We have detected you are using a machine at UQ and you do not currently have an active Internet Session. Any externally hosted content will not appear unless you have an active Internet session. Please create an Internet session by going to https://login.uq.edu.au

The TC Beirne School of Law 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.

Applications for the UQ Summer Scholarship Program 2016 have now opened.

The TC Beirne School of Law offers undergraduate students the opportunity to participate in the UQ Summer Research Scholarship Program over the summer vacation period (from mid-November to mid-February). 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.

For further details regarding the program please visit www.uq.edu.au/uqadvantage/info-for-applicants

Available projects

Project title: Taming the Wild Frontier: Law, Governance and Development in the PNG-Australia Borderland
Project duration: 6 weeks
Description:

The project explores the arrangements between Papua New Guinea and Australia, designed to govern the PNG-Australia Borderland. The unique Torres Strait Treaty currently allow relatively unrestricted cross-border movement of inhabitants of nominated PNG and Torres Strait communities, avoiding the need for intensive border control, and providing a range of economic benefits and services to PNG nationals.

More specifically, the project includes an analysis of the Treaty and research on a selection of other comparable maritime boundaries. It considers the very different systems of laws involved in these arrangements, spanning from international law to local, customary laws. The research examines in detail the issues thrown up by the interaction of the different laws in terms of both legitimacy and effectiveness.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:

The summer research scholar will be required to:

  • carry out a literature review;
  • identify and analyse relevant sources of law;
  • write case notes and summaries of legislation;
  • prepare and check footnotes in AGLC or other styles;
  • prepare flow charts and spread sheets regarding findings;
  • produce short reports summarising areas of law and other findings; and
  • assist with other legal and administrative tasks arising.

The project will be closely supervised by Professor Corrin, who is currently researching in this area with Professor Mark Moran, funded by an ARC Discovery Grant. The project will provide an opportunity for a student to gain an understanding of the importance of legal pluralism and to develop legal research skills. There may be an opportunity to collaborate on a research publication.

Suitable for: This project is open to students with a background in law. An interest in development studies and/or inter-disciplinary studies would be an advantage.
Primary Supervisor: Professor Jennifer Corrin
Further info: Students may contact professor Jennifer Corrin by email to j.corrin@law.uq.edu.au if they wish to discuss the project in more detail.
Project title: Fences and Fortresses: The impact of border measures on smuggling of migrants and irregular migration
Project duration: 8 weeks (from 2 January to 24 February 2017)
Description: In response to the growing number of irregular migrants, most of them asylum seekers, many destination countries have instituted measures to tighten border controls, build fences, and create other barriers to deny irregular migrants access to their territories.  Starting with Hungary in September 2015, several European nations created physical barriers to close their borders to irregular migrants.  In Australia, since 2013, the Government prevents irregular arrivals by boat from entering Australian territory and turns or tows vessel back to place of embarkation.  In the United States, the debate about extending the fence along the border to Mexico has dominated political debate for some time, including the 2016 presidential campaign.  This project documents the range of measures and proposals to close and control external borders and the impact of these measures on the levels and methods of smuggling of migrants and other forms of irregular migration.
Expected outcomes and deliverables:

The student working in this project will gain a detailed understanding of the laws, policies, and practical measures adopted to prevent the arrival of irregular migrants and will gain insight into the patterns and characteristics of smuggling of migrants.

The project also serves to equip students with advanced research and writing skills, relevant primary and secondary sources in this field of study, and provide an opportunity to contribute to a peer-reviewed publication at the completion of the project.

Suitable for:

The project is best suitable for applicants

  • In year three or higher of their law degree;
  • Have some prior research experience (major university research project; research assistance work);
  • Be able to read and conduct research in a second language other than English (preferably French, German, or Italian);
  • Have an interest in pursuing research higher degree studies after completion of their law degree.
Primary Supervisor: Prof Andreas Schloenhardt
Further info: Students should contact the primary supervisor by email prior to submitting their application (a.schloenhardt@uq.edu.au).
Project title: The McCloy test: is it compatible, coherent and workable?
Project duration: 14 November 2016 to 17 February 2017
Description:

The basis for the implied freedom of political communication is that ss 7 and 24 of the Constitution require that the Houses of Parliament be directly chosen by the people and that the Constitution can only be amended by a referendum under s 128. 

