Sociological Theories of Law (LAWS5162)


The unit of study will introduce the student to the basic concepts of sociological theory and methodology and will show how these concepts can be applied to the observation of the functioning of law. On the basis of such a primary understanding of how societies organise themselves and their law it will become possible for the student to appreciate and evaluate critically the efforts of socio-legal research and the conceptions of some major contributors to the sociological theory of law. The first part of this unit will look at what sociological theory and research can offer today in the description of social life, the explanation of how societies are organised, why people do what they do. Elementary sociological concepts like norm, role, group, power, class, social structure and social system will be related to the operation of the law. Concepts like these provide the tools which make it possible to examine and study systematically and carefully the social organisation and structure of legal systems, the operation and the social environments in which and in relation to which they are operating.

Our courses that offer this unit of study

Further unit of study information


2x2-hr seminars/week for 10 weeks


1,000-2,000wd research note (40%) and 3,750-5,000wd research paper (60%)

Faculty/department permission required?


Unit of study rules


JURS3001 or LAWS3462

Additional Information

This unit satisfies the Jurisprudence/Part 3 requirement of the JD.

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.