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Sydney Law School, Sydney

The first law school established in Australia, Sydney Law School’s 150-year history is matched by its innovative approach to legal education. In 2011, Sydney Law School launched its new J.D. program, with an international focus unique among Australian law schools.

The Law School offers degrees at all levels, beginning with an undergraduate (LL.B.) program and continuing with postgraduate and research degrees (J.D., LL.M., Ph.D. and S.J.D.). Sydney’s LL.B. and J.D. programs are specifically designed to prepare students for today’s transnational and international legal work. The University also boasts one of the largest study abroad and exchange programs in the country, promoting a truly diverse academic environment.

Faculty scholarship extends across the entire range of international law, including human rights, migration law, and private international law. In addition to the special emphasis Sydney Law School places on international and comparative law, it also maintains a strong profile in taxation, corporate and criminal law, and jurisprudence, as well as in specialized areas such as environmental and health law.


The University of Sydney has a network of campuses throughout the Sydney area. The Law School moved into its new state-of-the-art complex, at the center of the main Camperdown/Darlington campus, in 2009, bringing it closer to other faculties and resources and representing a new era for law teaching at The University of Sydney. The flagship building houses a moot court facility, research centers and institutes, the law library, and teaching spaces.

Sydney boasts an average of over 300 sunny days a year, and the city and its environs offer a rich variety of culture, entertainment, cuisine, and natural beauty. HLS students can explore the city with the discounted transit pass they receive as part of the exchange agreement. The campus is bordered by several suburbs with an inner-city village feel, such as Glebe and Newtown, where many students live and socialize. The delights of Sydney Harbor, including the famous Bridge and Opera House, are a short trip away by train or bus, and Pacific Ocean beaches such as Bondi (where students also tend to congregate) are a few miles east of the campus. Many of the city’s main sports venues. including the Sydney Cricket Ground and Sydney Football Stadium, are also close to the campus.

Course Offerings and Credits

HLS students may select courses (“units”) from the Law School’s extensive LL.B. curriculum. Generally, a full-time course load consists of 24 credits each semester, comprised of four 6-credit courses. Each course typically requires three hours of class each week, which translates to roughly the equivalent of an HLS 4-credit course.

“The manner of instruction is somewhat less formal…Students call professors by their first names, and the professors treat students more as their equals. I found that this created much better flow in class discussions, and it also led students to put in more effort.”
– Nicholas Smyth ’09

Courses in Sydney Law School’s new J.D. curriculum are also at a level appropriate for HLS students. Most J.D. courses meet for three hours per week, and a full-time course load generally consists of four courses, or 24 Sydney Law School credits, per semester.

Sydney Law School also offers postgraduate-level courses in specialized areas. Some postgraduate courses are taught as semester-length courses; others are taught intensively in four or five sessions. If space is available and with special permission from the course convenor, HLS students may be able to include one or two postgraduate course(s) in their study plan, or enroll in one or two intensive postgraduate courses in addition to their semester-long coursework. A separate application form needs to be completed for each postgraduate unit, and Sydney Law recommends that students initiate this approval process prior to their arrival in Sydney.

Grading at Sydney Law is on a scale of 0-100, with 50-64 signifying Pass, 65-74 Credit, 75-84 Distinction, and 85-100 High Distinction.

Course loads will vary from student to student. HLS students may receive a total of 10 to 12 ungraded classroom credits in relation to work done through the semester abroad program. Please see Academic Requirements for more information about course requirements and how semester abroad credits are calculated.

The University of Sydney is registered on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (“CRICOS”) with the number 00026A.

Academic Calendar

The academic year at Sydney Law is divided into two semesters. First semester runs from March through June. Second semester runs from late July through November. For specific dates, see Sydney’s current academic calendars.

Application Process

Students interested in the Sydney Law School exchange program should follow the Semester Abroad application process described on the Semester Abroad Eligibility and Application page.

Students approved by the HLS Study Abroad Committee must also complete an online application process; ILS will provide more information as needed.

There is no application fee for HLS students.

The exchange agreement stipulates that Sydney Law reserve at least one spot for an HLS J.D. student each year. HLS may recommend more than one candidate but Sydney will make the ultimate selection of students.


The University also offers on-campus housing in residential colleges and other University-owned housing; however, the on-campus residential colleges usually request that students sign a lease for Sydney’s full academic year (February to November). The University does not have a central housing service, so students must apply directly to their preferred on-campus residences. Please see the Sydney accommodations webpage for more information. Other housing resources are urbanest Cleveland Street and the Sydney University Village (SUV), which are affiliated with the university and may be able to take students for one semester.

Students who wish to live off-campus are encouraged to arrive at least two to three weeks before the semester begins, both for orientation and to allow enough time to find housing. Once in Sydney, you may meet with Accommodation Officers who will advise and assist with off-campus housing options and details. Please see the off-campus accommodations webpage for more information. Past program participants have also recommended websites like for local housing options.

Contact Information

For further information, please contact Sara Zucker at (617) 495-9030 / or Andre Barbic at (617) 496-8732 /

HLS students with questions about Sydney Law School may also contact Natasha de Zilva, Team Leader, Professional Law Programs, at