Course Outline

LAW422 Cultural Legal Studies

Course Coordinator:Ashley Pearson ( School:School of Law and Society

2024Semester 1

UniSC Sunshine Coast

Blended learning Most of your course is on campus but you may be able to do some components of this course online.

Please go to for up to date information on the
teaching sessions and campuses where this course is usually offered.

What is this course about?


This course examines the way in which law acts upon, is expressed through, and is constituted by cultural texts, artefacts and spaces. You will learn how legal theory is understood and experienced beyond the confines of legal institutions by investigating the way in which various images of law circulating in popular culture (novels, art, movies, television series, comics, video games) depict, critique and distort the legal process, lawyers and jurisprudence. You will explore a series of sustained ‘readings’ of cultural texts and artefacts. You will be asked to reflect and examine a range of texts of popular culture, as well as develop your own ‘cultural legal reading’ of a particular text or texts. 

How will this course be delivered?

Activity Hours Beginning Week Frequency
Blended learning
Learning materials – Learning materials for each week will provide readings and context for each of the workshops. In the second half of the course, the learning materials will focus on developing your essay-writing skills. 1hr Week 1 13 times
Tutorial/Workshop 1 – The workshop will run twice weekly in Weeks 1-6. The first week will consist of introductory lessons on cultural legal studies. Subsequent workshops in each week will involve a combination of explanatory theory session, cultural legal reading presentation, and seminar-style group discussion. Week 7 and will be comprised of the Task 2 Oral Presentations. 4hrs Week 1 7 times

Course Topics

What is Cultural Legal Studies?

Images of Law and Justice

Law and Sovereignty

Speculative Legalities

Rights and Legal Persons

Social Legalities

What level is this course?

400 Level (Graduate)

Demonstrating coherence and breadth or depth of knowledge and skills. Independent application of knowledge and skills in unfamiliar contexts. Meeting professional requirements and AQF descriptors for the degree. May require pre-requisites where discipline specific introductory or developing knowledge or skills is necessary. Normally undertaken in the third or fourth full-time study year of an undergraduate program.

What is the unit value of this course?

12 units

How does this course contribute to my learning?

Course Learning Outcomes On successful completion of this course, you should be able to... Graduate Qualities Completing these tasks successfully will contribute to you becoming...
1 Understand, analyse, judge and critique the cultural, philosophical, political, social and historical contexts in which the ideas of law and legal institutions develop and function in cultural texts and artefacts. Knowledgeable
2 Identify and demonstrate an understanding and appreciation of the cultural constitution of justice and ethics in relation to law. Ethical
3 Apply critical thinking and analysis to generate creative and critical readings of cultural representations of law. Creative and critical thinker
4 Use advanced written and oral communication skills for legal and non-legal audiences. Empowered

Am I eligible to enrol in this course?

Refer to the UniSC Glossary of terms for definitions of “pre-requisites, co-requisites and anti-requisites”.


LAW102 and enrolled in any Law Program OR successful completion of 96 units and enrolled in Business, Creative Industries, Criminology & Justice or Social Science or AB101, UU301, UU302 or XU301.


Not applicable


Not applicable

Specific assumed prior knowledge and skills (where applicable)

The course engages with critical and theoretical analyses of law and justice through an examination of a range of cultural texts. For law students, this builds upon the introduction to legal theory covered in LAW102 Foundations of Australian Law B. For non-law students, some familiarity with any of legal theory, critical theory, philosophy, film studies or cultural studies would be helpful.

How am I going to be assessed?

Grading Scale

Standard Grading (GRD)

High Distinction (HD), Distinction (DN), Credit (CR), Pass (PS), Fail (FL).

Details of early feedback on progress

Formative feedback will provided during the seminars in the form of class discussion of the methods of analysis appropriate to Cultural Legal Studies.

