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Sentencing: Law, Policy and Practice - LAWS8201

Faculty: Faculty of Law
School:  Faculty of Law
Course Outline: See below
Campus: Kensington Campus
Career: Postgraduate
Units of Credit: 6
EFTSL: 0.12500 (more info)
Indicative Contact Hours per Week: 2
Enrolment Requirements:
Prerequisite: Academic Program must be either 9200, 9210, 9230, 9235, 9285, 5740, 5235, 5285
Excluded: JURD7601
CSS Contribution Charge:Band 1 (more info)
Further Information: See Class Timetable


This course is designed to provide students with an opportunity to examine in detail one of law's most challenging topics. Sentencing has been called a "painful and unrewarding task". Integrating some rigorous analysis of doctrinal sentencing law with a broader interdisciplinary approach, the course will discuss questions such as - what guidance should judges be given in determining sentences? Can or should the punishment fit the crime? Does harsh sentencing deter crime? What can be done about persistent offenders? What should the role of appeal courts be? What, if anything, should public opinion have to do with sentencing? This course begins with a legal analysis of the rules and practice of sentencing and then explores more philosophical and sociological aspects.

LLM Specialisation

Recommended Prior Knowledge


Course Objectives

The objectives of the course are to:
  • Introduce the general principles of Australian sentencing law
  • Provide the intellectual foundation for independent research into specific aspects of Australian and comparative sentencing law
  • Develop the capacity to analyse and criticise legal and political arguments regarding sentencing in Australia
  • Identify and understand likely changes to the Australian sentencing system

Main Topics

  • The jurisprudence regulating the individual sentencing discretion
  • The principles governing the adjustment of the outcome of the sentencing decision in response to features of the broader sentencing system
  • The legal framework and debate over the techniques for informing sentencing decision-making
  • Sentencing theory and policy


General class participation Participation in class discussion 10%
Assigned class participation 5 - 10 minute talk 10%
Research assignment At least 5,000 words 80%
Note:  A pass mark (40/80 or higher) is required for the research assignment in order to pass the course.

Course Texts

Refer to Course Outline provided by lecturer at the beginning of session.

Arie Freiberg and Karen Gelb (Eds) Penal Populism, Sentencing Councils and Sentencing Policy, Hawkins Press, 2008


Refer to Course Outline provided by lecturer at the beginning of session.

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© The University of New South Wales (CRICOS Provider No.: 00098G), 2004-2011. The information contained in this Handbook is indicative only. While every effort is made to keep this information up-to-date, the University reserves the right to discontinue or vary arrangements, programs and courses at any time without notice and at its discretion. While the University will try to avoid or minimise any inconvenience, changes may also be made to programs, courses and staff after enrolment. The University may also set limits on the number of students in a course.