• 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

In contrast to classical jurisprudence critical theory asserts that law is the reflection of the political values. It examines the how law is connected to contemporary political issues, among others, including those related to gender, sexual orientation, race, environment and economics. This course introduces major concepts, questions and perspectives that are important for a critical engagement with the problem of law in contemporary life. It questions the importance and meaning of being ‘critical’ and interrogates the relationship between law and justice. By following a set of topics fundamental for critical theory the course eflects on the problems of sovereignty, subjectivity, violence, judgment or the nature of government. By applying these critical legal perspectives to a range of contemporary problems and situations the course will show the relevance of critical theory to contemporary study of law and equip the students with the ability to deal with theoretical questions pertaining to issues such as biotechnology, social media, political protest, interdisciplinarity, human rights, social equality or refugee law. This course will review the thought and concepts of the most important critical figures in Western philosophy including Karl Marx, Antonio Gramsci, Giorgio Agamben, Michel Foucault or Jacques Derrida. 

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Identify central concepts, principles, and debates of contemporary critical legal theory.
  2. Distinguish between and investigate the relationship between normative and critical legal theories.
  3. Critically evaluate existing legal concepts, practices, techniques and phenomena
  4. Critically interpret the role of law in modernity and the way modern law shapes contemporary legal, political and cultural relations
  5. Investigate the place of law among other academic disciplines, practices and concepts.
  6. Plan and execute an independent research essay.

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. Research essay (5,000 words) (70) [LO 2,3,4,5,6]
  2. Reflective journal covering research methodologies 20% (20) [LO 1,2]
  3. Preparation of discussion group 10% (10) [LO 4,5]

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 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 (LLB, LLB(H)) and have completed or be completing five 1000 level LAWS courses; OR Juris Doctor (7330XJD, 7330HJD or MJD) and have completed or be completing five 1000 or 6100 level LAWS courses. You are not able to enrol in this course if you have previously completed LAWS8488 Critical Legal Theory.

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
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

There are no current offerings for this course.

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