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The School of Law offers three levels of programmes of study - one at vocational or sub-degree level, an undergraduate Bachelor of Laws degree, combined Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Arts degree and research level degree programmes including the Master of Laws and the Doctor of Philosophy programme. All programmes are open to students from the University’s member countries as well as to students from outside the region.

The USP School of Law has a co-operation agreement with Waikato University N.Z. School of Law for the offering of the Masters programme. Students from either institution may undertake courses offered by the other institution. USP students will therefore have available in second semester 1999 elective courses offered by USP and Waikato. The Waikato courses will be made available to USP students through Internet delivery and back-up instruction.

A full-time, four year Bachelor's degree course (LLB) is offered for students who wish to obtain degree level qualifications in law, which may be used as a stepping stone to entry into the legal profession. The first year of the degree programme may be studied in either the extension mode or face to face at the Laucala campus in Suva. The second, third and fourth years are to be taught face to face in the law school at the Emalus campus in Port Vila, Vanuatu.

Two sub-degree Certificates in Law are available for those students who do not require degree level knowledge of the law, but who may be working in the legal field and wish to know more about the specific areas of law in which they work, and of the law in general. These vocational courses are available only by extension, and may be taken over a period of time to suit the students’ work and other commitments. Students may enrol in a Certificate in Law (Criminal) or a Certificate of Law (Civil). The certificate is awarded when a student completes six of the subjects required for the particular type of certificate. Most subjects may be completed during one semester of study and require a number of assignments to be completed, followed by a final examination.

Because of USP’s commitment to distance education it is a dual mode entry University. The School offers some law degree courses after 100 level. These courses are available either through the traditional extension mode of teaching or, for students in Suva, using Internet based course materials.

The School of Law is also associated with the Institute of Justice & Applied Legal Studies in Suva, Fiji Islands.


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LLB and LLM Degree Programme

Studying Law on Two Campuses

Laucala Campus is home to over four thousand students from the South Pacific region and some from outside the region. It has a well equipped library, dormitory accommodation, family quarters and kitchen and dining facilities, as well as a shopping centre, community recreation area, sports fields and swimming pool. It is situated on the gently rolling hills behind Suva City, on what was the New Zealand Air Force base during World War II, and is within 10 minutes’ bus ride of the city centre.

First year law courses are now also offered at the Emalus Campus in Port Vila, Vanuatu where the second, third and fourth years study. The campus has a library, dormitory accommodation, kitchen and dining facilities, as well as a football field and netball court. The campus is situated behind Port Vila, overlooking a lagoon and hilltops and is within a 5 minute bus ride of the centre of the town.

The post-degree professional legal practice course, for those who are proposing to practise law as a profession, is offered by the Institute of Justice and Applied Legal Studies on Laucala Campus. The programme is offered in close association with the legal profession, government departments and law offices. It is of 6 months duration. A person who holds both the USP Bachelor of Laws and the Professional Diploma in Legal Practice is entitled to apply for admission as a legal practitioner in the countries of the USP region. Students seeking admission in other countries might have to meet additional requirements such as completing additional courses or sitting a bar examination. Further information on the Diploma visit the IJALS home page.


Focus on South Pacific Legal Systems

The education of lawyers who eventually practise in the South Pacific region has up until now, largely been provided by other common-law jurisdictions, notably Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the United Kingdom. Whilst this system has produced many able lawyers it has not satisfied the need for a form of legal education focused on the concerns of the jurisdictions of the region. Neither has it facilitated the qualification of the region’s own students. Those who have trained abroad have done so at considerable expense either to themselves, their families, government or aid agencies. Perhaps the most significant criticism, however, is that this process has not produced a sufficient range of lawyers who fully understand at first hand the laws operating in the various jurisdictions of the South Pacific region.

Therefore, the focus of the USP law programme is on the laws of the countries in the USP region. Law graduates from USP will not only achieve international academic standards but will also acquire an in-depth knowledge of the laws, including customary law, of their own particular countries, and also a high standard of knowledge of the laws and the legal systems of the countries within the University region. The diversity and quality of this programme cannot be duplicated elsewhere in the world. There is considerable merit in learning law in such a comparative way.


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Bachelor of Laws

Admission Requirements

The normal entry requirements for a degree at USP apply to the LLB programme:


In addition, a special form of entry to the law degree will be available to:


Rules for Progression

Students are required to complete all the prerequisites for the courses they enrol in. For example, all courses in the second year have a component in first semester, and a further component in second semester. The prerequisites state whether it is necessary for the student to have passed the first component in order to progress to the second component.

Where students fail to successfully complete one or more of the courses comprising the programme of study for each year, the normal USP rules about carrying failed courses to the next year’s study will apply. For instance, students may carry two courses forward from the 100 level, to be completed along with the necessary 200 level courses of study.

The School generally discourages overloading by students unless in exceptional issues. Furthermore there are standard University policies relating to unsatisfactory progress. Advice on progression and enrolment issues should be sought from the Head of School, from the Academic Office, Laucala Campus, or from the Senior Assistant Registrar (Emalus).


Law Courses Offered in the Bachelor Degree Programme

The following indicates how the degree programme will look with effect from February 1999:

Year I

Year I consists of 8 courses, 7 of which are compulsory (see below). There are courses in English, History and Sociology to ensure that students have an adequate language skills and understanding of societial and political issues before grappling with legal concepts.

