LAWPUBL 405 : Special Topic: Law and Social Justice


2021 Semester Two (1215) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

The role of law and legal practice in the advancement of social justice, including an introduction to theories of social justice and their application in diverse areas of social policy including criminal justice, housing, welfare, immigration, tax, and in relation to the Maori and Pasifika dimensions of Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Course Overview

The course is taught by way of short modules from a number of the Law School's permanent faculty. Students are invited to do their 60% research paper in a particular field, associated with one or more of these modules. The research topic is to be selected and approved early in the course with the due date at the end of lectures.

In their various ways, the components of the course will explore how the law and legal practice can be used to advance a vision of social justice in New Zealand – both by identifying ways in which law can act as a barrier to social justice and how it can be reformed and deployed to achieve positive results.  The course includes a focus on what is meant by social justice and on the phenomenon of public interest lawyering. 

Those involved in teaching the course in 2021 are:

1 Jayden Houghton – Introduction to social justice, public interest law and the roles of lawyers 

2  Arie Rosen – Using the law to achieve social justice: libertarians, liberals, and beyond  

3 David Grinlinton – Is there a right to adequate housing in international law, and if so, what are the implications for New Zealand? 

4 Kate Doolin –  Prison culture and pathways: the search for alternatives 

5 Fleur Te Aho – Tamariki in state care: a case study in social justice 

6 Michael Littlewood – Where does the money come from? Taxation and tax policy as an instrument of social justice 

7 Dylan Asafo and Litia Tuiburelevu – Pasifika in New Zealand and the search for social justice 

8 Anna Hood and Pene Mathew – Migration, refuge, and global social justice 

9 Julia Tolmie and Scott Optican – Law enforcement, criminal policy and social justice

And there will be guest lectures. The Course Director is Paul Rishworth.

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: LAW 201 and 211

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
Capability 6: Social and Environmental Responsibilities
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Laws

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate an understanding of and appraise the way in which persons speak of social justice and its indicators (Capability 1.1, 1.3, 2.2, 2.3, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 6.1, 6.2 and 6.3)
  2. Evaluate and reflect on the use of law and law reform as a tool for advancing social justice (Capability 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 3.2, 3.3, 4.1, 5.2 and 6.3)
  3. Develop and demonstrate a good understanding of a discrete area of law and the means by which it bears upon matters of social justice (Capability 1.1, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3 and 3.1)
  4. Evaluate the idea of public interest legal practice in its various forms (Capability 3.2, 3.3, 4.1, 6.2 and 6.3)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Assignments 10% Individual Coursework
Research 60% Individual Coursework
Test 30% Individual Test
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4
Assignment (10%) 
Students will post a 450 word contribution to the Canvas discussion board (6%) and write two short 75 word peer reviews on other students’ contributions (2% each). The contribution will be due in week 3 and the peer reviews will be due in week 4.
Research Paper (60%)
Students will prepare a 4,500 word research paper on a topic related to law and social justice, as approved by one of the contributing Faculty members. The paper will be due in week 12.
Test (30%) 
The take-home test will invite students to reflect on the broad themes of the course. The test will be due in week 11.

Workload Expectations

This is a standard 15-point course. There will be around 36 hours of lectures in this course. As a general guide, you should expect a workload of three hours outside of the classroom for each hour spent in class. The guideline for the total workload for this course is 150 hours.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance is expected at lectures.
Lectures will be available as recordings. 
The course will not include live online events.
Attendance on campus is not required for the test.
The lectures for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable.

Learning Resources

There is no required text. Readings will be distributed.

Student Feedback

At the end of every semester students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback and respond with summaries and actions.

Your feedback helps teachers to improve the course and its delivery for future students.

Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the department and faculty staff-student consultative committees.

Digital Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course director, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a Student Academic and Support Adviser as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and your assessment is fair, and not compromised. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the University Website for information about how to proceed.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course you may be asked to submit your coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. The final decision on the completion mode for a test or examination, and remote invigilation arrangements where applicable, will be advised to students at least 10 days prior to the scheduled date of the assessment, or in the case of an examination when the examination timetable is published.

Published on 19/07/2021 11:30 a.m.