Assessment tasks

Delivery mode Task No. Assessment Product Individual or Group Weighting % What is the duration / length? When should I submit? Where should I submit it?
All 1 Oral and Written Piece Individual 20%
600 words and 1 seminar
Refer to Format In Class
All 2 Oral and Written Piece Individual 30%
5-7 min + 3 pages
Week 7 In Class
All 3 Essay Individual 50%
2,500 words
Week 13 Online Assignment Submission with plagiarism check
All - Assessment Task 1:Class Facilitation and Reflection – Reading Culture, Thinking Law
The goal of the ‘Reading Culture, Thinking Law’ exercises is for you to both gain an in-depth knowledge of the methods of cultural legal studies via the analysis of particular texts, as well as the ability to engage in critical dialogue on those texts.
Product: Oral and Written Piece
Task 1 provides the opportunity for students to develop their skills of cultural legal reading and analysis. Students will elect a seminar discussion in which their participation will be graded. Students will then be required to complete a short written reflection identifying a cultural text or artefacts that deals with the same or similar themes as their chosen seminar.
No. Learning Outcome assessed
Evidence of engagement with materials and questions
1 2
Critical analysis and evaluation of material, including evaluating and making judgments about the representation under analysis
Demonstration of advanced academic writing skills
Effective communication and discussion with peers indicating understanding and analysis of the topic.
All - Assessment Task 2:Research Proposal Seminar
The purpose of the Research Proposal Seminar is two-fold:
1.	It provides students with the opportunity to ‘test-run’ an outline of their Task 3 Essay argument and reading with the course staff prior to submission;
2.	It gives students the opportunity to develop their oral communication skills and gain feedback from their peers on their research proposal.
Product: Oral and Written Piece
This task requires students to prepare a written research proposal (3 pages) and present for 5-7 minutes on their proposed essay topic and text(s). The proposal should include:
-	A brief outline of the popular culture text/texts under analysis;
-	A brief overview of the legal theory/jurisprudence/critical theory being employed in your ‘reading’;
-	A brief explication of your overall reading and argument of the texts.
There will then be time for questions and comments from the staff and students following the presentation.
No. Learning Outcome assessed
Understanding and analysis of the cultural text under consideration
Appropriate nomination and understanding of school of jurisprudence/legal theory/critical theory/area of thought
Clarity and development of overall thesis and reading
Clarity of explanation of proposal summary
Oral communication skills
All - Assessment Task 3:Cultural Legal Essay
The purpose of the Essay is for students to develop their theoretical and critical understanding of law and legal theory in the context of conducting a ‘close reading’ of a particular cultural text or texts. Students must focus on analysis and critique of both the theory and cultural text under consideration. This is more than simple exposition of the text but a sustained analysis of it.
Product: Essay
This is a 2500-word individual written assignment. It involves developing a cultural legal reading of a particular cultural text or artefact discussed in class or of the student’s own choosing.
No. Learning Outcome assessed
Understanding of both cultural text and legal or critical theory being engaged with, as evidenced by engagement with primary and secondary sources
1 2
Ability to engage in critical analysis and think creatively in constructing persuasive arguments, as demonstrated by the development of an original reading, strong thesis, clear development of arguments in support of that thesis, and persuasive pre
Advanced academic communication skills

Directed study hours

A 12-unit course will have total of 150 learning hours which will include directed study hours (including online if required), self-directed learning and completion of assessable tasks. Student workload is calculated at 12.5 learning hours per one unit.

What resources do I need to undertake this course?

Please note: Course information, including specific information of recommended readings, learning activities, resources, weekly readings, etc. are available on the course Canvas site– Please log in as soon as possible.

Prescribed text(s) or course reader

There are no required/recommended resources for this course.

Specific requirements

The focus of this course is on critical engagement with primary sources including films, novels, comics, television series and other cultural artefacts. A list of these will be provided on Canvas, along with places these can be sourced. In some instances, students may need to buy or rent their own copies of the text. In addition, a reading list of relevant secondary sources and required reading will be provided.

How are risks managed in this course?

Health and safety risks for this course have been assessed as low. It is your responsibility to review course material, search online, discuss with lecturers and peers and understand the health and safety risks associated with your specific course of study and to familiarise yourself with the University’s general health and safety principles by reviewing the online induction training for students, and following the instructions of the University staff.

What administrative information is relevant to this course?

Assessment: Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is the ethical standard of university participation.  It ensures that students graduate as a result of proving they are competent in their discipline.  This is integral in maintaining the value of academic qualifications. Each industry has expectations and standards of the skills and knowledge within that discipline and these are reflected in assessment.

