About

The School offers undergraduate students the opportunity to participate in the UQ Summer & Winter Research Scholarship Programs over the summer and winter vacation periods. 

This experience provides students with the opportunity to work with a researcher in a formal research environment so that they may experience the research process and discover what research is being undertaken in their field of interest at the School.

How to apply

Read the detailed information guide on how to apply for a research program. 

Projects

Four projects are offered in the 2020/2021 Summer Research Program. 

Applications open 24 August. The due date for applications is 27 September.

Applications open 24 August. The due date for applications is 27 September.

Project title: 

Misinformation in Election Campaigns:  Comparative Regulation

Project duration & delivery

5-6 weeks. This project can be completed remotely.
Very occasional request of print books may be an advantage.

Description

There is international concern over ‘fake news’ and its potential effects on electoral democracy.    Election law has been slow to adapt to this problem. However different countries have some pre-existing regulation on their books in this regard. This project aims to compare that regulation, across the major common law/Westminster-derived democracies. The US is to be ignored as it has a very different party and electoral system.

Scope:  
To compare UK, Australia, NZ, Canada, India and South Africa, giving a critical exegesis of their existing electoral law rules against false or misleading campaign speech. 

Partly this is historical and descriptive – these laws trace back either to ‘electoral defamation’ offence in the UK in the 1880s, or to laws against ‘misleading’ election speech and advertising in recent times (that have some commonality with consumer protection law).

Expected outcomes and deliverables

Student will work with two professors – primarily Graeme Orr (UQ) but also his collaborator and co-author Keith Ewing (King's College London). Keith was due to be a distinguished visitor at UQ in April but returned home as COVID-19 restrictions increased. 

The student will learn about comparative legal method, as well as the interesting area of the law of electoral politics. Supervisors Orr and Ewing are well-published in this area.

The student will build on two affidavits written by Orr and Ewing on the countries in question for ongoing Canadian constitutional litigation.
These affidavits scope the topic in some detail, discuss conflicting ‘free speech’ vs ‘good deliberation’ norms, and identify the key legislation in question.

The student will pursue two main lines of inquiry across the countries in question:

  • Case law on the relevant sections, both enforcement (offence or civil electoral petitions) and any constitutional challenges to such provisions.
  • Secondary material (governmental reports and especially academic commentary).

Reported case law is rare in this area (enforcement tends to be in magistrates courts or administrative, and of the countries concerned, 2.5 do not have constitutionalised ‘freedom of speech’). The bulk of the discovery will probably be in the secondary material.

The student will be expected to locate such material, and summarise it in several ‘memos’ by jurisdiction - in table form for the cases, and in more narrative form for secondary material.

Following the summer project work, and after Orr and Ewing write the paper up for a UK journal, the student will be invited and paid to style and help proofread the article (COVID-19 effected research budgets permitting).
The timeline for this is mid-2021.

Suitable for:

Open to students who have studied Principles of Public Law and have a high GPA (6 or above).
Preference may be given to someone with either or both of the following:

  • Previous law RA experience (ideally with reference from the academic involved);
  • Done well in Constitutional Law or Law of Political Institutions (last offered as an elective in 2019), or political science.

Primary Supervisor

Professor Graeme Orr

Further info Questions about this project may be directed to Prof Graeme Orr at g.orr@law.uq.edu.au

Project title

Intent, mistake of fact and autonomous military systems

Project duration & delivery

8 weeks (30 November 2020 to 19 February 2021).

The applicant will be able to carry out the project remotely.

Description

Technologically advanced armed forces are developing autonomous systems – devices and platforms that can operate for periods of time without real-time human intervention. Australia is no exception: the Commonwealth Government is investing heavily in the research and development of trusted autonomous systems that may have the potential to support the Australian Defence Force (ADF) capability in the future. Such systems could assist the ADF in a range of activities, including logistics, intelligence gathering, and targeting.

Autonomous systems acquired by the ADF would need to be operated by defence personnel consistently with existing law and military doctrine. But what happens if, because the operator is mistaken about something related to the system, another person is injured or killed, or property is damaged or destroyed? How would a failure to properly understand an autonomous system, or to predict its behaviour, be legally significant in any subsequent criminal proceedings?

This research project will examine how the requirement of intent, and the defence of mistake of fact, might apply to the use of autonomous systems by Australian defence personnel in violation of criminal law. Using a doctrinal method of analysis, it will consider mens rea and mistake of fact under the Defence Force Discipline Act 1982 and the Commonwealth Criminal Code 1995, and assess whether and in what circumstances a defence member could be held criminally liable for failing to properly understand the operation of an autonomous system.

