UNSW Faculty of Law

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UNSW Faculty of Law
UNSW coat of arms.png
Parent school University of New South Wales
Established 1971
School type Public
Parent endowment A$1.095 billion
Dean David Dixon
Location Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Enrollment 2,652[1]
Faculty 82 (permanent)[2]
Website www.law.unsw.edu.au

The Faculty of Law of the University of New South Wales is a law school situated in Sydney, Australia. It is widely regarded as being one of Australia's top law schools.[3] In 2013, QS World University Rankings ranked the UNSW Law Faculty 12th on its list of the best law schools in the world.[4] The Faculty has the highest entry requirements for admission to a Bachelor of Laws in Australia: in 2015 an ATAR mark of 99.7 was required for entry.[5]

The Faculty is composed of the School of Law and 13 affiliated research and specialist legal centres, including a community legal centre, the Kingsford Legal Centre. The Faculty is also co-founder and operator of the Australasian Legal Information Institute ("AustLII"), which provides free access to case law, legislation and other primary legal resources online.


The UNSW Law Building

On 13 July 1964, the University's Council approved the creation of the UNSW Faculty of Law.[6] On 24 January 1966, the Foundation Chair of Law was created, with the appointee to also be the Dean of the Faculty of Law.[6] On 8 September 1969, Wootten was appointed to this position, where, in 1971, he would oversee the first teaching classes in the faculty.[6]

The Faculty opened on 1 March 1971 with 219 undergraduate students.[7] Prior to this, only the University of Sydney offered law degrees in New South Wales. The task of establishing the new law school was given to John Halden Wootten, QC, a former Supreme Court Justice, who was appointed Foundation Dean in 1969.

In 1976, the Faculty moved to occupy five floors of the UNSW Library Tower. In 2006, the Faculty moved to a new law building on lower campus. The official opening took place on 21 September 2006 by the then Chief Justice of Australia Murray Gleeson.[8]

Currently the Faculty teaches approximately 2,675 students.[9]


In 2013, the QS World University Rankings placed UNSW Law School 12th on its list of the best law schools in the world.[10] Furthermore, the UNSW Law School was noted as one of the primary faculties in helping to place the University 1st in Australia and 33rd in the globe for most millionaires produced.[11]

In the 2011, 2012 and 2013 Good Universities Guide, UNSW was the only law school in Australia to receive top ratings across all criteria, which include: teaching quality, generic skills, overall satisfaction, and success in obtaining a job.[12]

From 2006 to 2009, the Federal Government's assessment of excellence in tertiary education found that the Faculty leads all Australian universities for the quality of learning and teaching in law.[13][14][15] The Faculty distinguishes itself from other Australian legal education bodies by its small and interactive classes,[16] an aspect of its teaching for which it has long been recognised.[17]

The Law School currently has the highest entry requirements for admission to a Bachelor of Laws in Australia: in 2015 an ATAR mark of 99.7 was required for entry.[18]


The UNSW Law Building - Interior

The Law Faculty is situated in the Law Building on the University's main campus in Kensington, Sydney.

The building is four levels high and was designed by Melbourne architects Corbet Lyons. Features of the building include light-filled atria space, open staircases, landscaped courtyards and an agora running up through floors. There are 13 classrooms with 40-plus seats, two Harvard-style lecture rooms with 90 seats and a 350-seat auditorium. Other features include a new Moot Court and student lounge. The Law Library is occupied over two levels.[19]

In addition to the main campus in Kensington, the Faculty of Law also offers classes, predominantly to those in postgraduate coursework programmes and those in later years of law degree programmes, at its CBD Campus located within Sydney's legal and financial district, on levels 6 and 7 of 1 O'Connell Street, Sydney.[20]

Curriculum and classes[edit]

UNSW Law Building - Auditorium
UNSW Law Building - Classroom
UNSW CBD Campus classroom

