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Level 8 legal studies


Indicators are adjuncts to the objectives – their purpose is to provide greater clarity in terms of expected depth and scope by providing examples of the kinds of behaviours and capabilities that a teacher might expect to observe in a student who is achieving at the appropriate level. Teachers can add further indicators if they wish.

Students can use the indicators as a guide when assessing their own progress; teachers can use them as a guide when reporting to parents, whānau, or the next teacher.

Context elaborations

Context elaborations are possible contexts for learning, with an indication of how they might be used in relation to the learning objectives concerned.

The listed context elaborations are examples only. Teachers can select and use entirely different contexts in response to local situation, community relevance, and students’ interests and needs.

Assessment for qualifications

The legal studies unit standards will be reviewed in 2011 or 2012. When the standards for this subject have been finalised, this guide will link them to the relevant learning objectives.

For information about the standards and access to the present legal studies unit standards go to the NZQA website. At present only level 2 and 3 legal studies unit standards available.

Learning objective 8.1: Legal concepts and principles

Students will gain knowledge, skills, and experience to:

  • evaluate and analyse legal concepts and principles.


  • Evaluate and analyse concepts of law.
  • Evaluate and analyse concepts of democracy and government.
  • Evaluate and analyse concepts of justice.

Possible context elaborations

  • Aims of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act, section 27:
    • to promote accurate, informed, objective, and rational decisions
    • to ensure decisions are taken in the interest of the public
    • to enshrine certain procedural values.
  • The nature of indigenous rights in common law and recognition of the Treaty of Waitangi:
    • The case of R v Symonds where New Zealand Courts recognise the existence of native title (only to have the recognition eroded in subsequent cases).
    • The case of New Zealand Maori Council v Attorney General defining the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.
    • The case of Mabo v Queensland (no. 2) recognising native title in Australia.
  • The balance between state power and individual rights: right to privacy, freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of information.
  • The function of the three branches of government: the executive, legislative, and judiciary branches.
  • Dicey’s five principles:
    • All are subject to the law.
    • All are equal before the law.
    • The courts are open to all.
    • Legal process is conducted in public.
    • Legal process is carried out according to established, predetermined procedures.

Learning objective 8.2: Legal systems and processes

Students will gain knowledge, skills, and experience to:

  • evaluate and analyse legal systems and processes.


  • Evaluates and analyses systems of government and their formation.
  • Evaluates and analyses law making processes.
  • Evaluates and analyses litigation and dispute resolution processes.

Possible context elaborations

  • Comparison of the election processes of a unitary system and a federal system: comparing New Zealand (a unitary system) with the United States or Australia (federal systems).
  • The nature and significance of constitutions: comparing unwritten constitutions (New Zealand) to written constitutions (the USA) and analysing the advantages and disadvantages.
  • The nature of international law and its creation:
    • the United Nations and its bodies (for example, the Security Council and WHO)
    • free trade agreements (for example, CER, New Zealand–China).
  • Treaties (for example, environment and science, such as the Kyoto Protocol, or human rights, such as the Hague Convention on international child abduction).
  • Formal means of challenging state power, for example petitions, administrative review, judicial review, court process (for example, habeas corpus), citizens-initiated referenda, ombudsmen, the international law process.

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Last updated August 9, 2013