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LAWS77-572: Philosophical Foundations of Law January 2018 [Standard]

General information

Philosophical Foundations of Law is an elective subject in postgraduate programs offered by the Faculty of Law. This subject will explore some central themes and traditions in the philosophy of law (also known as legal theory or jurisprudence). Students will gain an understanding of the historical development of philosophy of law from classical times to the present, focusing on recurring themes such as the relationship of law and morality, the limits of legal authority and the nature of legal and social norms. We will begin by introducing the central questions and methodologies of philosophy of law and exploring some overarching questions about the objectivity of values. This will then lead us to the different understandings of law associated with the natural law and legal positivist traditions. We will then explore the relationship of liberalism and law, before introducing feminist and postmodern critiques of the liberal worldview. The subject will conclude by discussing some contemporary disputes on the concept of rights, the nature and limits of judicial reasoning and conceptions of justice. Students will be equipped with the knowledge and analytical tools to engage critically with current debates in each of these areas.

Changes due to Commonwealth Games: The University has marginally altered the timetable for the January semester of 2018 (181) to ensure that students have the opportunity to engage with the Commonwealth Games to be held in April 2018. The modified timetable has been designed to not impact on overall subject or program learning outcomes. Some subjects may be delivered in a slightly modified mode to accommodate the change. Specific arrangements will be included on the iLearn site for each subject. All changes to the class schedule have the full approval of University and Academic Unit administration and will not adversely affect student learning or assessment.


Academic unit:Faculty of Law
Subject code:LAWS77-572
Subject title:Philosophical Foundations of Law
Subject level:Postgraduate
Semester/Year:January 2018
Credit points:10

Delivery & attendance

Delivery mode:


Workload items:
  • Seminar: x12 (Total hours: 24) - Seminar
  • Personal Study Hours: x12 (Total hours: 96) - Recommended Study Hours


Prescribed resources:
  • Jonathan Crowe (2014). Legal Theory. 2nd ed, Thomson Reuters
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: ?


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. Demonstrate knowledge of: a) central themes and traditions in the philosophy of law; b) the development of philosophy of law from classical times to the present; and c) the relevance of philosophy of law to legal advocacy and practice.
  2. Demonstrate the reasoning, research and communication skills to: a) engage critically with historical and current debates in philosophy of law; b) understand, analyse and critique philosophical arguments relevant to law; and c) understand, analyse and critique appeals to legal and ethical theories in legal advocacy and practice.
  3. Demonstrate the ability to apply the above knowledge and skills: a) with creativity and initiative to new situations; b) with high level personal autonomy and accountability; and c) with an awareness of ethical responsibilities and context.
  4. Demonstrate: a) knowledge of principles and methods of legal research and critical reasoning; b) the reasoning and communication skills to engage in effective legal research and writing on theoretical topics; and c) the ability to plan and execute a substantial research based project.


Assessment details

TypeTask%Timing*Outcomes assessed
*Class Participation Seminar participation 10% Ongoing 1, 2, 3, 4.
Essay Short responses to set readings 30% Progressive 1, 2, 3, 4.
Essay Research essay 60% Week 11 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.

Subject curriculum

This seminar will introduce some central questions and methodologies of philosophy of law. We will discuss its significance for legal advocacy and practice.

1, 2, 3, 4.

We will critically engage with philosophical debates on the existence of objective values and explore their relevance to legal scholarship and institutions.

1, 2, 3, 4.

This seminar will introduce the classical natural law tradition, focusing on Aristotle, Augustine and Aquinas. We will explore its relevance to legal thought today.

1, 2, 3, 4.

This seminar will introduce legal positivism, focusing on its attempts to analyse law as a set of social norms. We will focus on John Austin and Hans Kelsen.

1, 2, 3, 4.

We will continue to explore the legal positivist tradition and its contemporary status, discussing the influential work of HLA Hart and Joseph Raz.

1, 2, 3, 4.

This seminar will consider the contemporary revival of natural law thinking. We will examine the work of Lon L Fuller, John Finnis and Mark Murphy.

1, 2, 3, 4.

We will consider the idea of liberalism and its role in legal and political discourse, focusing particularly on the ideas of Adam Smith and FA Hayek.

1, 2, 3, 4.

This seminar will engage with feminist critiques of mainstream legal discourse. We will discuss historical and current feminist legal and social issues.

1, 2, 3, 4.

We will explore postmodern critiques of traditional legal theories, engaging with the provocative work of Jean-Francois Lyotard and Emmanuel Levinas.

1, 2, 3, 4.

This seminar will analyse the notion of a right and its role in legal arguments. We will unpack the influential framework advanced by WN Hohfeld.

1, 2, 3, 4.

We will consider contemporary debates about the role of judges in applying and interpreting the law, engaging with Lon L Fuller and Ronald Dworkin.

1, 2, 3, 4.
Approved on: Jan 9, 2018. Edition: 1.2