After an extensive curriculum review, the Faculty introduced a new curriculum in 2013.[21]

The combined law program, which involves a five-year course of study comprising a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor in another discipline, is made up of the following courses:[22]

  • Year 1: Introducing Law & Justice; Torts; and six non-law courses
  • Year 2: Principles of Private Law; Principles of Public Law; Criminal Process; Criminal Laws; and four non-law courses
  • Year 3: Contracts; Administrative Law; Equity & Trusts; Lawyers, Ethics and Justice; and four non-law courses
  • Year 4: Land Law; Resolving Civil Disputes; Business Associations; Business Associations; Court Process & Evidence; Federal Constitutional Law; Law in the Global Context; and two non-law courses
  • Year 5: eight law electives.

The Law Faculty does not use a lecture and tutorial system common in faculties in England and still used by some other Australian law schools. Rather, the Faculty has long conducted classes in a seminar-format, similar to American law schools. Students are asked to contribute to class discussion using Socratic method; basic learning is done through reading materials prior to class, and class time is devoted to examining the complexities and critical exploration of the material, though the level of Socratic questioning varies between teachers and courses. First year classes ordinarily have a maximum of 28 students. Most upper-year classes have a maximum of 44 students. Some upper-year courses have up to 90 students.[22]

The Law Faculty offers a number law subjects taught at overseas institutions through international arrangements, including courses at Columbia Law School, UC Berkeley School of Law, and Shanghai Jiao Tong University.[23] It also offers exchange programs at over 60 universities, including Sciences Po, Panthéon-Assas University, University College London, Tilburg University, McGill University, National University of Singapore, University of Hong Kong, Tsinghua University, Peking University, and others.[24]

Faculty components and centres[edit]

Kingsford Legal Centre[edit]

The Faculty hosts the Kingsford Legal Centre which is both a teaching centre offering clinical legal education and a community legal centre which provides free legal advice and referral and ongoing assistance to the residents of the local area in relation to legal problems. The Centre takes on cases where there is no other source of assistance or where acting for the client will benefit the community by achieving change in the law or government policy. The Centre advises on matters including domestic violence, debt, criminal law, employment law, legal aid, victim's compensation, motor vehicle accidents, consumer matters and accidents and injuries. It has a state-wide specialisation in discrimination law.[25][26][27]

Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII)[edit]

The Australasian Legal Information Institute is operated jointly by the Faculties of Law at the UTS and the UNSW. AustLII offers free access online to case law, legislation and other primary legal resources[28] and is "Australia's largest online legal public library."[29]

Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law[edit]

The Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law is a research centre based around a team of scholars working at the Faculty who specialise in constitutional and administrative law, Indigenous legal issues, and human rights. The Centre’s Advisory Committee is chaired by Sir Anthony Mason, former Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia.[30]

The Centre has hosted a number of projects, including: the Australian Research Council Laureate Fellowship: Anti-Terror Laws and the Democratic Challenge Project;[31] the International Refugee and Migration Law Project;[32] the Charter of Human Rights Project;[33] the Referendums project;[34] the Electoral Law Project;[35] and the Federalism Project.[36] The Centre also hosts an annual Constitutional Law Conference and Dinner attended by practitioners, academics, and judges involved or interested in public law issues.

Other research centres[edit]

There are a number of research centres attached to the Faculty of Law, including:[37]

  • Australian Human Rights Centre
  • Centre for Law, Markets & Regulation
  • Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre
  • Indigenous Law Centre
  • National Children's & Youth Law Centre
  • Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law
  • Centre for International Finance and Regulation
  • Diplomacy Training Program
  • National Pro Bono Resource Centre
  • Social Justice Project

Faculty publications[edit]

The Faculty publishes the UNSW Law Journal, one of Australia's leading academic, peer-reviewed legal journals. The journal is produced entirely by a voluntary student board, selected on academic merit and editorial skills, and assisted from time to time by faculty advisors.[38] Submissions for publication are received from local and international academics, judges, and legal professionals from a wide range of practice areas. The journal is distributed among a diverse set of subscribers, including judges, government departments, non-government organisations, law firms, and more than 250 universities worldwide. Three editions are published each year.

