Critical Issues in Public Health Law (LAWS6839)


This unit provides an introduction to key topics in public health law, and a foundation for further study in this field. It begins by exploring the use of law - both historically and conceptually - as a tool for protecting the public's health, for responding to health risks and implementing strategies designed to promote public health. It reviews the sources of public health law, considers the strategies that law can deploy to protect and promote health, as well as debates about the appropriate limits for law in the protection of public health in a liberal democracy.
The unit also provides a review of the law's role within several critical areas, including: acute public health threats (with a focus on SARS, pandemic influenza, and bioterrorism); sexual health and STIs; and tobacco control.
Key topics include: The definition and role of public health law; Case studies illustrating the sources of public health law; The legal framework for managing pandemic influenza and other acute public health threats; An introduction to tobacco control law; and Law's role in promoting sexual health.
Throughout the unit, students will be trained to identify legal issues and to explore their health significance, or impact on population health. Students will be encouraged and expected to critically evaluate the success of public health laws and their underlying strategies for protecting and promoting health. Students will also explore the tension between the public health interest, and competing public and private interests.
Students wishing to extend their knowledge of public health law can enrol in the companion unit, LAWS6848 Law and Healthy Lifestyles. These units comprise a core program in public health law.

Our courses that offer this unit of study

Further unit of study information


Intro Class:Aug 29 (6-8) then Sep 5, 6 & Oct 6, 7 (9-4.30)


short response question (20%) and 6000wd essay (80%) or short response question (20%), 3000-3500wd essay (40%) and take-home exam (40%) or short response question (20%) and two 3000-3500wd essays (80%)

Faculty/department permission required?


Unit of study rules

Additional Information

Core unit for GradDipPubHL students. MHL students may select this unit as one of the three core units required in addition to LAWS6252 or LAWS6881.

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.