What is a Juris Doctor?

A Juris Doctor is a postgraduate qualification for people who want to become a lawyer in Australia and have either completed an undergraduate degree in another subject area (for example, a Bachelor of Commerce) or have a law degree from another country. 

A Juris Doctor takes three years of full-time study to complete or a maximum of eight years of part-time study. UNSW’s Juris Doctor offers more flexibility than any other Go8 university, allowing students to curate their timetable to fit around work and family commitments. Plus, you’ll have access to career-defining experiences, like serving your community at UNSW’s in-house legal service or heading to New York to learn from leading international human rights lawyers at the United Nations.


How does a Juris Doctor help you become a lawyer?

A Juris Doctor will help you meet the academic requirements for practising law in Australia. Like an undergraduate law degree, a Juris Doctor covers all of the study areas required by the Legal Professional Admission Board, providing you with a solid foundation in law. This includes criminal law, torts, property law, contracts, equity and trusts and constitutional law.

You’ll also complete eight electives as part of your Juris Doctor at UNSW, which allow you to explore specialised areas of law, giving you the knowledge and skills to take your legal career in whichever direction you want to take it, or pair it with knowledge gleaned in your undergraduate degree or professional experience.

Once you’ve completed your Juris Doctor, you’ll need to complete Practical Legal Training (PLT) if you intend to become a practising lawyer in Australia. UNSW’s PLT is the Graduate Diploma in Legal Professional Practice (GDLPP). After completing your PLT, you can apply for admission and launch your legal career – whether that's working as a lawyer in the private sector, for a non-profit or community legal centre, for the government, as an in-house lawyer for a start-up or wherever your career takes you.

What will I study in a Juris Doctor?

No matter what spurred your decision to study a Juris Doctor, from protecting the environment to fighting for criminal justice, you’ll find inspiration and purpose at UNSW. In addition to your prescribed courses, you’ll have the opportunity to study a wide range of electives, in Australia and overseas.

Study cybercrime, information security and digital enforcement and learn about hacking, denial of service attacks, digital extortion, and other challenges to critical infrastructure in the online world. Explore health and medical law, a new and growing discipline in Australia, and delve into patient rights, First Nations health, medical negligence, mental health and more. 

Explore the emerging field of privacy and publicity law, and learn about its ever-increasing significance in a world dominated by social media. Or head to New York to study human rights law, where you’ll learn from leading US and international human rights lawyers to provide cutting-edge case studies from US courts, regional human rights commissions and the UN system – including a visit to the United Nations itself. 

Why choose a UNSW Juris Doctor if you want to be a lawyer?

Our law school is ranked first in Sydney and twelfth globally*. We offer the most flexible postgraduate legal training of all Go8 universities. Choose between full-time and part-time study, and change your study load from term to term to suit your work and personal commitments. 

You can also choose between in-person campus learning or a customisable combination of face-to-face and online learning, including the option to complete up to half of your weekly lectures online, so you can shape your studies around your priorities outside of university – whatever they are.   

You’ll also have the opportunity to get hands-on experience at UNSW’s in-house clinic, Kingsford Legal Centre, a community legal centre that provides free legal services to Sydneysiders who need help.

*QS World University Rankings by Subject, 2024


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