Other Faculty publications and journals include: Australian Indigenous Law Review; Australian Journal of Human Rights; Australasian Journal of Natural Resources Law and Policy; Human Rights Defender; and Indigenous Law Bulletin.[39]

Student organisation[edit]

The UNSW Moot Court

The UNSW Law Society is the peak-representative body for students in the Faculty of Law and is responsible for coordinating a variety of events and initiatives for law students.[40] Some of the events include: an annual Law Ball, drinks and games nights, cocktail events, an annual ski trip, first-year Law Camp, UNSW Law Revue, the valedictory dinner, and a law student talent quest ('Lawlapalooza').[41] The Law Society also runs a mentoring program, supported by the Faculty of Law, which aims to assist first year students in their transition from high school to university life.

The Society also organises a number of competitions: mooting, client interviewing, negotiation, witness examination, and paper presentation.[40] The winners of these competitions are supported to compete in intervarsity competitions.[42] Adjudicators are drawn from a pool of senior students, graduates, members of the profession (such as solicitors and barristers), and judges. Mooting finals are presided over by judges of the Supreme Court of New South Wales.[43]

The Law Society attracts a variety of sponsorship from prominent national and international organisations.[44]

Notable alumni[edit]

Notable alumni include:

Student achievement[edit]

In the past two years, three UNSW law graduates have won Rhodes scholarships.[46][47][48]

UNSW law students have achieved success in a number of international advocacy competitions, including:


