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LAWS13-527: Media and Communications Law January 2020 [Standard]

General information

Media and Communications Law is an undergraduate elective subject offered by the Faculty of Law. This subject deals with the law relating to communications media in the information society. It covers early controls and censorship of print media; freedom of expression and the Australian Constitution; defamation and the media; privacy, confidentiality and publicity; freedom of information; obscenity, blasphemy and sedition; copyright; free speech, contempt of court and parliament; regulation of the print media; radio and TV licensing; the multi-media revolution; the Internet and telecommunications regulation.


Academic unit:Faculty of Law
Subject code:LAWS13-527
Subject title:Media and Communications Law
Subject level:Undergraduate
Semester/Year:January 2020
Credit points:10

Delivery & attendance

Delivery mode:


Workload items:
  • Seminar: x12 (Total hours: 36) - Weekly seminar
  • Personal Study Hours: x12 (Total hours: 84) - Recommended study hours
Attendance and learning activities: Students must attend at least 8 seminars in addition to their oral presentation session. Absence from seminars will affect class participation marks.


Prescribed resources:
  • Butler and Rodrick (2015). Australian Media Law. 5th, Thomson Reuters
  • George, Allen, Benson, Collins, Mattson, Munsie, Rubagotti and Stuart (2014). Social Media and the Law. [Book] Lexis Nexis.
  • Keyzer, Pearson and Johnston (2012). The Courts and the Media: Challenges in the Era of Digital and Social Media. [Book] Halstead.
  • Rolph, Vitins and Bannister (2012). Media Law: Cases, Materials and Commentary. [Book] Oxford University Press.
After enrolment, students can check the Books and Tools area in iLearn for the full Resource List.
[email protected] & Email:[email protected] is the online learning environment at Bond University and is used to provide access to subject materials, lecture recordings and detailed subject information regarding the subject curriculum, assessment and timing. Both iLearn and the Student Email facility are used to provide important subject notifications. Additionally, official correspondence from the University will be forwarded to students’ Bond email account and must be monitored by the student.

To access these services, log on to the Student Portal from the Bond University website as

Enrolment requirements

Requisites: ?


Assumed knowledge:

Assumed knowledge is the minimum level of knowledge of a subject area that students are assumed to have acquired through previous study. It is the responsibility of students to ensure they meet the assumed knowledge expectations of the subject. Students who do not possess this prior knowledge are strongly recommended against enrolling and do so at their own risk. No concessions will be made for students’ lack of prior knowledge.

Assumed Prior Learning (or equivalent):

Restrictions: ?

This subject is not available as a general elective. To be eligible for enrolment, the subject must be specified in the students’ program structure.

Assurance of learning

Assurance of Learning means that universities take responsibility for creating, monitoring and updating curriculum, teaching and assessment so that students graduate with the knowledge, skills and attributes they need for employability and/or further study.

At Bond University, we carefully develop subject and program outcomes to ensure that student learning in each subject contributes to the whole student experience. Students are encouraged to carefully read and consider subject and program outcomes as combined elements.

Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs)

Program Learning Outcomes provide a broad and measurable set of standards that incorporate a range of knowledge and skills that will be achieved on completion of the program. If you are undertaking this subject as part of a degree program, you should refer to the relevant degree program outcomes and graduate attributes as they relate to this subject.

Find your program

Subject Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

On successful completion of this subject the learner will be able to:
  1. Understand the philosophical foundations of free speech and controls on free speech, and how free speech is or is not protected within Australia and internationally.
  2. Appreciate the competing normative claims of legal doctrines relating to defamation, contempt, privacy, etc.
  3. Demonstrate capacity to identify and apply doctrines, principles and rules relating to media law to contemporary, novel legal challenges.
  4. Understand the contemporary issues and debates relating to media law.


Assessment details

TypeTask%Timing*Outcomes assessed
*Class Participation Class Participation 15% Weekly 1, 2, 3, 4.
Presentation 10-15 Minute Class Presentation 25% Week 9 1, 2, 3, 4.
Essay Individual Essay on approved topic (5,000 words) 60% Week 12 1, 2, 3, 4.
  • * Assessment timing is indicative of the week that the assessment is due or begins (where conducted over multiple weeks), and is based on the standard University academic calendar
  • C = Students must reach a level of competency to successfully complete this assessment.

