• Offered by ANU Law School
  • ANU College ANU College of Law
  • Classification Advanced
  • Course subject Laws
  • Areas of interest Law
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Jelena Gligorijevic
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in Winter Session 2020
    See Future Offerings

In this course we will explore, critique and apply various aspects of the law that affect the media, and newsgathering and reportage practices. We will analyse the normative underpinnings of press freedom, before examining the ways in which the law protects media and journalists as such, and the ways in which media and journalists, as such, are regulated by law. We will analyse, evaluate and apply laws that can restrict media and journalists, including state surveillance powers, defamation law, privacy protection, trespass, and contempt of court. 

Throughout this course, we will interrogate the law’s adequacy in either protecting or restricting media practices, taking into account relevant aspects of the political, social and information-technology context. We will in this regard evaluate the normative, constitutional importance of media and the press, and critically relate this historical-theoretical dimension to current issues affecting media dissemination and consumption, including defamation reform, press freedom and national security, ‘fake news’, social media, and liability for online communications.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Evaluate the theoretical underpinnings of press freedom, and contrast them with the various normative reasons for restricting media activities, including national security, due process of law, and reputational and privacy rights.
  2. Construct and defend rationales for dealing with the conflict between the competing theoretical perspectives of freedom and openness in media communication on the one hand, and protection of national security and individual reputation and privacy, on the other.
  3. Evaluate a range of newsgathering activities and information-content, to identify potential liability in legislation, regulation, or common law, and then synthesise the law’s requirements and the given facts, to formulate legal arguments establishing liability and any defences.
  4. Critically analyse the ways in which the law currently purports to protect press freedom, and, within the constraints of Australia’s constitutional setting and applicable common law doctrines, devise ways of better securing or increasing press freedom in the law.
  5. Critically analyse the ways in which media law currently purports to protect individual privacy, and, within the constraints of Australia’s constitutional setting and applicable common law doctrines, devise ways of better securing or increasing individual privacy in the media law context.
  6. Design and evaluate strategies for communicating, negotiating with and representing key stakeholders, including media clients, media regulators, national security agencies, and individuals seeking remedies against media, on liability arising from newsgathering and reportage activities, as well as on the limits of state power as deployed against the media.
  7. Plan and conduct a project to research and critically analyse how adequately the law reflects the importance of protecting press freedom, the legitimate limitations on that freedom, and the implications that online communications technology and ‘fake news’ have for the law’s capacity to strike the right balance between freedom and censorship.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Research essay (3,000 words) (40) [LO 1,2,4,5,7]
  2. Case study covering a range of topics taught (50) [LO 1,2,3,4,5,6,7]
  3. In-class participation (10) [LO 1,2,3,4,5,6,7]

In response to COVID-19: Please note that Semester 2 Class Summary information (available under the classes tab) is as up to date as possible. Changes to Class Summaries not captured by this publication will be available to enrolled students via Wattle. 

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.


Classes offered in non-standard sessions will be taught on an intensive base with compulsory contact hours (approximately 26 hours of face to face teaching). The course will also require advanced preparation through assigned readings. In total, it is anticipated that the hours required for completion of this course (class preparation, teaching and completion of assessment) will not exceed 120 hours. Classes offered during semester periods are expected to have 3 contact hours per week.

Click here for the LLM Masters Program timetable.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must be studying a: Master of Laws (7300XLLM, MLLM), Master of Laws in Migration (NLLML), Master of Laws in International Law (NLLIL), Master of Laws in Environmental Law (NLLEN), Master of Laws in Law, Governance & Development (NLLGD), Master of Laws in International Security Law (NLLSL), Master of Laws in Government and Regulation (NLLGR), Master of Legal Practice (MLEGP), OR Juris Doctor (7330XJD, 7330HJD or MJD) and have completed or be completing five 1000 level LAWS courses or five 6100 level LAWS courses; OR Graduate Certificate of Law (CLAW) and have completed or be completing LAWS8586 Law and Legal Institutions; OR Master of Military Law (MMILL). Students undertaking any ANU graduate program may apply for this course. Enrolments are accepted on a case-by-case basis. Please contact the ANU College of Law for permission number.

Prescribed Texts

Students must rely on the approved Class Summary which will be posted to the Programs and Courses site approximately 2 weeks prior to the commencement of the course.


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
2020 $4320
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $5760
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.

Winter Session

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
6730 07 Sep 2020 07 Sep 2020 18 Sep 2020 30 Oct 2020 Online View

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