Philosophy of Law (LAWS5154)


This unit of study will introduce the fundamental notions of jurisprudence understood as a theory about the aims, functions and values of law and legal system. It will aim to provide students with the critical understanding of the central issues in philosophy of law understood as a general, abstract, normative reflection on law as such rather than an examination of a concrete legal system. Nevertheless, the purpose will be to provide students with the conceptual means allowing them to conduct a critical scrutiny of particular legal systems and legal rules with which they are familiar. The course will consider, in particular (1) the notions of legitimacy, validity and authority of law; (2) the idea of rights and the nature of the rights discourse; (3) the justifications and limits of liberty rights; (4) the concept of justice, as applied to law, (5) the sources and limits of our obligation to obey the law, etc.

Our courses that offer this unit of study

Further unit of study information


Berlin: Taught intensively in July. Sydney: 2 x 2-hr seminars / wk for 10 weeks.


Berlin: Pre-course 2000wd reaction note (20%), class participation (20%), 4000wd take-home exam (60%). Sydney: Class participation (20%), class presentation and 1000wd essay or written note (30%), 3000wd take-home exam (50%).

Faculty/department permission required?


Unit of study rules


LAWS3459 or LAWS3454

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.