Assessment criteria

High Distinction 85-100 Outstanding or exemplary performance in the following areas: interpretative ability; intellectual initiative in response to questions; mastery of the skills required by the subject, general levels of knowledge and analytic ability or clear thinking.
Distinction 75-84 Usually awarded to students whose performance goes well beyond the minimum requirements set for tasks required in assessment, and who perform well in most of the above areas.
Credit 65-74 Usually awarded to students whose performance is considered to go beyond the minimum requirements for work set for assessment. Assessable work is typically characterised by a strong performance in some of the capacities listed above.
Pass 50-64 Usually awarded to students whose performance meets the requirements set for work provided for assessment.
Fail 0-49 Usually awarded to students whose performance is not considered to meet the minimum requirements set for particular tasks. The fail grade may be a result of insufficient preparation, of inattention to assignment guidelines or lack of academic ability. A frequent cause of failure is lack of attention to subject or assignment guidelines.

Quality assurance

For the purposes of quality assurance, Bond University conducts an evaluation process to measure and document student assessment as evidence of the extent to which program and subject learning outcomes are achieved. Some examples of student work will be retained for potential research and quality auditing purposes only. Any student work used will be treated confidentially and no student grades will be affected.

Study information

Submission procedures

Students must check the [email protected] subject site for detailed assessment information and submission procedures.

Policy on late submission and extensions

A late penalty will be applied to all overdue assessment tasks unless an extension is granted by the subject coordinator. The standard penalty will be 10% of marks awarded to that assessment per day late with no assessment to be accepted seven days after the due date. Where a student is granted an extension, the penalty of 10% per day late starts from the new due date.

Policy on plagiarism

University’s Academic Integrity Policy defines plagiarism as the act of misrepresenting as one’s own original work: another’s ideas, interpretations, words, or creative works; and/or one’s own previous ideas, interpretations, words, or creative work without acknowledging that it was used previously (i.e., self-plagiarism). The University considers the act of plagiarising to be a breach of the Student Conduct Code and, therefore, subject to the Discipline Regulations which provide for a range of penalties including the reduction of marks or grades, fines and suspension from the University.

Bond University utilises Originality Reporting software to inform academic integrity.

Feedback on assessment

Feedback on assessment will be provided to students within two weeks of the assessment submission due date, as per the Assessment Policy.

Accessibility and Inclusion Support

If you have a disability, illness, injury or health condition that impacts your capacity to complete studies, exams or assessment tasks, it is important you let us know your special requirements, early in the semester. Students will need to make an application for support and submit it with recent, comprehensive documentation at an appointment with a Disability Officer. Students with a disability are encouraged to contact the Disability Office at the earliest possible time, to meet staff and learn about the services available to meet your specific needs. Please note that late notification or failure to disclose your disability can be to your disadvantage as the University cannot guarantee support under such circumstances.

Additional subject information

Students must attend at least 8 seminars in addition to their oral presentation session. Absence from seminars will affect class participation marks. | Students may be asked to respond to questions from the subject coordinator regarding the content of their assessments. Students are expected to keep evidence of drafting and research.

Subject curriculum

Students will be provided with an overview of Subject Topics and Materials, as well as an introduction to the concepts and principles underlying Media and Communications Law.

1, 4.

Students will consider the history and philosophies of free speech, the constitutional protection of free speech in Australia, and the crimes of blasphemy and sedition. Students will appraise and critique the policy rationales for the legal rules and principles.

1, 4.

Students will consider the treatment of free speech in social media and digital technology with reference to recent case studies.

1, 2, 4.

Students will consider the fundamental privacy principles underpinning Media Law and practice and examine the tension between the principle of open justice, the use of technology and privacy.

2, 3, 4.

Students will consider the rules that govern contempt of court, particularly sub judice contempt (communications that undermine the due administration of justice). The tension between open justice and free speech on the one hand, and the protection of the courts and litigants on the other, will be explored.

1, 2, 3, 4.

A continuation of the discussion on principles governing Contempt of Court and open justice.

1, 2, 3, 4.

Students will consider the rules that protect reputation in Australia, critique them, and consider whether they can be rationalized (and if so, to what extent) with the doctrines of freedom of speech.

1, 2, 3, 4.

A continuation of the Law of Defamation and defences.

1, 2, 3, 4.

Students will present individually chosen topics in 10- 15 minute presentations. Presentations may provide the basis/framework for written essays.

1, 2, 3, 4.

The regulation of broadcasting, digital and print media will be examined. Students will also consider the interaction between digital media and other legislation, and examine and critique the expanded ambits of media law.

2, 3, 4.

Various aspects of copyright regulation in the media will be examined and critiqued; the implications of digital advances and the internet will be considered.

2, 3, 4.
Approved on: Jan 9, 2020. Edition: 1.4
Last updated: Aug 21, 2020.