Media Law: Defamation and Privacy (LAWS5128)


This unit of study analyses two areas of law which have a significant impact on the daily practice of journalism. Both of these areas of law relate to the personal interests of private plaintiffs and the legal recourse such plaintiffs may have against media outlets. The tort of defamation, which protects a plaintiff's reputation, is a well-established cause of action which notoriously has a "chilling" effect on what the media publishes. By contrast, direct legal protection of privacy against invasions by the media is a rapidly developing area of law in Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and the European Union. This unit of study provides a detailed examination of the principles of defamation law relating to liability, defences and remedies. It also examines how different common law legal systems are developing direct legal protection for individuals' privacy against intrusive media coverage. This unit of study provides a thorough doctrinal analysis of defamation, privacy and breach of confidence, as well as placing these areas of law in their broader historical, international, comparative, social and cultural contexts.

Our courses that offer this unit of study

Further unit of study information


2x2hr seminars/week for 10 weeks


Four options: 1) 2,500wd assignment (30%) and 2hr exam (70%); 2) 3,500wd essay (40%) and 2hr exam (60%); 3) 2,500wd assignment (30%) and 3,500wd essay (40%) and hr exam (30%); or 4) 3hr exam (100%).

Faculty/department permission required?


Unit of study rules


LAWS3059 or LAWS3428

Study this unit outside a degree

Non-award/non-degree study

If you wish to undertake one or more units of study (subjects) for your own interest but not towards a degree, you may enrol in single units as a non-award student.

Cross-institutional study

If you are from another Australian tertiary institution you may be permitted to underake cross-institutional study in one or more units of study at the University of Sydney.