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Electives on Southeast Asia at UNSW Law

Next year I will be offering two new electives at UNSW Law Faculty. The idea for electives came out of a survey I conducted of law students in the faculty, via the Law Student Society. Out of 52 respondents, 95% said they agreed that there should be more subjects on Asian law offered in the curriculum. I believe that there is a real need for our students to have the opportunity to study about legal systems in Southeast Asia, our regional neighbours. These courses will fit within and expand on the Law School’s existing engagement in the Asia Pacific region. They will equip students to understand core debates on the rule of law and law reform in Southeast Asia, and enable students to develop an informed appreciation for the legal systems and traditions in Southeast Asia.

Islamic Law and Society
This course will provide students with an introduction to Islamic law and society in Southeast Asia. The region of Southeast Asia provides a fascinating and complex site to consider many of the broader issues and debates facing the Muslim world. Countries that will be covered include Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Singapore and Myanmar. The aim of the course is to explore contemporary issues and debates on Islamic law in its social, political and cultural context. Key themes of the course include Islam and Constitutionalism; the role of religious authorities; Muslim legal professionals; women and Islam; Muslims and conflict; state regulation of religion; and Islamic courts. This is a research-intensive subject. This course would appeal to students who are interested in deepening their understanding of Islamic law and exploring debates concerning secularism; the significance of religion to legal traditions in Asia, and the interaction between Islam and democracy in the region. The course will equip students going into legal practice or into other sectors with a broad knowledge of Islamic legal traditions in the region, its relevance to contemporary global debates on Islam, and a deep appreciation for the importance and complexity of plural legal systems. The course may include guest speakers. Students are encouraged to take Law in the Global Context prior to or simultaneously with this course. This subject is open to both undergraduate and JD students.

Assessment
Research assignment 70%
Research proposal 10%
Class participation 10%

Learning outcomes:
  • ·    Display a clear knowledge of the principles of Islamic law principles of Islamic law and the extent to which this has influenced state regulation and legal institutions in Southeast Asia
  • ·    Evidence an advanced understanding of the substance of Islamic law, an awareness of the different policy approaches to state regulation of religion, and the consequences for religion/state relations and democracy
  • ·    Navigate and apply constitutional provisions and statutes on Islamic law in Southeast Asia
  • ·    Engage in advanced critical analysis of the role and function of Islamic courts and Muslim legal professionals in Southeast Asia
  • ·    Demonstrate effective oral communication skills by discussing and debating course concepts in a scholarly, reflective and respectful manner
  • ·    Demonstrate the timely composition of effective and sophisticated written communication for a specialist audience




The Rule of Law in Southeast Asia
This course will provide students with an introduction to legal systems and traditions of Southeast Asia through a focus on the development and promotion of the ideal of the rule of law. The rule of law is now commonly promoted by scholars, politicians and legal professions as essential to political and democratic reform in regions around the world, including in Southeast Asia. The rule of law is however an inherently contested concept, and there is vigorous debate over its substance, content and practical value. This course will provide an opportunity for students to reflect on law reform in number of countries in Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Myanmar. Core themes of the course include: law reform in authoritarian states; constitutional law; democratisation; the courts; the role of judicial review; human rights institutions; religion-state relations; and legal education. This is a research-intensive subject. This would course appeal to students with a wide range of interests who may be considering careers in: global law firms with branches in Southeast Asia; government; international organisations and development agencies, among others. This subject is open to both undergraduate and JD students.

Assessment
Research assignment 70%
Research proposal 10%
Class participation 10%

Learning outcomes:
  • Display a clear knowledge of the history and development of legal traditions in Southeast Asia, and understanding of contemporary legal issues relevant to the region
  • Evidence an advanced understanding of the rule of law and how this principle has been promoted and developed in legal systems in Southeast Asia
  • Navigate and apply constitutional provisions and statutes in both civil and common law countries in Southeast Asia
  • Engage in critical analysis of the role and function of constitutions and courts in Southeast Asia
  • Demonstrate effective oral communication skills by discussing and debating course concepts in a scholarly, reflective and respectful manner
  • Demonstrate the timely composition of effective and sophisticated written communication for a specialist audience 



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