The Rule of Law and its Value (LAWS5195)


This course will explore the nature and value of the rule of law through a critical examination of classical and contemporary writings in jurisprudence. Among the problems we will consider are: What features of a legal system contribute to bringing about the rule of law? What is 'legality'? What is the relationship between the rule of law and the rule of good law? Is it always a virtue, other things being equal, to apply valid legal rules? How far is the rule of law consistent with the indeterminacy of law or with discretionary decision-making? Is the rule of law an 'unqualified human good'? Why is it good? Should the rule of law ever be sacrificed for the sake of other goods? What does the World Justice Project Rule of Law Index measure? Is it defensible from a jurisprudential point of view, and useful in determining the nature and value of the rule of law? Readings will include historical sources from the ancient Greek and early modern periods, contemporary essays in legal, moral, and political theory, and other primary legal sources.

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Further unit of study information


2x2hr seminars/wk


Class participation (10%), 1500wd mid-semester report (30%), and 4000wd essay (60%)

Faculty/department permission required?


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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.