LAW318 Jurisprudence (8)

This subject provides a philosophical introduction to the nature of law and the legal system, including the relationship of law to justice and morality. It introduces students to significant philosophical theorists including Austin, Bentham, Dworkin, Grotius, Hart, Kant, Kelsen, Marx and Rawls. Students study legal reasoning, the relationship between morality and law, what gives rules authority, the role of the judge, and the social and economic nature of law. This subject also explores the nature of rights and their relationship to law, ethics and morality, together with the philosophical foundations guiding judicial decision-making and legal interpretivism.

No offerings have been identified for this subject in 2020.

Where differences exist between the Handbook and the SAL, the SAL should be taken as containing the correct subject offering details.

Subject Information

Grading System



One session


Centre for Law and Justice

Enrolment Restrictions

Restricted to Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Criminal Justice students only

Assumed Knowledge

All 100 and 200 level core subjects in the Bachelor of Laws.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:
  • be able to discuss the origins of legal philosophy in ancient society and its influence on the development of contemporary jurisprudence
  • be able to analyse and critically assess significant writings of selected jurists or legal theorists
  • be able to discuss key issues in the philosophy of law
  • be able to demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the terminology relevant to jurisprudence
  • be able to articulate the interrelationship of ethics, law and rights
  • be able to demonstrate an understanding of the processes for the determination of individual rights, and the social, political and legal institutions necessary to maintain these rights
  • be able to discuss critically the development of Marx's theories about and ideas on law by later legal theorists
  • be able to discuss critically the influence of the major forms of feminist theory on the development of contemporary jurisprudence
  • be able to engage critically with the principles underpinning legal realism
  • be able to demonstrate an understanding of the role of legal theory in contemporary judicial decision making
  • be able to discuss and critique the conception of rights, including human, legal and moral rights
  • be able to identify and discuss the philosophy grounding particular laws and legal structures in contemporary Australia


This subject will cover the following topics:
  • What is jurisprudence?: the historical, philosophical, sociological and political context
  • The concept of law, including the rule of law, moralism, and legal and ethical obligations
  • The origins of law, including the normative character of law; "ought" and "is"; along with contemporary issues in philosophy of law
  • The development of contemporary jurisprudence
  • The meaning of law: law and regularity, law and morals, law and value judgements
  • Natural law theories and theorists
  • Legal positivism and Hart's theory of law
  • Dworkin's interpretive theory in the context of the natural law/positivism distinction.
  • Liberalism
  • Sociological jurisprudence (Comte and Sociology; Max Weber; Durkheim)
  • Economic approaches to law
  • Marx and law
  • Theories of justice (Rawls and distributive justice; economic theories of law and justice)
  • Critical legal theory
  • Feminist jurisprudence
  • Legal rights, including human rights
  • Democratic institutions
  • Theories of adjudication: American legal realism and rule scepticism
  • Legal interpretivism: judicial reasoning and decision making

Indicative Assessment

The following table summarises the assessment tasks for the online offering of LAW318 in Session 2 2019. Please note this is a guide only. Assessment tasks are regularly updated and can also differ to suit the mode of study (online or on campus).

Item Number
Value %
Multiple choice test
Judicial decision-making
Padlet wall + brief

The information contained in the CSU Handbook was accurate at the date of publication: October 2020. The University reserves the right to vary the information at any time without notice.