  • LA100 Legal Systems I
  • LA101 Legal Systems II
  • LA102 Legal Method and Research
  • LL114 English for Academic Purposes (unless exempted)
  • SO100 Study of Society
  • HP100 Introduction to Politics
  • HP101 Government and Public Policy in the South Pacific
  • HP102 Contemporary History
  • Any two non-law 100 level courses in any discipline

Year II

Year II comprises 8 courses, all of which are compulsory. They include the three "core" law subjects of Contracts I and II, Criminal Law and Procedure I and II and Public Law I and II.

  • LA201 Law of Contract I
  • LA202 Law of Contract II
  • LA205 Criminal Law and Procedure I
  • LA206 Criminal Law and Procedure II
  • LA207 Public Law I
  • LA208 Public Law II
  • LA203 Torts 1
  • LA204 Torts 2

Years III and IV

Year III includes more "core" subjects of Property I and II, Equity, Trusts and Succession I and II, and the remainder are elective courses which students can choose to suit their own career needs. Four elective courses must be chosen. An extensive range of optional courses is provided, and counseling will be available to assist students select appropriate combinations of courses.

Year IV consists of two compulsory courses: Current Developments in Pacific Law and Legal Drafting. The remaining subjects are optional and may be elected to suit future requirements of individual students. Six elective courses must be chosen. An extensive range of optional subjects is available, and counseling will assist students to make appropriate selections.

Electives for Years III and IV
  • LA306 Family Law
  • LA308 Company and Partnership Law I
  • LA309 Company and Partnership Law II
  • LA310 Evidence
  • LA311 Civil Procedure and Dispute Resolution
  • LA312 Public International Law
  • LA313 Commercial Law
  • LA314 Foreign Trade and Investment Law
  • LA315 Revenue and Taxation Law
  • LA316 Transport Law
  • LA317 Labour Law
  • LA318 Comparative Legal Systems
  • LA319 Conflict of Laws
  • LA320 Natural Resources Law
  • LA321 Environmental Law I
  • LA330 Environmental Law II
  • LA322 Customary Law
  • LA323 French Commercial Law
  • LA325 Personal Rights
  • LA326 Research Project
  • LA331 Law Clinic
  • LA332 Jurisprudence
  • LA333 Legal Sociology

It should be noted that not all electives are offered every year. The School normally offers five electives each semester. Elective offerings are rotated to ensure that students are exposed to a wide range of choice in Years 3 and 4.


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Master of Laws and Ph.D Studies


For information regarding eligibility for admission to Doctoral studies at the School of Law please contact the Head of School - Professor Bob Hughes at

The Masters programme has been available since mid-1999 by way of thesis only or a combination of coursework and thesis. For the first option admission will only be available to students who have a first class or second class honours degree, demonstrated research capacity or extensive professional experience. Admission for the coursework/thesis option are less stringent. Applications for admission are considered by the Post Graduate Studies Committee of the School of Law, which makes recommendations to the USP Academic Committee.

In respect of the coursework/thesis option, candidates must complete a two week preparation course in basic research methods to be called the Graduate Goals and Methods Programme (GGMP). This programme has been developed at Waikato University and delivered by staff of USP Law School. It is a preparatory research skills programme which can be delivered over two weeks. Students who have already completed the USP undergraduate course LA 326 Research Topic or its equivalent such as an honours degree would normally be exempted from that programme.

In addition to the GGMP all students must complete the course Advanced Pacific Legal Studies. Students will also be required in addition to complete two electives and a thesis.


Masters Courses to be Offered by USP School of Law

Electives include-

LA400 - Advanced Pacific Legal Studies (compulsory)
LA401 - South Pacific Constitutional Law (awaiting formal approval)
LA402 - Advanced South pacific Dispute Resolution (awaiting formal approval)
LA 407 - Pacific Land Tenure
LA 424 - European Community Law relating to the Pacific
LA 425 - Law of the Sea
LA 322/422 - Customary Law

The USP School of Law has a co-operation agreement with Waikato University N.Z. School of Law for the offering of the Masters programme. Students from either institution may undertake courses offered by the other institution. Students will therefore also have available from second semester 1999 elective courses offered by Waikato. These will be made available to USP students through Internet delivery and back-up instruction. The courses include Comparative Pacific Constitutional Law (0860.504B) and Pacific International Law (0860.505A).

Brown_orange_arrows.gif (236 bytes) MORE INFORMATION ON THE MASTERS DEGREE

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Certificates offered by in the School of Law


Certificate in Civil Law
Compulsory Courses:
  • LAC01 Introduction to Law
  • LAC02 Types of Law
  • LAC03 Legal Interpretation


Optional Courses - three of:
  • LAC04 Private
  • LAC05 Law for Administrators
  • LAC06 Business Law
  • LAC07 Civil Courts
Certificate in Criminal Law
Compulsory Courses
  • LAC01 Introduction to Law
  • LAC02 Types of Law or LAC03 Legal Interpretation
  • LAC05 Law for Administrators
  • LAC08 Criminal Liability
  • LAC09 Policing
  • LAC10 Criminal Courts
All courses are compulsory in the Certificate in Criminal Law


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University of the South Pacific 1998-2002

If you have any comments, suggestions or difficulties with using this web site please email
Robynne Blake
, Internet Project Manager, The School of Law, The University of the South Pacific or fax: (678) 27785

Last Update: Monday, June 02, 2003 08:20