Law and Healthy Lifestyles

19 July 2012

This unit responds to the growing interest in law and non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

Cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and tobacco-related diseases are society's greatest killers, but what can - and should - law be doing to prevent and control them?

Law's relationship with behavioural risk factors including tobacco use, poor diet, obesity, the harmful use of alcohol, and a sedentary lifestyle is complex and contested.

At the same time, governments around the world are experimenting with a wide range of legal strategies to reduce risk factors for NCDs and to create healthier societies.

Law & Health Lifestyles focuses in particular on legal strategies for encouraging healthier lifestyles in Australia and the United States.

Law and regulation are important tools for improving the public's health, especially through the contribution they make to healthy environments which facilitate and support healthy lifestyles.

The aim of this unit is to equip students to think powerfully about law's role in supporting healthier lifestyles, and to participate effectively in debates about appropriate, workable, legal and regulatory interventions.

Against the background of growing international interest in NCDs, and through a comparative approach which draws on legal responses to NCDs in both Australia and the United States, students will explore the tension between personal responsibility and freedom, and the broader public interest in a healthy and productive population.

Key topics include:

  • Frameworks for thinking about law, NCDs and lifestyle-related risk factors
  • The global response to the epidemic of NCDs
  • Personal responsibility for health, and the role of law and public health regulation
  • Future challenges for tobacco control
  • Regulating alcohol
  • Obesity prevention
  • Public health nutrition, and active living

Throughout the unit, students will be encouraged to critically evaluate the success of the strategies law adopts to protect and promote public health, to explore new strategies that law might adopt, and to reflect on the tension between the public interest in protecting health, and competing interests.


Semester 2 Intensive

6 August (Introduction), 16-17 August & 13-14 September 2012

Seminar Room 105

Sydney Law School (F10)

University of Sydney NSW 2006


  • 1x short response question (20%)
  • 1 x 6,000 word essay (80%)


  • 1 x short response question (20%)
  • 1 x 3,000-3,500 word essay (40%)
  • 1 x take-home exam question (40%)


  • 1x short response question (20%)
  • 2x 3000-3,500 word essays (80%)

Law & Health Lifestyles is available to study through the following Sydney Law School degree programmes:

· Master of Laws (LLM) or Graduate Diploma in Law (GradDipLaw)

· Master of Global Law (MGlobL)

· Master of Health Law (MHL) or Graduate Diploma in Health Law (GradDipHL)

· Graduate Diploma in Public Health Law (GradDipPubHL)

Legal practitioners can count this unit of study towards Mandatory Continuing Legal Educaiton (MCLE) or Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

Candidates can also enrol in this subject on a Legal Professional Development (LPD), Single Unit Enrolment or Cross-Institutional basis.

Candidates can elect to complete the assessment, claim the MCLE or CPD points and then count the unit towards a degree at a later stage.

Alternatively, candidates can elect not to complete the assessment but still claim the MCLE or CPD points.

For further enquiries or to apply or enrol, please contact the Postgraduate Team.

Contact: Greg Sherington

Phone: +61 2 9351 0202

Email: 0b433d02593a31211f2d5c160c362523390b4b59021d18222f3261271d