In Lange, the court devised a two-limbed test for determining whether a law contravened the implied freedom. The test was meant to be consistent with the foundation of the implication in the text and structure of the Constitution, rather than values extraneous to it. This test required the court to determine (1) whether the law imposes a burden on freedom of political communication, and (2) whether the law is reasonably appropriate and adapted to serve a legitimate end the fulfilment of which is compatible with the maintenance of the constitutionally prescribed system of representative and responsible government.

In Coleman, McHugh J insisted that the second limb of the Lange test does not entail a proportionality analysis, but rather requires the Court to assess whether both the objectives and the means adopted by the law are compatible with the constitutionally prescribed system. With the support of a majority of the Court, he proposed that the Lange test should be amended to make clear that the second limb involves an inquiry whether the law pursues an objective ‘in a manner’ that is compatible with the constitutionally prescribed system.

In McCloy, a majority of the High Court appeared to accept the two-limbed test as reformulated in Coleman, but added a third limb that mimics the approach to proportionality testing devised in European human rights law by requiring separate inquiries into the suitability, necessity and balance of the law.

This has given rise to several critical questions, including the following:

  • Is the proportionality test sufficiently connected to the basis of the implied freedom in the text and structure of the Constitution?
  • Is it coherent for the Court to continue to adopt the ‘manner’ aspect of the second limb of the test as advocated by McHugh J in Coleman while also adding a proportionality limb to the test?
  • What work is done by the second limb of the test that is not covered by the third limb?
Expected outcomes and deliverables: Students will gain skills in critical analysis of legal reasoning and have the opportunity to participate in the production of an article that will be submitted for publication in leading a peer-reviewed law journal. 
Suitable for: Students must have successfully completed Principles of Public Law and Constitutional Law.  Preference will be given to students who have demonstrated special aptitude for and interest in constitutional law through their results in these two courses. Preference will also be given to students with demonstrated ability to undertake original research, to reason precisely, and to write persuasively.
Primary Supervisor: Professor Nicholas Aroney
Further info: Students may contact Professor Aroney on n.aroney@uq.edu.au to discuss the project prior to submitting their applications. Professor Aroney will be overseas for some of the project duration, so students must be willing to communicate about the project by email during those times.
Project title: The prosecution of rape and sexual assault in Queensland.
Project duration: 6 weeks
Description:

One of the enduring problems with the prosecution of rape and sexual assault is that women’s evidence of sexual violence is excluded, marginalised and disbelieved. Myths and stereotypes have developed around ‘real rape’ and legal rules developed which reflected and sustained these myths and stereotypes. The legal presumption that rape victims are a class of particularly unreliable victims was developed centuries ago. Research has challenged many of these beliefs demonstrating that false reports of sexual offences are rare and that these offences are often perpetrated by people well-known to the victim. However despite legislative and procedural advances in rape law reform scholars have claimed there does not appear to have been any perceptible increase in successful prosecutions for rape and sexual assault. Victims continue to report that they are often inadequately prepared for or supported during the trial. Studies continue to reveal that the legislative reforms have often been very loosely managed or interpreted ‘generously’ by judges.

There is very little recent scholarship about how these issues play out in Queensland. This project will produce a literature review that reviews case law and interpretation and application of relevant evidence rules and identifies issues for further consideration. The researcher will also attempt to find statistical and other information about sexual assault and rape trials in Queensland and if time permits will assist in developing a plan for further research.

