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  • Professional Term 1Online Scheduled


LAWS104 Foundations of Law and Legal Research

Unit rationale, description and aim

Media Law introduces students to the fundamental principles of media law in Australia. The unit examines the scope of media freedoms and the role of the media in a democracy, and also the various restrictions on the media and journalists. The unit also explores codes of practice and self-regulatory mechanisms, enabling students to be familiar with the various types of media regulation 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.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome DescriptionRelevant Graduate Capabilities
LO1Describe and critically evaluate principles of media law in AustraliaGC1, GC2, GC7, GC11
LO2Apply principles of media law to factual situations and explain the rights and responsibilities of journalists, media entities and those affected by media publicationsGC1, GC2, GC7, GC11
LO3Evaluate case studies and current issues in media law in light of principles of democracy and free speechGC1, GC2, GC7, GC11


Topics will include


  • Freedom of speech in Australia
  •  Defamation law
  • Protection of privacy
  • Confidential information
  •  Copyright law
  •  Self-regulation and codes of practice
  •  Regulation of advertising
  • Open justice and its exceptions
  •  Prohibitions on vilification
  •  Reporting on parliament
  • Contempt of court
  •  Regulation of media ownership and control

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit will be taught as 12 2-hour lectures followed by a 1-hour tutorial. Our strategy is to encourage students to actively engage with unit content and their peers; to provide a clear link between lecture content and tutorial practicum to develop skills that bridge the gap between theory and practice. Within an integrated learning framework, lectures will provide core content relating to the topics identified above and begin the process of exploration, which will be followed by detailed explanation and further investigation in tutorials. Through direct interaction between students and teachers, students are encouraged to engage in critical analysis of the foundational knowledge they acquire; to test that knowledge by applying it to factual situations; to produce solutions supported by legal authorities and arguments; and to reflect on their learning. Each component is intended to build on knowledge and skills and progressively scaffold student learning.

The online learning platforms used in this unit provide multiple preparatory and practice opportunities to guide in-class and out-of-class study. Technology assistance in the form of online learning resources, notices, assessment information (including online submission, marking and return of results/feedback), is student focused, affording greater accessibility and flexibility to the learning experience. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

Assessment is an integral part of the learning process. This unit is assessed by two assignments, performance of seminar tasks, and a final examination. Assessment tasks in this unit are aimed at measuring and developing student’s achievement of both the learning outcomes and graduate attributes noted above. The assessment in this unit may include, but are not limited to: essays, case notes, presentations or examinations.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Capabilities

Quiz: This task requires students to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of principles of media law in Australia.  


LO1, LO2, LO3GC1, GC2, GC7, GC11

Research Essay: This task requires students to demonstrate their ability to critically analyse current issues in media law, in the light of general theories of media law, and to apply and communicate that knowledge in a formal manner. 


LO1, LO2, LO3GC1, GC2, GC7, GC11

Exam: This assessment requires students to demonstrate their critical thinking skills, knowledge of principles of media law, and their ability to apply this knowledge to case studies and evaluate the merits and utility of theories and ideas. 


LO1, LO2GC1, GC2, GC7, GC11

Representative texts and references

Sharon Rodrick, Brendan Clift, Jennifer Ireland and Lesley Power, Australian Media Law 6th edition, Thomson Reuters, 2021.


Mark Pearson & Mark Polden, The Journalist’s Guide to Media Law, 6th edition, Allen & Unwin, 2019.

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