The study of law and criminology is about changing the way you think about the world and the laws and policies that govern it. It isn’t merely about memorising the rules but about challenging them. Getting settled into this new learning environment might take some time, but with the help of this guide, your peers and teachers, we think you’ll enjoy the journey as much as the destination.
Bachelor or Laws (LLB) – LLB students study law as part of a double degree and in their first year will usually take one law subject per term. Each subject will have five hours of classes or structured learning activities per week for nine weeks (over a ten-week period). There will be assigned readings prior to each class as set out on Moodle. As a guide, students in first year subjects can expect no less than one hour of reading for every hour of class. You will also need to schedule in time for assignments and other assessment items and to revise for the exam at the end of term. The workload for your other degree will depend on what you are studying. For example, Science may include lab time in addition to classes. Check with the relevant faculty for more information.
Juris Doctor (JD) – If you are a full-time JD student, your first-year load will be two or three law subjects per term. Each subject will have five hours of classes or structured learning activities per week for nine weeks (over a ten-week period). There will be assigned readings prior to each class as set out on Moodle and, as a guide, students in first year subjects can expect no less than one hour of reading for every hour of class. You will also need to schedule in time for assignments and other assessment items and to revise for the exam at the end of term. It is a heavy workload, and many students find the volume of reading to be a challenge at first. In later years the number of contact hours and the volume of reading varies and depends on whether the subject is a core course or elective.
Bachelor of Criminology and Criminal Justice (BCCJ) – BCCJ students study Criminology as a standalone degree or as part of a double degree with Law or Social Work. Each subject will have three hours of classes or structured learning activities per week for nine weeks (over a ten-week period). Class time will be supplemented by assigned readings and/or activities that should be completed prior to each class as set out on Moodle. As a guide, students in first year subjects can expect one to two readings per week per course, which will require around hour of reading time for every hour of class. You will also need to schedule in time for assignments throughout the term and exam revision at the end of term in courses where exams are set. The workload for your other degree will depend on what you are studying. For example, Law courses have different associated work hours per week per course (see above for details), and Social Work courses will often include significant placement requirements. Check with your Program Authority or Director if you have any questions.
Most Law & Justice courses have multiple assessment tasks. A typical pattern of assessment is divided into a take-home assignment (40%), an examination under open book conditions (50%) and a class participation mark (10%). The latter is for class participation rather than performance. It's generally a measure of your level of engagement with the class rather than your brilliance at answering questions, so it's less threatening than it might seem, and it's a valuable learning tool.
The calibre of our students is very high and consequently the failure rate is very low – about 1–2%. Withdrawal from the year is more common than failure, as some people might decide Law & Justice isn’t right for them. If you appear to be having difficulties, the lecturer will ask to meet with you to determine whether your performance is due to an academic problem, lack of motivation, family or personal problems, or something else. Where there seems to be an academic issue, we will direct the student to the Peer Tutor Program or the Learning Centre, or wherever else is appropriate. Where there are other issues affecting a student’s work, they may be directed to additional support services and/or advised to withdraw without failure for the year and return the following year.
The Peer Tutor Program is for first-year students to help them adjust to studying Law & Justice. Senior Law & Justice students are trained by the Learning Centre and paid by UNSW to provide free assistance to new students. After each assessment task, lecturers identify students who might benefit from a peer tutor. Generally, students spend about six weeks meeting with their peer tutor along with two or three other students, and after that time they will often then form an independent study group as their academic confidence grows. About 30–50% of first-year students benefit from the program each year.
Generally, the first person a student would talk to is their lecturer or, if it is a course-related matter, the Program Director. Student Services located in the Nucleus Student Hub can also help answer your questions or can connect you with the relevant contact.
Here at UNSW Law & Justice, we have International Student Support Advisors who are academic members of staff and your first port of call for any academic issues or concerns. The advisors also convene workshops throughout the year on a range of topics such as preparing for class, class participation and preparing for your assessments.
You can contact any member of the team individually or send the team an email.