Academic integrity means that you do not engage in any activity that is considered to be academic fraud; including plagiarism, collusion or outsourcing any part of any assessment item to any other person.  You are expected to be honest and ethical by completing all work yourself and indicating in your work which ideas and information were developed by you and which were taken from others. You cannot provide your assessment work to others. You are also expected to provide evidence of wide and critical reading, usually by using appropriate academic references.

In order to minimise incidents of academic fraud, this course may require that some of its assessment tasks, when submitted to Canvas, are electronically checked through Turnitin.  This software allows for text comparisons to be made between your submitted assessment item and all other work to which Turnitin has access.

Assessment: Additional Requirements

Eligibility for Supplementary Assessment

Your eligibility for supplementary assessment in a course is dependent of the following conditions applying:

The final mark is in the percentage range 47% to 49.4%
The course is graded using the Standard Grading scale
You have not failed an assessment task in the course due to academic misconduct

Assessment: Submission penalties

Late submission of assessment tasks will be penalised at the following maximum rate:

5% (of the assessment task’s identified value) per day for the first two days from the date identified as the due date for the assessment task
10% (of the assessment task’s identified value) for the third day
20% (of the assessment task’s identified value) for the fourth day and subsequent days up to and including seven days from the date identified as the due date for the assessment task
A result of zero is awarded for an assessment task submitted seven days from the date identified as the due date for the assessment task.
Weekdays and weekends are included in the calculation of days late.

To request an extension, you must contact your Course Coordinator and supply the required documentation to negotiate an outcome.


UniSC is committed to a culture of respect and providing a safe and supportive environment for all members of our community. For immediate assistance on campus contact SafeUniSC by phone: 07 5430 1168 or using the SafeZone app. For general enquires contact the SafeUniSC team by phone 07 5456 3864 or email

The SafeUniSC Specialist Service is a Student Wellbeing service that provides free and confidential support to students who may have experienced or observed behaviour that could cause fear, offence or trauma. To contact the service call 07 5430 1226 or email

Study help

For help with course-specific advice, for example what information to include in your assessment, you should first contact your tutor, then your course coordinator, if needed.

If you require additional assistance, the Learning Advisers are trained professionals who are ready to help you develop a wide range of academic skills. Visit the Learning Advisers web page for more information, or contact Student Central for further assistance: +61 7 5430 2890 or

Wellbeing Services

Student Wellbeing provide free and confidential counselling on a wide range of personal, academic, social and psychological matters, to foster positive mental health and wellbeing for your academic success.

To book a confidential appointment go to Student Hub, email or call 07 5430 1226.

AccessAbility Services

Ability Advisers ensure equal access to all aspects of university life. If your studies are affected by a disability, learning disorder mental health issue, injury or illness, or you are a primary carer for someone with a disability or who is considered frail and aged, AccessAbility Services can provide access to appropriate reasonable adjustments and practical advice about the support and facilities available to you throughout the University.

To book a confidential appointment go to Student Hub, email or call 07 5430 2890.

Links to relevant University policy and procedures

For more information on Academic Learning & Teaching categories including:

  • Assessment: Courses and Coursework Programs
  • Review of Assessment and Final Grades
  • Supplementary Assessment
  • Central Examinations
  • Deferred Examinations
  • Student Conduct
  • Students with a Disability

For more information, visit

Student Charter

UniSC is committed to excellence in teaching, research and engagement in an environment that is inclusive, inspiring, safe and respectful. The Student Charter sets out what students can expect from the University, and what in turn is expected of students, to achieve these outcomes.

General Enquiries

  • In person:
    • UniSC Sunshine Coast - Student Central, Ground Floor, Building C, 90 Sippy Downs Drive, Sippy Downs
    • UniSC Moreton Bay - Service Centre, Ground Floor, Foundation Building, Gympie Road, Petrie
    • UniSC SouthBank - Student Central, Building A4 (SW1), 52 Merivale Street, South Brisbane
    • UniSC Gympie - Student Central, 71 Cartwright Road, Gympie
    • UniSC Fraser Coast - Student Central, Student Central, Building A, 161 Old Maryborough Rd, Hervey Bay
    • UniSC Caboolture - Student Central, Level 1 Building J, Cnr Manley and Tallon Street, Caboolture
  • Tel:+61 7 5430 2890