Faculty of Law

Postgraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2014 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 3, 0.125 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered, or view unit timetables.

FacultyFaculty of Law
OfferedCity (Melbourne) Trimester 3 2014 (On-campus block of classes)


Quota applies

Postgraduate programs are based on a model of small group teaching and therefore class sizes need to be restricted.


This unit will comprise a detailed study of Australia's defamation laws:

  1. Defamation laws as a mechanism for balancing freedom of speech and the right to reputation;
  2. Australia's current system of uniform defamation laws;
  3. The residual relevance and operation of common law principles;
  4. Comparative analysis of corresponding principles in England and the United States;
  5. Application of defamation laws to new media including the Internet;
  6. Alternatives to defamation law;
  7. Defamation law in practice, from pre-publication to trial by jury.


Students successfully completing this unit should:

  1. understand Australia's new uniform defamation laws and how they differ from the previous regime of differing State and Territory laws
  2. have a thorough knowledge of the elements of the cause of action, the operation of defences and remedies
  3. appreciate the differences between the way in which freedom of expression is protected in Australia, England and the United States
  4. recognise the advantages and disadvantages of defamation law as a cause of action when compared to available alternatives
  5. understand the operation of choice of law principles where defamatory matter is published across multiple jurisdictions, including via the Internet
  6. develop the skills necessary to provide effective pre-publication advice
  7. have an awareness of how defamation trials are conducted from the perspective of both plaintiffs and defendants.


One research assignment (3750 words): 50%
One take-home examination (3750 words): 50%

Chief examiner(s)

Workload requirements

24 contact hours per semester (either intensive, semi-intensive or semester long, depending on the Faculty resources, timetabling and requirements)