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 | Optional focus area | Example 3: Justice and Society

Example 3: Justice and Society

Students explore the operation of the adversary system of trial in the resolution of criminal and civil disputes.
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 may consider the following elements of Optional focus area: Justice and society as a basis for their inquiry.

  • how the adversary system aims to achieve justice
  • the rights of the accused
  • common law rights
  • statutory rights
  • international human rights obligations
  • human rights
  • natural justice
  • features of the adversary system
  • access to justice.

Big questions:

  • What is justice?
  • What features of the adversary system of trial provide for a just outcome?
  • How and why do perceptions of justice vary globally?
  • Why are criminal disputes and civil disputes resolved differently? Is this effective?
  • Are the rights of all Australians adequately protected by the legal system?
  • Do some groups require special attention to ensure that their rights are protected and does this require targeted policies?
  • Should the Australian Constitution include a Bill of Rights?
  • Can you have rights without responsibilities?
  • Should rights be irrespective of age/gender/social group/ethnicity?

Through developing their response to big questions, students should understand and evaluate the Australian legal system’s approach to justice and society, explore current legislation and relevant cases, and make recommendations for change as appropriate.

Current/relevant structures include:

  • the adversary system of trial
  • the criminal justice system
  • the civil justice system
  • the jury system.

Possible inquiry questions are:

  • What are the main features of the Australian adversary system?
  • How are criminal and civil trials different (for example: features, processes, outcomes)?
  • How is a criminal dispute resolved?
  • How is a civil dispute resolved?
  • What are the rules of evidence?
  • What is the role of a judge?
  • How does a judge determine sentence?
  • What is alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and how does it relate to the civil justice system?
  • Why do we have a court hierarchy and how does this facilitate just outcomes?
  • How is a jury selected and what role does it play in a trial?