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LAW2224 Theories of Law

Semester 2, 2021 Toowoomba On-campus
Short Description: Theories of Law
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts
School or Department : School of Law and Justice
Student contribution band : Band 4
ASCED code : 090999 - Law not elsewhere classified
Grading basis : Graded
Version produced : 23 October 2021


Examiner: Nicholas Greenstreet


Pre-requisite: LAW1111 and LAW1112 and (LAW1114 or HIS1115)

Other Requisites

Students are required to have access to a personal computer, e-mail capabilities and Internet access to UConnect. Current details of computer requirements can be found at


This is a core course in the Bachelor of Laws. It ensures that, in accordance with threshold learning outcomes, students learn broader contexts of law. These include political, social and philosophical contexts in which legal issues arise.

The course provides students with opportunities to learn theories of what law is and what law should be. It includes the learning of theories of how law changes in relation to society, and theories of justice.


While most law courses submerge students in the technical rules of various aspects of the law, this course places the law in the context of philosophies which critique the basis of those rules. Students will study various bodies of thought that have in the past influenced legal thinking, including legal positivism, natural law, feminist, realist and critical theories of law, and liberal, social and radical political theories. Against the background of classical and modern natural law theories, consideration will also be given to philosophies of virtue and character - particularly as applicable to lawyers.


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

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of a coherent body of knowledge [relevant to theories of law], and underlying principles and concepts; the broader contexts within which legal issues arise [in legal philosophy] and of the principles and values of justice and of ethical practice in lawyers’ roles (PO1/TLO1).
  2. Demonstrate an ability to recognise and reflect upon the professional responsibilities of lawyers in promoting justice and in service to the community (PO2/TLO2).
  3. Identify and articulate legal issues [related to theories of law]; [comprehend legal and other materials including philosophical and sociological analyses of law]; engage in critical analysis and make a reasoned choice amongst alternatives; and think creatively in approaching legal issues and generating appropriate responses (PO3/TLO3).
  4. Demonstrate the intellectual and practical skills needed to identify research in an ethical manner, evaluate and synthesise factual, legal and policy issues [relevant to theories of law] (PO4/TLO4).
  5. Communicate in ways that are effective, appropriate and persuasive for legal and non-legal audiences (PO5/TLO5).


Description Weighting(%)
1. Introduction to legal theory 5.00
2. British legal positivism 10.00
3. Germanic legal positivism 10.00
4. American legal realism 10.00
5. Natural law – classical and Christian 5.00
6. Natural law - modern 5.00
7. Modern virtue ethics in legal practice 10.00
8. Social theories of law and justice 10.00
9. Therapeutic jurisprudence 5.00
10. Evolutionary theories of law 10.00
11. Liberalism and rights 10.00
12. Postmodern and feminist theories of law and justice 10.00

Text and Materials

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

Ratnapala, S 2017, Jurisprudence, 3rd edn, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne, Victoria.

Reference Materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.
Bix, B 2019, Jurisprudence: theory and context, 8th edn, Sweet & Maxwell, London.
Crowe, J 2019, Legal theory, 3rd edn, Lawbook Co, Pyrmont, New South Wales.
Davies, M 2017, Asking the law question, 4th edn, Lawbook Co, Pyrmont, New South Wales.
Freeman, MDA 2014, Lloyd's introduction to jurisprudence, 9th edn, Sweet & Maxwell, London.
Wacks, R 2017, Understanding jurisprudence: an introduction to legal theory, 5th edn, Oxford University Press, Oxford, England.

Student Workload Expectations

Activity Hours
Assessments 80.00
Private Study 46.00
Seminars 39.00

Assessment Details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Objectives Assessed Notes
ESSAY 1 35 35 17 Aug 2021 1,3,4,5
ESSAY 2 35 35 05 Oct 2021 1,3,4,5
COURSE ENGAGEMENT 30 30 19 Oct 2021 1,2,3,4,5 (see note 1)

  1. Course engagement is conducted throughout the semester with finalised submission at the end of the semester.

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    Online: There are no attendance requirements for this course. However, it is the students' responsibility to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration.

    On-campus: It is the students' responsibility to attend and participate appropriately in all activities (such as lectures, tutorials, laboratories and practical work) scheduled for them, and to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To satisfactorily complete an individual assessment item a student must achieve at least 50% of the marks. (Depending upon the requirements in Statement 4 below, students may not have to satisfactorily complete each assessment item to receive a passing grade in this course.)

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    Students should refer to the Assessment Procedure (point 4.2.4)

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must achieve at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for the course.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the aggregate of the weighted marks obtained for each of the summative assessment items in the course.

  6. Examination information:
    There is no examination in this course.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    Deferred and Supplementary examinations will be held in accordance with the Assessment Procedure

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Assessment Notes

  1. Referencing in assignments:
    Students studying this course as part of a Bachelor of Laws must use the Australian Guide to Legal Citation (AGLC) style. Students who are not enrolled in a Bachelor of Laws may use either Harvard (AGPS) or the Australian Guide to Legal Citation (AGLC) in their assignments to format details of the information sources they have cited in their work. For AGLC style guide enquiries, consult the AGLC manual from the USQ Library's referencing guide at, or contact the Law librarian. The Harvard (AGPS) style to be used is defined by the USQ Library's referencing guide at

Date printed 23 October 2021