Studying online

There are now 2 possible online modes for units:

Units with modes Online timetabled and Online flexible are available for any student to self-enrol and study online.

Click on an offering mode for more details.

Unit Overview


This unit deals with key issues in media law:. It begins by exploring the right to freedom of expression and the values which shape our media law environment. Key legal issues in this unit include defamation law, privacy, and open justice, as well as the regulation of digital media (social media and online communication). The focusThis unit provides students with a foundational understanding of the laws covering traditional media, including press and broadcasting regulation. In addition, this unit explores the regulation of new digital media, including social media and other forms of digital communications. This unit will be on primary sources of law: the case law and legislation whichexamine media law practitioners citeregulation with a focus on Australia, adopting a comparative legal perspective where necessary to evaluate Australian regulatory initiatives alongside those developed in court every dayEurope and beyond. The issues coveredIn addition to existing regulatory initiatives, the unit will be relevant to traditional news media organisations (eg the ABC) and the journalists they employ; the internet intermediaries (eg Google) which have disrupted traditional media; and your average punters who share defamatory or invasive content on social media. The focus will be on Australian law, but there will be some comparative consideration of the media laws of other jurisdictions. The content will be predominantly doctrinal and designed to prepare students for careersconsider emerging regulatory challenges in media law practice in Australia. Students will consider, for example, practical aspects of pleading defamatory imputations in the Supreme Court of Western Australia, and the "legalling" undertaken by news organisations identifying defamation risks pre-publication.

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face

Students are able to (1) apply principles of defamation, privacy and open justice to solve legal problems; (2) analyse recent developments in media law including issues concerning the balance between freedom of expression, personality rights and other values effected by Australian private law; (3) evaluate different means of vindicating damage to reputation and violations of privacy in Australian law; (4) create legal arguments to advance the interests of hypothetical clients involved in media law disputes; and (5) create pleadings and other court documents necessary to advance the interests of hypothetical clients involved in media law disputes.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) class participation; (2) assignment; and (3) exam. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Phoebe Galbally
Unit rules
Enrolment in 20820 Juris Doctor
and LAWS4101 Foundations of Law and Lawyering
, LAWS4102 Criminal Law
, LAWS4103 Contract
, LAWS4104 Property
, LAWS4106 Torts
, LAWS4107 Land Law
, LAWS4108 Foundations of Public Law
, LAWS5103 Equity and Trusts
, LAWS5101 Constitutional Law
, LAWS5105 Remedies and
LAWS4109 Legal Theory and Ethics
or LAWS4110 Interpretation
) ) For all other students: no prerequisites
Advisable prior study
LAWS5115 Procedure
Approved quota: 60—first come first servce

An online reading guide identifies key sources for each topic. It is expected that you will apply your legal research skills and find the cases through Westlaw, LexisNexis, AustLII, Jade, etc. There is no need to print: you may bring your laptop to class.

The Rolph et al casebook extracts many of those cases. It will be set as essential reading and placed on closed reserve in the Law Library. If you wish to do so, you may purchase a copy in the usual places.



David Rolph, Matt Vitins, Judith Bannister, and Daniel Joyce, Media Law – Cases, Materials and Commentary (Oxford University Press, 3rd ed, 2022) (Rolph et al).


Sources and

Des Butler and Sharon Rodrick, Australian Media Law (Lawbook, 5th ed, 2015) (Butler and Rodrick).

Eric Barendt, Lesley Hitchens, Rachael Craufurd-Smith and Jason Bosland, Media Law: Text, Cases and Materials (Pearson, 2013).

Doreen Weisenhaus and Simon N M Young (eds), Media Law and Policy in the Internet Age (Hart, 2017).

David Rolph, Defamation Law (Lawbook, 2015).

Matthew Collins, The Law of Defamation and the Internet (Oxford University Press, 3rd ed, 2010).

Australian Law Reform Commission, Serious Invasions of Privacy in the Digital Era, Final Report No 123 (2014) (ALRC).

Tanya Alpin et al, Gurry on Breach of Confidence – The Protection of Confidential Information (Oxford, 2nd ed, 2012).

J D Heydon, M J Leeming and P G Turner, Meagher, Gummow & Lehane’s Equity – Doctrines & Remedies (LexisNexis Butterworths, 5th ed, 2015).

‘The Red Book’: Civil Procedure WA (available through LexisNexis).

Halsbury’s Laws of Australia (available through LexisNexis).

R Finkelstein, Report of the Independent Inquiry into the Media and Media Regulation (Report to the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, 28 February 2012).

  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.