Year 12
Year 12
Classroom with Whiteboard

Legal Studies units 3 & 4

VCE Legal Studies investigates the ways in which the law and the legal system relate to and serve individuals and the community. This knowledge is central to understanding the workings of contemporary Australian society.

Legal Studies examines the processes of law-making, dispute resolution and the administration of justice in Australia. Students develop an understanding of the impact of the legal system on the lives of citizens, and the implications of legal decisions and outcomes on Australian society. The study provides students with an appreciation of how individuals can be involved in decision-making within the legal system, encouraging civic engagement and helping them to become more informed and active citizens.

Students develop an understanding of the complexity of the law and the legal system and the challenges faced by our law-makers and dispute resolution bodies. They investigate the workings of the Australian legal system and undertake comparisons with international structures and procedures. Students are encouraged to question these systems and develop informed judgments about their effectiveness, as well as consider reforms to the law and the legal system.

Legal Studies also focuses on the development of skills. Students develop an ability to identify, collect and process information from a range of sources and engage in its interpretation and analysis. Skills for independent inquiry, critical thinking and legal reasoning to solve legal problems are also fostered. Students are required to apply legal reasoning and decision-making to contemporary cases and issues. They engage in analysis and evaluation of existing legal processes and form opinions about the operation of the legal system.

Unit 3: Law-making

In this unit students develop an understanding of the institutions that determine our laws, and their law-making powers and processes. They undertake an informed evaluation of the effectiveness of law-making bodies and examine the need for the law to keep up to date with changes in society.

Students develop an appreciation of the complex nature of law-making by investigating the key features and operation of parliament, and influences on law-making, with a focus on the role of the individual.

Central to the investigation of law-making is the role played by the Commonwealth Constitution. Students develop an understanding of the importance of the Constitution in their lives and on society as a whole, and undertake a comparative analysis with another country. They learn of the importance of the role played by the High Court of Australia in interpreting and enforcing the Constitution, and ensuring that parliaments do not act outside their areas of power nor infringe protected rights.

Students investigate the nature and importance of courts as law-makers and undertake an evaluation of their effectiveness as law-making bodies. They also investigate the relationships that exist between parliaments and courts.

Throughout this unit, students examine relevant cases to support their learning and apply legal principles to these cases.

Unit 4: Resolution and justice

The legal system provides mechanisms by which legal disputes of both a criminal and a civil nature can be resolved in a fair and just manner. Dispute resolution bodies such as courts and tribunals employ a range of means and processes that enables the resolution of legal disputes.

Students examine the institutions that adjudicate criminal cases and civil disputes. They also investigate methods of dispute resolution that can be used as an alternative to civil litigation. Students investigate the processes and procedures followed in courtrooms and develop an understanding of the adversary system of trial and the jury system, as well as pre-trial and post-trial procedures that operate in the Victorian legal system. Using the elements of an effective legal system, students consider the extent to which court processes and procedures contribute to the effective operation of the legal system. They also consider reforms or changes that could further improve its effective operation.

Throughout this unit, students examine current or recent cases to support their learning, and apply legal principles to these illustrative cases.


Units 3 and 4

The Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority will supervise the assessment of all students undertaking Units 3 and 4. In the study of VCE Legal Studies students’ level of achievement will be determined by School-assessed Coursework and an end-of-year examination.

Percentage contributions to the study score in VCE Legal Studies are as follows:

  • Unit 3 School-assessed Coursework: 25 per cent
  • Unit 4 School-assessed Coursework: 25 per cent
  • End-of-year examination: 50 per cent.