Stage 1 | Subject outline | version control

Legal Studies Stage 1
Subject outline

Version 4.0 - For teaching in 2024.
Accredited in June 2020 for teaching at Stage 1 from 2021. 

Stage 1 | Subject outline | Focus areas | Focus area 1

Focus area 1: Law and communities 

Through inquiry, students build their understanding of how Australia’s laws have developed from rules, customs, creeds, codes, customary law (such as Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander customary law), and common law. They study the power, influence, and perspectives of those who have constructed Australia’s laws and, though analysis and judgment, develop informed opinions and arguments. By exploring the past, students gain an understanding of the evolution and need for laws in Australian society and consider their role in influencing and constructing laws.

In providing a response to the big questions, students make one or more connections to the concepts of rights, fairness and justice, power, and change.

Students could consider big questions such as the following:

  • Why do we need laws?
  • What is the purpose of law?
  • Are all laws good?
  • What are the influences on Australia’s laws and does this lead to just outcomes?
  • Is law-making controlled by particular groups in society?
  • To what extent does the law meet the needs of Australian communities?
  • To what extent do Australian laws need to change?
  • How effectively are the rights of individuals and groups in different communities upheld?
  • Should your rights and responsibilities change under law as you reach adulthood?
  • What justification is there for changing your rights and responsibilities as you age?

Possible inquiry questions:

  • What is the rule of law?
  • How does the Australian legal system reflect its English heritage?
  • How does the Australian Constitution reflect the views of its writers?
  • What influence have religious codes and creeds had on our legal system?
  • How has the concept of justice in Australia changed over time?
  • How do the perspectives of individuals and groups shape our law?
  • Are there missing perspectives in our law-making processes or structures?
  • What are some examples of customary law in Australia today?
  • What factors may lead to changes in law?
  • What forms of legal assistance/structures are available to assist you in everyday life?

Students may consider the following elements of Focus area 1: Law and communities as a basis for their inquiry.

  • rule of law
  • democracy
  • representative government
  • separation of powers
  • impact of the media on our perception of the government, law, and justice
  • changes in societal values and the impact of these changes on our laws.