Expected outcomes and deliverables

The aim of the research project is to develop a journal article for publication in a law journal.

The student would gain the experience of working in a legal research team – the Law and the Future of War research group. The project would contribute to an ongoing research program that is of strategic interest to the School, Faculty and the University.

Suitable for:

The project is open to applications for students who have completed LAWS2113 Criminal Law and Procedure A (or equivalent) and LAWS2114 Criminal Law and Procedure B (or equivalent). Preference will be given to students who have also completed LAWS3705 Public International Law (or equivalent).

Primary Supervisor

Associate Professor Rain Liivoja

Further info

Questions about this project may be directed to A/Prof Liivoja at r.liivoja@uq.edu.au.

Project title

Press Freedom and Closed Courts

Project duration & delivery

8 weeks. The project can be completed by distance/off-site if necessary.

Description

Press freedom and open justice are fundamental to the rule of law and the liberal democratic system. But sometimes courts close their doors to the press and the public. This could be to protect the parties, or witnesses, national security or even – as recently experienced in the context of COVID-19 – public health.

This project explores the interaction between press freedom and closed courts. It will map the various laws, processes and justifications behind courts closing their doors to the media and the public. This will provide the basis for a critical analysis of whether these schemes adequately account for (or even consider) the public interests in press freedom and, relatedly, open justice. Analysis will focus on legal research methods, involving close analysis of statutes, practice directions and case law across Australia.

This research will valuably contribute to a broader program of interdisciplinary research on press freedom and national security in collaboration with Prof Peter Greste (UNESCO Chair of Journalism and Communications, UQ), and the Alliance for Journalists’ Freedom.

Expected outcomes and deliverables

Scholars may gain skills in legal analysis within a complex legal and political context. They will have the opportunity to contribute to policy briefs and possible academic publications, with a view to informing law reform for press freedom, open justice and fair trial rights. They will gain experience in collaborative research across law and journalism and will present research findings to leading scholars across these fields.

The project may lead to RHD research and/or an undergraduate Honours project, and explore potential research questions and methods in law and in collaboration with communications and/or political science.  

Suitable for:

This project is open to applications from UQ enrolled law students in at least their third year of study. High-level legal research and critical analysis skills are required. A demonstrated capacity to communicate in a concise and accessible way about complex legal concepts is preferred.

Primary Supervisor

Dr Rebecca Ananian-Welsh

Further info

Questions about this project may be directed to Dr Ananian-Welsh at rebecca.aw@law.uq.edu.au

Project title: 

Foreign (non-citizen) judges & their judgments in Brunei Darussalam

Project duration

 

The research for the project can be completed online. There is flexibility regarding duration but between 4-6 weeks.

Description

Brunei Darussalam, like many post-colonial nations, utilises foreign (non-citizen judges) in its common law courts. Importantly, since inception Brunei’s Appeal Court has been constituted by three judges from other common law jurisdictions; mainly England and Hong Kong, but also Australia and India.

This model of foreign judges in the highest court sits somewhat uncomfortably in a nation striving for zikir status [which is full compliance with Syariah], and where Syariah-informed laws are increasingly enacted including criminal law and evidence; where the jurisdiction of Syariah Courts encroaches onto the common law courts and the role for Syari’e judges increased.

This research seeks to assess and consider the practical, symbolic and now increasingly contested role for foreign common-law trained judges in the Sultanate. What are the rationales for the continuing use of foreign judges? What are the benefits and challenges of drawing judges from outside the jurisdiction? Do they affect the social or normative legitimacy of the courts? Is there an impact (positive or negative) on judicial independence? What can they offer to a dual/pluralistic legal system? And could their role now be deemed anachronistic or paternalistic?

Expected outcomes and deliverables

Please highlight what applicants can expect to gain/learn from participating in the project, and what they will be expected to complete as a part of the project.   

This project requires the scholar to review and analyse the cases heard in the Appeal Court over the last two decades. It would include the appeal process, the type of matters heard and determined in the Court of Appeal, which cases raise a significant legal question, an evaluation of the judicial reasoning, cases cited [whether Bruneian or from other common law jurisdictions], and any propensity for collective over individual judgments.  

Scholars would gain skills in case analysis, data compilation and would be encouraged to write a report on the findings with a personal evaluation of the usefulness for continuing or discontinuing the role for foreign judges.

Suitable for:

This project is open to applications from students with an interest in other legal systems, especially in post-colonial Asian nations; and/or students with an understanding of, and interest in legal pluralism.

It is for UQ enrolled students only.

Primary Supervisor

Associate Professor Ann Black

Further info Questions about this project may be directed to A/Prof Black at a.black@law.uq.edu.au

Winter Research Programs were not offered in 2020.