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Course - Legal Studies

The Preliminary course develops students’ knowledge and understanding of the nature and function of law, through the examination of the law-making processes and institutions, and the way in which the law impacts on individuals. The course also provides the opportunity to investigate contemporary issues that illustrate how the law operates.

The HSC course investigates criminal and human rights law using a range of contemporary examples to develop an understanding of the processes and institutions associated with these laws, and to assess them in their practice. Students also study two options investigating contemporary issues, the relevant laws and rights of people, and the effectiveness of the laws in achieving justice.

Throughout the course, students develop inquiry and analytical skills using a range of legal and media sources.

Download the PDF (below) to get the full course description.


Is Legal Studies for me?

Are you interested in the Australian legal system and how the law influences the most vulnerable groups in society? Are you keen on lots of classroom discussions about legal issues? If so, then Legal Studies sounds like a very suitable subject for you! I personally found HSC Legal Studies to be an immensely rewarding subject, where I got to learn more about the most pressing issues facing our country. However, Legal Studies is definitely not everybody’s cup of tea. Like any HSC subject, it involves hard work. But hard work in the form of copious amounts of readings per week, a lot of writing (the most out of all HSC subjects) and intense memorisation. If you can’t take on stacks of readings and analytical writing, Legal Studies might not be for you. 

Still unsure? There is no harm in picking Legal Studies – you can always choose to drop it if it is not for you. But who knows? It might even turn out to be your best subject!

Do I need to watch the news everyday?

Although it is not required of you to watch the news everyday, I would certainly advise that you are at least reading news articles in order to keep up with issues relevant to your topic/s. Too often, students use out of date legislation from 5 years ago, when there has already been several updates. For example, you need to be aware of legislation surrounding bail laws in NSW. They have been amended over 80 times! I can assure you that the examiner will not be too pleased if you used the Bail Act 1978 (NSW) without mentioning the newer Bail Amendment Act 2014 (NSW)!

The same thing applies for cases. Try to flick through a few news websites once a day to check for any updates on possible cases you can use. The AustLII website is one of the most useful resources when I was studying HSC Legal Studies. A few of my favourite news companies that are always bookmarked include:

Notes from the HSC marking centre often suggest that the stronger responses integrate recent cases and documents throughout the response. So in saying that, make sure your evidence is all cutting edge. You might find that a lot of news articles can overlap and say the same thing. But it is still a great idea to read over all of them, as they are all written by different people with different experiences and life circumstances. This will enable you to gain a more well-rounded nuanced perspective on the issue, which will help in developing a sophisticated argument!

If you have further questions, please contact:
HSIE Coordinator - Mr Anthony Pollard