Lecturer: Colin Picker
What is the course about?

The course provides a general overview of the American legal system by exploring how the particular historical, political and social contexts in America have shaped its development. Students will learn about the mechanisms that uphold the law in America such as the role of the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary which will be viewed in comparison to the legal system in Australia.

Why does the subject interest you?

This course is interesting given the striking similarities in the structure of the legal system between America and Australia yet highlights any distinguishing features and explores the rationale when such a departure takes place. Nonetheless, given the intertwined history and relatively similar socio-cultural contexts, the implications of any developments regarding the law in America has a profound impact on the future of law reform in Australia.

Any advice to give students who are interested in taking this course?

This course begins with class at 9am and roughly lasts until about 12:30pm each day. Students are generally free to travel in their free time though there are a few field trips and tours that will take place in the afternoon. The classes will be taught predominantly by lecturers from UNSW with the occasional guest lecturer from the law faculty at UC Berkeley.

How will this course be relevant in the future?

A comparative approach to international law provokes an analysis on whether particular changes towards the legal system may be transplanted domestically. This is particularly the case for countries such as the United States where the Judeo-Christian values have influenced the modern legal system and other similarities such as the Separation of Powers found in the respective Constitutions. Any changes that occur in America is likely to be heavily considered in its application in Australia and it is these comparative legal analysis skills that allow for a greater appreciation of the impact of law reform overseas.

Written by Brendon Zhu

What is the course about?
This course introduces the fundamental concepts of the American legal system, covering the history of American republican-constitutionalism, the Bill of Rights, political and legal system structures such as Congress and the Supreme Court, and explores emerging debates and concerns within the American legal culture, such as gun and abortion rights.

Why does the subject interest you?
The American legal system has profoundly influenced Australia’s and many others around the world, and is an active and varied jurisdiction that pushes the boundaries of current legal thought. I believed it was important to understand American’s legal system, to better understand Australia’s.

Any advice to give students who are interested in taking this course?
If you choose to travel before hand, make sure you leave yourself plenty of time after the course to get the essay done. But generally, make sure you have fun.

How will this course be relevant in the future?
Anyone who intends to have dealings with American institutions may find it beneficial to understand, even on surface level, how America’s legal system functions.

Additional questions (if you consider this necessary)
Why did you choose this elective?
I wanted to travel in the Christmas holidays and the opportunity to finish off a unit of credit simultaneously was too good to go past.

1x 4000 word essay due about a month or two after the course finishes. Worth 70%.
1x 500 word essay detailing your essay plan. Worth 10%.
Class participation. Worth 20%.

Course pre-requisites
78 UOC from LAWS courses

Written by Alex Field