Expected outcomes and deliverables: Scholars may gain skills in data collection, legal case review, project planning and community engagement. Scholars will be asked to provide a written report and an oral presentation to staff at Women’s Legal Service.
Suitable for: This project is open to all students with a background in law. Applicants should have completed criminal law and procedure and ideally evidence.
Primary Supervisor: Heather Douglas and Caitlin Goss (with Angela Lynch, Women’s Legal Service)
Further info: Please contact Heather Douglas h.douglas@law.uq.edu.au  or Caitlin Gossc.goss@law.uq.edu.au for further information.
Project title: Intersecting Attributes and Discrimination at Work 
Project duration: 6 weeks.
Description:

Anti-discrimination, civil rights and international human rights laws all prohibit discrimination on certain attributes.  This right to equality is operationalised through, in part, prohibiting people in certain relationships from discrimination on certain grounds.  The test for when discrimination has occurred is legalistic and complex, but essentially discrimination occurs where a person is treated differently because of an attribute than people without that attribute.  This is called the comparator test.

The comparator test is complex when it is seeking to determine if discrimination based upon one attribute have experienced discrimination.  For example: men and women, abled and disabled, homosexual or heterosexual.  The process for determining when discrimination has occurred is extremely problematic where a person has multiple or intersecting attributes.  In other words, a person has experienced discrimination not because they are a woman, or because they are disabled or because they are Asian, but because they are an Asian woman with a disability.  Laws struggle to appropriate reflect the compounding impact of intersecting sites of discrimination.

This project argues that anti-discrimination laws and international human rights conventions approach to intersecting attributes illustrates how artificial constructions of difference impact negatively upon people with different abilities.  This project will analyse:

  • Identify examples from legislation, case law, debates and scholarship where anti-discrimination, civil rights and industrial relations laws and international human rights conventions have struggled to appropriately balance competing interests when developing and applying comparator tests for people with various attributes.
  • How have comparator tests approached intersecting attributes?  The problems with comparator tests are magnified when a person has intersecting attributes.  Anti-discrimination laws are siloed into discrete attribute specific remedies.  In some situations the siloing of remedies by attribute has resulted in attribute specific legislation such as the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth).  Even within omnibus anti-discrimination laws that cover a range of attributes, such as the Equality Act 2010 (UK), when using these statutes the court usually requires complainants to focus on a single attribute.  As a result, the true reasons or experience of discrimination is not reflected in legal processes.  When disability intersects with other attributes or inequalities, to what extent is the disablement experienced by having different abilities magnified?  This could manifest in a range of combinations, for example: as disability and a survivor of domestic violence; family responsibilities and a child with a disability; disability and minority race.  When laws fail to factor in the intersecting aspects of disability and race, then the law is failing to reflect the real experiences of ability discrimination.
  • What regulatory challenges are created by recognising multiple categories?  The benefit of the siloed approach is that is easier for regulated parties to understand the grounds on which discrimination is prohibited.  Without a clear command it is difficult to comply with the command or to control non-compliance.  If the law fully recognised intersecting attributes then this would expand the situations where discrimination is prohibited even further than the current system.  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDhR) broadly prohibits discrimination on 10 attributes.  If multiple attributes were included, where every attribute is combined with another attribute, such as disability and sex, then there is the initial list of 10 attributes plus the list of combined attributes of 45 (10*9/2/1).  If the possibility of multiple attributes was expanded to 2 or 3 multiple attributes, such as disability, race and sex, then the number of attributes would include the 10 listed in the UDHR, then a list of 45 where 2 attributes are combined and then an additional list of 120 (10*9*8/3/2/1) where there are 3 multiple attributes combined.
Expected outcomes and deliverables:

The summer research scholar will be required to:

  • carry out a literature review;
  • identify and analyse relevant sources of law;
  • write case notes and summaries of legislation;
  • prepare and check footnotes in AGLC or other styles;
  • produce short reports summarising areas of law and other the findings; and the project will be closely supervised by Dr Paul Harpur
Suitable for: This project is open to students with a background in law. An interest in anti-discrimination, labour law or human rights law would be an advantage.
Primary Supervisor: Dr Paul Harpur
Further info: Students may contact Dr Paul Harpur by email to p.harpur@law.uq.edu.au  if they wish to discuss the project in more detail.

 

UQ's Summer Research Scholarship Program is held over the summer vacation period, from mid-November to mid-February.

UQ's Winter Research Scholarship Program is held over the winter vacation period, from June to July.

More information

Claire Ritchie
Research Officer

+61 7 3365 7903