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Contempt and the Media - JURD7741
 Graduation Group

Faculty: Faculty of Law
School:  School of Law
Course Outline: See below
Campus: Kensington Campus
Career: Postgraduate
Units of Credit: 4
EFTSL: 0.08333 (more info)
Indicative Contact Hours per Week: 2
Excluded: JURD7342, LAWS3034, LAWS3041, LAWS3042
Fee Band:   (more info)
Further Information: See Class Timetable


This course is concerned with laws that impose significant legal restrictions upon what the media, or other communicators to large-scale audiences, may publish under Australian law. The focus is on traditional mass media, though due attention is made to the emergence of new technologies of electronic communication. The course begins with some consideration of the meaning or meanings of freedom of expression and the extent to which it is protected in general terms under Australian constitutional law. The focus then turns to specific laws having a significant daily impact on the contents of publications. Many of the topics have a long, if not necessarily distinguished, history in English and Australian law. But some of the restrictions being studied are of very recent origin: for example, it was only in 1989 that specific restrictions on publications inciting racial hatred were introduced into New South Wales.

LLM Specialisation

Media, Communications and Information Technology Law.

Recommended Prior Knowledge


Course Objectives

Overall, the aim of the course is to acquaint you with:
  • The general principles and some of the legal intricacies in each of the topics
  • The thematic links between them
  • Some aspects of their operation in practice
  • Some historical, comparative and policy aspects

Main Topics

  • Free speech versus judicial authority
  • Free speech versus fair trial
  • Reporting court proceedings


Research essay OR take-home exam 3,000 - 4,500 words 90%
Class participation  Preparation and engagement in class 10%

Course Texts


  • D Butler and S Rodrick, Australian Media Law (LBC, 1999)
  • M Armstrong, D Lindsay & R Watterson, Media Law in Australia, (3rd ed, 1995) L/KN340/A9/2 - this is useful introductory reading.


The Law School Materials and Cases will constitute the principal reading. They will be distributed in classes, together with one-page guides indicating the most important readings.

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