Learning
Legal Studies

 

Why Study Legal Studies?

In contemporary Australian society there is a range of complex laws that exist to protect the rights of individuals and to achieve social cohesion. These laws are made by bodies such as parliament and the courts and are upheld by a number of institutions and processes within the legal system. Members of society interact with the laws and the legal system in many aspects of their lives and can influence law makers.

The study of VCE Legal Studies enables students to become active and informed citizens by providing them with valuable insights into their relationship with the law and the legal system. They develop knowledge and skills that enhance their confidence and ability to access and participate in the legal system. Students come to appreciate how legal systems and processes aim to achieve social cohesion, and how they themselves can create positive changes to laws and the legal system. VCE Legal Studies equips students with the ability to research and analyse legal information and apply legal reasoning and decision-making skills, and fosters critical thinking to solve legal problems. Further study in the legal field can lead to a broad range of career opportunities such as lawyer, paralegal, legal secretary and careers in the courtroom.

Structure

The study is made up of four units:

Unit 1: Guilt and liability

Unit 2: Sanctions, remedies and rights

Unit 3: Rights and justice

Unit 4: The people and the law

Each unit deals with specific content and is designed to enable students to achieve a set of outcomes. Each outcome is described in terms of key knowledge and skills.

Outcomes
Outcomes define what students will know and be able to do as a result of undertaking the study.

 

Unit 1: Guilt and liability

Criminal law and civil law aim to achieve social cohesion and protect the rights of individuals. Criminal law is aimed at maintaining social order and infringing criminal law can result in charges. Civil law deals with the infringement of a person’s or group’s rights and breaching civil law can result in litigation.

In this unit students develop an understanding of legal foundations, such as the different types and sources of law and the existence of a court hierarchy in Victoria. Students investigate key concepts of criminal law and civil law and apply these to actual and/or hypothetical scenarios to determine whether an accused may be found guilty of a crime, or liable in a civil dispute. In doing so, students develop an appreciation of the way in which legal principles and information are used in making reasoned judgments and conclusions about the culpability of an accused, and the liability of a party in a civil dispute.

Area of Study 1
Legal foundations

Outcome 1
On completion of this unit the student should be able to describe the main sources and types of law, and assess the effectiveness of laws.

Area of Study 2
The presumption of innocence
The presumption of innocence is the fundamental principle of criminal law and

Outcome 2
On completion of this unit the student should be able to explain the purposes and key concepts of criminal law, and use legal reasoning to argue the criminal culpability of an accused based on actual and/or hypothetical scenarios.

Area of Study 3
Civil liability

Outcome 3
On completion of this unit the student should be able to explain the purposes and key concepts of civil law, and apply legal reasoning to argue the liability of a party in civil law based on actual and/or hypothetical scenarios.

 

Unit 2: Sanctions, remedies and rights

Criminal law and civil law aim to protect the rights of individuals. When rights are infringed, a case or dispute may arise which needs to be determined or resolved, and sanctions or remedies may be imposed. This unit focuses on the enforcement of criminal law and civil law, the methods and institutions that may be used to determine a criminal case or resolve a civil dispute, and the purposes and types of sanctions and remedies and their effectiveness.

Students undertake a detailed investigation of two criminal cases and two civil cases from the past four years to form a judgment about the ability of sanctions and remedies to achieve the principles of justice. Students develop their understanding of the way rights are protected in Australia and in another country, and possible reforms to the protection of rights. They examine a significant case in relation to the protection of rights in Australia.

Area of Study 1
Sanctions

Outcome 1
On completion of this unit the student should be able to explain key concepts in the determination of a criminal case, and discuss the principles of justice in relation to the determination of criminal cases, sanctions and sentencing approaches.

Area of Study 2
Remedies

Outcome 2
On completion of this unit the student should be able to explain key concepts in the resolution of a civil dispute, and discuss the principles of justice in relation to the resolution of civil disputes and remedies.

Area of Study 3
Rights

Outcome 3
On completion of this unit the student should be able to evaluate the ways in which rights are protected in Australia, compare this approach with that adopted by another country and discuss the impact of an Australian case on the rights of individuals and the legal system.

 

Unit 3: Rights and justice

The Victorian justice system, which includes the criminal and civil justice systems, aims to protect the rights of individuals and uphold the principles of justice: fairness, equality and access. In this unit students examine the methods and institutions in the justice system and consider their appropriateness in determining criminal cases and resolving civil disputes. Students consider the Magistrates’ Court, County Court and Supreme Court within the Victorian court hierarchy, as well as other Victorian legal institutions and bodies available to assist with cases.

Students explore matters such as the rights available to an accused and to victims in the criminal justice system, the roles of the judge, jury, legal practitioners and the parties, and the ability of sanctions and remedies to achieve their purposes. Students investigate the extent to which the principles of justice are upheld in the justice system. They discuss recent reforms from the past four years and recommended reforms to enhance the ability of the justice system to achieve the principles of justice. Throughout this unit, students apply legal reasoning and information to actual and/or hypothetical scenarios.

Area of Study 1
The Victorian criminal justice system

Outcome 1
On completion of this unit the student should be able to explain the rights of the accused and of victims in the criminal justice system, discuss the means used to determine criminal cases and evaluate the ability of the criminal justice system to achieve the principles of justice.

Area of Study 2
The Victorian civil justice system

Outcome 2
On completion of this unit the student should be able to analyse the factors to consider when initiating a civil claim, discuss the institutions and methods used to resolve civil disputes and evaluate the ability of the civil justice system to achieve the principles of justice.

 

Unit 4: The people and the law

The study of Australia’s laws and legal system involves an understanding of institutions that make and reform our laws, and the relationship between the Australian people, the Australian Constitution and law-making bodies. In this unit, students explore how the Australian Constitution establishes the law-making powers of the Commonwealth and state parliaments, and protects the Australian people through structures that act as a check on parliament in law-making. Students develop an understanding of the significance of the High Court in protecting and interpreting the Australian Constitution. They investigate parliament and the courts, and the relationship between the two in law-making, and consider the roles of the individual, the media and law reform bodies in influencing law reform.

Throughout this unit, students apply legal reasoning and information to actual scenarios.

Area of Study 1
The people and the Australian Constitution

Outcome 1
On completion of this unit the student should be able to discuss the significance of High Court cases involving the interpretation of the Australian Constitution and evaluate the ways in which the Australian Constitution acts as a check on parliament in law-making.

Area of Study 2
The people, the parliament and the courts

Outcome 2
On completion of this unit the student should be able to discuss the factors that affect the ability of parliament and courts to make law, evaluate the ability of these law-makers to respond to the need for law reform, and analyse how individuals, the media and law reform bodies can influence a change in the law.

 

Assessment

Satisfactory Completion
Demonstrated achievement of the set of outcomes specified for the unit.

Levels of Achievement

Units 1 and 2

Emmaus College students complete graded Assessment Tasks and Semester Examinations as part of the Assessment process for Units 1 and 2.

Units 3 and 4

The Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority will supervise the assessment of all students undertaking Units 3 and 4.

Percentage contributions to the study score in VCE Legal Studies are as follows:

Unit 3 School-assessed Coursework 25%
Unit 4 School-assessed Coursework 25%
End-of-year examination 50%