• Offered by ANU Law School
  • ANU College ANU College of Law
  • Course subject Laws
  • Areas of interest Law
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Mary Spiers Williams
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in First Semester 2018
    See Future Offerings

This course offers an opportunity to engage in a critical analysis of the criminal justice system and the criminal law, using some contemporary approaches from the fields of criminology, criminal justice, penology and sociolegal studies.
The course will give students an opportunity to understand the role of key participants in the criminal justice field, including police, prosecutors, judicial officers, other law-makers from the legislative and executive arms of government, and defence lawyers. Students will analyse how criminalisation can occur, including examining  
• why some behaviours/omissions/statuses are criminalised and others not;
• the impact of discretionary choices by justice actors on the criminalisation of individuals;
• the impact of criminalisation of some individuals on their social/cultural group;
• the differential impact of the criminal justice system on some social/cultural  groups relative to others;
• why indigenous people are so starkly overrepresented at all levels of the criminal justice system;
• the role and extent of summary justice in the criminal justice system; and,
• the impact on criminalisation of pre-trial processes, such as police powers and practices, bail and plea bargaining.
This course will also supplement existing doctrinal knowledge of criminal law, by introducing students to key areas of criminal law: bail law, police powers, public order offences, drug offences and sentencing, and will also expose students to some emerging areas of criminal law.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

On successful completion of this course, students should be able to:
1. Explain, distinguish and apply different theoretical approaches to criminal law arising from various academic disciplines and methodologies (including critical criminal justice, critical criminology, and sociolegal studies)
2. Use this advanced knowledge and skill to analyse and theorise about a range of complex issues, both historical and contemporary, concerning the construction of the criminal law and its impacts on individuals and social groups, including marginal groups and dominant groups.
3. Explain, distinguish and evaluate the differential impact of the criminal law on vulnerable individuals and marginalised groups, including the way that gender, class, race, indigeneity and/or sexuality can intersect and affect criminal justice outcomes,
4. Identify, analyse and reflect upon the role of the state and other actors in the regulation of conduct that is categorised as criminal.

Indicative Assessment

Class presentation & participation
Annotated bibliography
Court report   1250 words
Research essay  2500 words  

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


Three contact hours per week. Students are generally expected to devote at least 10 hours overall per week to this course.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must be studying a program which includes the Bachelor of Laws and completed or be completing five LAWS courses at 1000 level, and completed LAWS1203 Torts and LAWS1206 Criminal Law and Procedure OR Juris Doctor and completed or be completing five LAWS courses at 6100 level, and completed LAWS1203/6203 Torts and LAWS1206/6106 Criminal Law and Procedure OR Juris Doctor (Online) and have completed LAWS8712 Australian Public Law and International Law B

Prescribed Texts

Steel, Alex, et al. Criminal Laws: Materials and commentary on criminal law and process in NSW. (2015). 6th ed.

Preliminary Reading

Chapter 1, Steel, Alex, et al. Criminal Laws: Materials and commentary on criminal law and process in NSW. (2015). 6th ed.


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2018 $3420
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2018 $4860
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
4959 19 Feb 2018 27 Feb 2018 31 Mar 2018 25 May 2018 In Person N/A

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