• Code LAWS4234
  • Unit Value 6 to 12 units
  • Offered by ANU Law School
  • ANU College ANU College of Law
  • Course subject Laws
  • Areas of interest Law
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Mode of delivery In Person

The purpose of the course is to introduce students to the legal, ethical, regulatory, economic and social issues that are associated with human interaction with animals.

The former President of the Australian Law Reform Commission Professor David Weisbrot suggested that "animal welfare" is likely to become the next great social justice movement in Australia, observing that the treatment of animals is "increasingly becoming a social and legal issue, as well as an important economic one."  Why is this?  There is a growing understanding in society of the importance of respect and protection of animals as an indicator of the ethical maturity of a society.  

The way in which society exploits animals for our entertainment, pleasure and consumption therefore raises profound moral, ethical and legal issues.  Accordingly, "ethical animal welfare, the protection of animals for their own sake as sentient beings with a capacity for suffering, is no doubt one of the basic values of modern western states."  This interaction between human activities and animal interests is a serious area of academic inquiry giving rise to significant legal regulatory and socio-ethical issues.

Adopting an inter-disciplinary approach, this new elective course will consider animals within established categories of law such as property, (for example, s.2 of the Australian Consumer Law and s 4 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) defines "goods" to include animals), but will also examine the legal status and regulation of the treatment of within broader social, philosophical and legal contexts.  This includes an economic and scientific context, an environmental context, and an ethical-political context. 

Students will therefore be challenged in their traditional understanding of animals as they are conceptualised in law (including underlying philosophical assumptions) and to critically evaluate the way the legal system influences the interests of animals within society.

In this way, an examination of animals through prevailing and traditional legal doctrines is critiqued and evaluated through the insights of other academic disciplines such as philosophy, economics and science.  This approach will provide students with an opportunity for critical reflection on the legal and ethical interaction between humans and animals as manifested in the law.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. define, describe and apply in a coherent fashion an advanced knowledge of animal welfare and anti-cruelty legislation, together with other ways in which the law regulates animals, to provide solutions to complex problems with intellectual independence;
  2. Critically evaluate the legal and philosophical characterisation of animal interests;
  3. Outline, summarise and/or synthesise a clear and coherent body of knowledge in ways that can be comprehended by peers and the course lecturer;
  4. Plan and complete a research project, with some independence.
  5. Evaluate the principal animal welfare and anti-cruelty legislation and the enforcement of that legislation by interest groups.

Other Information

Classes may be offered in non-standard sessions and be taught on an intensive base with compulsory contact hours (a minimum of 36 hours). Please refer to the LLB timetable for dates. Please contact the ANU College of Law Student Administration Services to request a permission code to enrol in classes offered in non-standard sessions.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Class participation (10) [LO null]
  2. Class presentation (40) [LO null]
  3. Research paper 2500 words (50) [LO null]

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Classes offered during semester periods are expected to have 3 contact hours per week (a minimum of 36 hours). Students are generally expected to devote at least 10 hours overall per week to this course.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must be studying a: Bachelor of Laws (ALLB, BLLBA) and have completed or be completing five 1000 level LAWS courses; or Juris Doctor (MJD), and have completed or be completing five 1000 or 6100 level LAWS courses.

Prescribed Texts

Not applicable


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

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you 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). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 to 12 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
7.00 0.14583
8.00 0.16667
9.00 0.18750
10.00 0.20833
11.00 0.22917
12.00 0.25000
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2021 $695 per unit
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2021 $930 per unit
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.

There are no current offerings for this course.

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