internet are increasingly important because of the ubiquitous use of computers and the internet in all aspects of contemporary society. Cybercrime affects millions of people each year.

This unit will introduce students to the legal, technical and social aspects of cybercrime, including laws relating to various offences and related case studies from recent cybercrime incidents. Focus will be on the origins and extent of cybercrime, responses from the legal system, and consideration of the wider effects for society. Students will primarily be introduced to Australian law governing these areas, but will also learn about international legal developments, where applicable.

The aim of this unit is to equip students with the requisite knowledge and understanding of cybercrime to be able to apply contemporary legal, law enforcement, and regulatory principles to address cybercrime in Australia.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Describe the origin and basic structure of the Internet and differentiate the types of cybercrime perpetrated online (GA2, GA5, GA9)

LO2 - Evaluate the legal and regulatory structure for dealing with cybercrime in Australia (GA2, GA3, GA9)

LO3 - Apply contemporary legal, law enforcement, and regulatory principles to address cybercrime in Australia (GA1, GA3, GA7)

Graduate attributes

GA1 - Demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA2 - Recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society

GA3 - Apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA5 - Demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession

GA7 - Work both autonomously and collaboratively

GA9 - Demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media


Topics will include:

  • Introduction to Cybercrime (how to categorise and differentiate real-space and cyber-space crime)
  • Introduction to the Regulation of Cyberspace, including:
  • The history and origins of the Internet
  • The basic structure and function of the Internet as it relates to enabling cybercrime
  • The origins of speech on the Internet, including:
  • Theoretical discussions of cyberspace as a utopia for free speech
  • The introduction of mischief and social control on the Internet – case study from early MUD (roleplaying games/chat rooms)
  • Theoretical discussions around surveillance, privacy and social control on the Internet
  • The categories of cybercrime and their basic regulatory structure in Australia, including:
  • Identity theft and cyber-fraud
  • Hacking, ransomware and denial of service attacks
  • Viruses and other malicious programs
  • Harassment, Bullying and Stalking online, including discussions around surveillance, privacy and free speech online

Domestic and international approaches to the regulation and prosecution of cyber-criminals

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit comprises 150 hours of study in total. It will be taught over a 12 week semester, with one 2-hour lecture followed by a 1-hour tutorial each week or ACU Online 10 week asynchronous delivery mode. Other study components might include on-line webinars, podcasts, readings, discussion forums etc. The balance of the hours is comprised of self-directed study.

Students will undertake practical learning and assessments that focus on real-world problems and challenges with the goal of developing their problem solving, decision making and investigative skills with regard to cybercrime. This unit engages students in active learning activities, such as reading, writing, discussion and problem-solving to promote analysis, synthesis and evaluation of class content. Particular attention is given to literacy and communication skills (reading, critical assessment, writing) and inquiry and analytical skills (critical thinking, problem-solving, evaluation and application of theoretical and discipline-specific knowledge to real-world problems).

ACU Online 

This unit uses an active learning approach to support students in the exploration of knowledge essential to the discipline. Students are provided with choice and variety in how they learn. Students are encouraged to contribute to asynchronous weekly discussions. Active learning opportunities provide students with opportunities to practice and apply their learning in situations similar to their future professions. Activities encourage students to bring their own examples to demonstrate understanding, application and engage constructively with their peers. Students receive regular and timely feedback on their learning, which includes information on their progress. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment tasks have been explicitly created to address the identified Learning Outcomes for this unit (assessment of learning) and designed to integrate with the learning and teaching strategy above. In this way they allow students to develop the knowledge and understanding needed as a foundation for developing and applying the skills required by professionals working in the field of cybercrime (assessment for learning).

Students will be required to complete three assessment tasks in this unit:

  1. Short Written Task. Students will be required to describe key themes around the development and contemporary framework for the evaluation and regulation of cybercrime in Australia. This may take the form of a short answer test, in-class ‘minute paper’ or another equivalent task.
  2. Mid-Semester Exam. Students will critically respond to problem-based questions and apply discipline-specific theory and practical knowledge.
  3. Research Essay. This assessment will require students to critically evaluate various legal and policy approaches to cybercrime. The research essay will allow students to engage with the scholarship on specific approaches to cybercrime. Students will need to determine what research they need to do in order to analyse, critically evaluate, and interpret the question to draft an informative and comprehensive paper. Instruction will be given in how to draft a research essay and the fundamentals of research and writing. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

1. Short Written Task

This assessment builds knowledge around the development and contemporary framework for the evaluation and regulation of cybercrime



GA2, GA5, GA9

2. Mid-Semester Exam

This assessment requires students to critically respond to problem-based questions and apply discipline-specific theory and practical knowledge



GA2, GA3, GA9

3. Research Essay

This assessment requires students to critically evaluate various legal and policy approaches to cybercrime and engage with the scholarship on specific approaches to cybercrime.  



GA1, GA3, GA7

Representative texts and references

Clough J, Principles of Cybercrime (2nd ed.), Cambridge University Press, 2017

Smyth S M, Cybercrime in Canadian Criminal Law (2nd ed.), Carswell, 2015.

Dibbell J, My Tiny Life, 1998 (Chapter 1).

Urbas G, Cybercrime Legislation, 2nd edition, 2020.

Grabosky P & Pontell H (ed), Cybercrime: Keynotes Criminology Criminal Justice, 2015.

Yar M & Steinmetz K, Cybercrime and Society, 3rd edition, 2019.

Etzioni A & Rice C, Privacy in a Cyber Age: Policy and Practice, 2015.

Mehan J, IT Governance Publishing (ed), Cyberwar, Cyberterror, Cybercrime, 2nd edition, 2014.

Graham R & Smith S, Cybercrime and Digital Deviance, 2019.

Holt T & Bossler A, Cybercrime in Progress: Theory and prevention of technology-enabled offenses, 2017.

Martellozzo E & Jane E, Cybercrime and its victims, 2019.

Video – The Rise of the Trolls, ABC Four Corners, 2017. 

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