Credit points: 15

Subject outline

In this subject students will investigate the ethical and legal questions that confront journalists on an everyday basis, and the new dilemmas forged by rapidly evolving media technologies. To what extent have the ground rules changed with the explosion of new kinds of media content and platforms? Students explore how privacy, professional liability, conflict of interest, copyright and fair dealing, defamation, and confidentiality are dealt with by the law, through journalist codes of practice, and by media institutions. They will also examine the court system, contempt of court and sentencing. In this subject we will draw on the expertise of a range of experts and media professionals. This subject addresses La Trobe's Global Citizenship Essential. The focus Global Citizenship is on how we live in an interconnected world. People need to be able to recognise the global context of concepts, act across cultures and boundaries, and work with diverse communities - now and in the future.

SchoolHumanities and Social Sciences

Credit points15

Subject Co-ordinatorBrigid McCarthy

Available to Study Abroad/Exchange StudentsYes

Subject year levelYear Level 2 - UG

Available as ElectiveNo

Learning ActivitiesAll assessable work, lectures and tutorials,and guest lectures from industry and other relevant professionals.

Capstone subjectNo

Subject particulars

Subject rules

Prerequisites Students must complete 30 credit points of 1st year Journalism, Strategic Communications or Media subjects or coordinator's approval


Incompatible subjectsN/A

Equivalent subjectsN/A

Quota Management StrategyN/A

Quota-conditions or rulesN/A

Special conditionsCore subject for the Bachelor of Media and Communication (ABMC), Bachelor of Journalism (ABJ) and Bachelor of Journalism Sport (ABJS).

Minimum credit point requirementN/A

Assumed knowledgeN/A

Career Ready


Work-based learningNo

Self sourced or Uni sourcedN/A

Entire subject or partial subjectN/A

Total hours/days requiredN/A

Location of WBL activity (region)N/A

WBL addtional requirementsN/A

Graduate capabilities & intended learning outcomes

Graduate Capabilities

Intended Learning Outcomes

01. Demonstrate an understanding of the legal framework that journalists and content providers are required to know in Australia in order to function as media professionals and self-publishers.
02. Demonstrate an understanding of relevant codes of practice and codes of ethics that journalists and media professionals are required to know to practice in Australia.
03. Develop the capacity to evaluate and synthesise arguments about competing dilemmas involving ethical and legal issues in journalism and media practice.
04. Demonstrate an understanding of Australian copyright law and how to apply it effectively in journalism and media practice.

Subject options

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Start date between: and    Key dates

Melbourne (Bundoora), 2021, Semester 2, Blended


Online enrolmentYes

Maximum enrolment sizeN/A

Subject Instance Co-ordinatorBrigid McCarthy

Class requirements

Computer LaboratoryWeek: 31 - 43
One 1.00 hour computer laboratory per week on weekdays during the day from week 31 to week 43 and delivered via blended.

LectureWeek: 31 - 43
One 1.00 hour lecture per week on weekdays during the day from week 31 to week 43 and delivered via blended.

Unscheduled Online ClassWeek: 31 - 43
One 1.00 hour unscheduled online class per week on weekdays during the day from week 31 to week 43 and delivered via online.


Assessment elementCommentsCategoryContributionHurdle% ILO*

Online quizzes (2000 word equivalent) Quizzes undertaken on the LMS throughout the semester.

N/AQuizzesIndividualNo40 SILO1, SILO2, SILO3, SILO4

Essay or court story plus reflection (1500 word equivalent) Student choose one option and complete along with reflection.

N/AAssignmentIndividualNo30 SILO1, SILO2, SILO3, SILO4

One explainer piece plus reflection (1750 word equivalent) Explainer article relating to legal and ethical issues in media and journalism.

N/AOtherIndividualNo30 SILO1, SILO2, SILO3, SILO4