  1. ^ "UNSW Law Faculty website - Facts in brief". 
  2. ^ "UNSW Law Faculty website - Facts in brief". 
  3. ^ Wikipedia: UNSW Faculty of Law - Reputation
  4. ^ "QS University Rankings by Subject 2013 – Law", Quacquarelli Symonds. Retrieved May 8, 2013.
  5. ^ "University Admissions Centre website - Cut-offs for Main Round offers: 2014–15 admissions" (PDF). 
  6. ^ a b c "Agency details report - A11-Law" (PDF). UNSW University Archives. 
  7. ^ "History of UNSW Faculty of Law". 
  8. ^ "A new home for Law". Media, News & Events. The University of New South Wales. 22 September 2006. Retrieved 3 December 2011. 
  9. ^ UNSW Faculty of Law website - Facts in brief.
  10. ^ "QS University Rankings by Subject 2013 – Law", Quacquarelli Symonds. Retrieved May 8, 2013.
  11. ^ "Who wants to be a millionaire? - UNSW Newsroom". 
  12. ^ "News and Events". law.unsw.edu.au. Retrieved 2011-05-30. 
  13. ^ 2007 Learning and Teaching Performance Fund announcement by Federal Minister for Education, 7 December 2006
  14. ^ 2008 Learning and Teaching Performance Fund announcement by Federal Minister for Education, 3 October 2007
  15. ^ 2009 Learning and Teaching Performance Fund announcement by the Federal Minister for Education, 5 February 2009.
  16. ^ "Discover UNSW law's international focus", New Sunday Times (New Straits Times Press, Malaysia), 2 October 2011, p 6 accessed 15 November 2011.
  17. ^ Pearce, Campbell and Harding, Australian Law Schools: A Discpline Assessment for the Commonwealth Tertiary Education Commission (1987) 38-39.
  18. ^ "University Admissions Centre website - Cut-offs for Main Round offers: 2014–15 admissions" (PDF). 
  19. ^ UNSW Faculty of Law website - Law Building.
  20. ^ UNSW Faculty of Law website - CBD Campus.
  21. ^ "UNSW Law website - 'The new curriculum'". 
  22. ^ a b "UNSW Law Undergraduate Guide 2014" (PDF). 
  23. ^ http://www.law.unsw.edu.au/current-students/overseas-electives
  24. ^ http://www.law.unsw.edu.au/sites/law.unsw.edu.au/files/images/law_exchange_information_sheet_llb_jul_2014_2.pdf
  25. ^ Joanna Mather, "Education Pro bono a bonus for law students", Australian Financial Review, 6 June 2011, p 28 via Media Monitors Australia Pty Ltd and factiva.com accessed 14 November 2011.
  26. ^ "Kingsford Legal Centre". Access to Justice. Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved 14 November 2011. 
  27. ^ Bernard Lane, "UNSW shows the law is an asset", The Australian (All-round Country edition), 12 November 2008, p 23, via factiva.com accessed 14 November 2011.
  28. ^ Michaela Whitbourn, "Legal eagle's app a firm favourite", Australian Financial Review, 23 June 2011, p 4 via Media Monitors Australia Pty Ltd and factiva.com accessed 15 November 2011.
  29. ^ The Australian High Commission-India (Chanakyapuri, India), "Australian Support Takes Indian Law to the People" (news release), 10 March 2011, Targeted News Service via factiva.com accessed 15 November 2011.
  30. ^ http://www.gtcentre.unsw.edu.au/people
  31. ^ "Fergal Davis". The Guardian (London, England). 2011. Retrieved 16 November 2011. 
  32. ^ Timothy McDonald, "Refugee law experts say High Court decision will have significant impact", Australian Broadcasting Corporation Transcripts, 31 August 2011, via factiva.com accessed 15 November 2011.
  33. ^ Edward Santow, "Presumption of innocence protected", The Age (Melbourne), 20 March 2010, p 7, Australia/New Zealand Reference Centre, EBSCOhost accessed 14 November 2011.
  34. ^ Paul Kildea, "Referendum education must start without delay" (opinion), Australian Financial Review, 12 November 2010, p 40.
  35. ^ Jenna Price, "Court move to strike candidate off ballot just 'dirty tricks'", The Canberra Times, 15 November 2007, p 15.
  36. ^ Amanda Meade, "Net role urged for poll messages", The Australian, 26 October 2009, p 28.
  37. ^ UNSW Faculty of Law website - Faculty Centres.
  38. ^ unswlawjournal.unsw.edu.au
  39. ^ UNSW Faculty of Law website - Faculty publications.
  40. ^ a b http://www.unswlawsoc.org/?q=welp
  41. ^ UNSW Law Society website.
  42. ^ http://www.unswlawsoc.org/competitions
  43. ^ http://www.unswlawsoc.org/competitions/mooting
  44. ^ unswlawsoc.org
  45. ^ http://www.familycourt.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/FCOA/home/about/Media/Media_Releases/Appointments_to_FCoA_and_FMC
  46. ^ http://www.law.unsw.edu.au/news/2014/10/rhodes-scholarship-goes-unsw-law-alumnus-second-year-running
  47. ^ http://www.law.unsw.edu.au/news/2013/11/kunal-sharma-named-rhodes-scholar
  48. ^ http://www.rhodeshouse.ox.ac.uk/rhodes-scholars-elect-class-of-2015/emily-burke
  49. ^ "Jean-Pictet Competition: Honours". 
  50. ^ "For argument's sake". UNSW Newsroom. 22 April 2008. 
  51. ^ "Success a moot point". UNSW Newsroom. 5 February 2008. 
  52. ^ "Philip C. Jessup International Moot Court Competition - 2013 Advanced Rounds results" (PDF). 
  53. ^ Offner, Steve (20 October 2008). "World champion mooters". UNSW Newsroom. 
  54. ^ "UNSW students placed 2nd in the ICC International Mediation Competition in Paris". UNSW Faculty of Law. 18 February 2010. 
  55. ^ http://www.law.unsw.edu.au/news/2010/04/mooters-excel-internationally

External links[edit]