Graduate Diploma in Sports Law
- CRICOS Code: 075318B
What will I study?
Students must complete four subjects from the prescribed list.
Students who do not have a law degree from a common law jurisdiction or any prior legal studies are also expected to complete the two-day preliminary subject Australian Legal Process and Legal Institutions.
Subject timing and format
The Melbourne Law Masters program has been designed around the busy schedules of working professionals. Subjects are offered from February to December each year.
Most subjects are taught intensively, giving you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the subject content. Intensive subjects are typically taught over five days, either from Monday–Friday or Wednesday–Tuesday, excluding the weekend. This intensive format enables students from interstate or overseas to fly to Melbourne to attend class. Semester-length subjects are generally taught for two hours in the evening each week during the semester.
Subjects are taught in an interactive seminar style and class sizes normally range from 20 to 30 students.
As a student, you will need to enrol in at least one subject per semester and will have a maximum of two years to complete the course, including any leave of absence.
Sample course plan
View some sample course plans to help you select subjects that will meet the requirements for this diploma.
Sample course plan - 6 months full time
Sample course plan - 1 year part time
Explore this course
Explore the subjects you could choose as part of this diploma.
- Corruption in International Sport12.5
Corruption in International Sport
Protecting the integrity of sport from doping and match-fixing has become a high profile cause, especially with growing concern over links to illegal gambling, money laundering (estimated at US$130 billion through sports betting) and organised crime. Yet perhaps an even greater threat to the integrity and reputation of sport is to be found away from the fields of play. Corruption in the board rooms and administrative offices of the bodies charged with bringing leadership and good governance to world sport threatens to undermine the willingness of national governments, broadcasters and sponsors to provide essential support and serves to disillusion athletes and fans.
Corruption in International Sport explores the murky realm of ‘institutional or off-field corruption’. By comparison with anti-doping and anti-match fixing, off-field corruption has been lightly regulated and controlled. This subject will investigate the major scandals and the legal and regulatory responses of both international sports bodies and national governmental authorities. With an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the international legal order applying to corruption in sport, students will be in a position to contribute to debate and regulatory development concerning this important issue.
The lecturers share extensive knowledge in sports integrity and will bring international and national perspectives to the subject matter.
Principal topics include:
- Nature and incidence of corruption in international sport with particular attention to the allocation of event hosting rights, commercial dealings, governance and links between doping, match-fixing and sports betting
- The role and nature of international and national laws against bribery and corruption including jurisdictional issues and the realtionship between such laws
- Anti-corruption standards and measures in international sports bodies
- Regulatory measures of sports bodies to address corruption in the awarding of event hosting and other commercial rights
- Ethical standards in the governance of sports bodies including protocols for transparency
- The mechanisms of investigation and prosecution of corrupt activity including information-sharing between sports and relevant government authorities
- The role of independent, private monitoring agencies and pressure groups such as the news media and Transparency International.
- International Sports Employment Law12.5
International Sports Employment Law
‘Player contracts’ is often the first thought that comes to mind when sports law is mentioned, but it is the framework of labour market rules concerning the likes of transfers, drafts and salary caps that constitutes one of the most engaging and unique aspects of the sports law landscape. The international nature of sport is reflected in this subject’s exploration of employment, labour market rules and the role of player associations and collective bargaining in major sports across three continents. This popular subject is for anyone interested in the representation of athletes and their employers. Between them the lecturers muster a vast knowledge and practical experience in this important field.
This subject will examine sports employment law issues internationally, particularly in Australasia, Europe and the United States. Attention will be paid to the major professional team sports in these different legal jurisdictions and the legal needs of key stakeholders. A prominent theme will be the unusual aspects of the sports labour market and industrial relations process.
Principal topics include:
- Commercial environment of the sports labour market
- General principles of employment law in sports
- Labour market controls in professional team sports and the role of competition law in Australasia, Europe and the United States
- Emergence and role of player associations
- Collective bargaining agreements
- The player/agent legal relationship and the regulation of agents
- Player marketing rights
- Selected issues in employment law, including selection, disciplinary measures, disability and workers’ compensation, termination and grievance procedures.
- Sports and Competition Law12.5
Sports and Competition Law
Commercialised sports in the developed world constitute a multi-billion-dollar industry raising unique issues under competition law. Courts around the world have recognised that clubs that are commercial rivals necessarily need to collaborate in some ways for their sporting competitions to serve the public. Outside of North America, commercialised sports competitions form part of an integrated system of sports, typically under the supervision of a single national governing board. This too raises important questions about the use or abuse of a commercially-dominant position.
The overall structure of sporting competitions is thus potentially subject to judicial challenge under competition law statutes around the world. Specific agreements attributed to multiple parties, or to a single entity with a dominant position, are also subject to competition law challenges by governments, affected stakeholders or consumers.
The lecturer is an international leader in the field of the application of competition law to sports and has authored works dealing with this issue in developed economies, including Australia and New Zealand.
This subject considers the basic principles of competition law statutes applicable in North America, Europe and Australia/New Zealand, as well as relevant principles of the common law of restraint of trade. It then applies these principles in exploring a number of cutting-edge issues in the sports industry, including:
- The formation and structure of sports leagues
- Restrictive labour market practices (salary caps, drafts, limits on free mobility)
- Collective agreements regarding broadcasting, internet commerce, sponsorship, merchandise, intellectual property licensing etc.
- Competitive effects of league or federation rules regarding finances and ownership
- Permissible and impermissible responses to creation of rival competitions.
Application of competition law precedents covers several recurring questions, including the availability of private remedies, market definition and the relevance of non-commercial purposes in justifying conduct that might be clearly unlawful in non-sports industries.
Although the subject assumes no prior knowledge of competition law, other than a review of foundational principles underlying various competition statutes, it offers students with competition law background an opportunity to apply their knowledge to a unique and intellectually challenging setting.
- Sports Dispute Resolution12.5
Sports Dispute Resolution
The resolution of sports disputes has become more formalised and complex over the past two decades, especially with the emergence of international bodies such as the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The importance of understanding the legal principles, processes and skills of sports dispute resolution has never been greater. The lecturers bring to this subject an impressive knowledge and experience in the theoretical and practical aspects of sports dispute resolution at national and international levels.
Principal topics include:
- The legal principles (substantive and procedural) that comprise the ‘ius ludorum’ (law of games)
- Types of sport resolution procedures (domestic and international)
- Techniques for effective advocacy and decision-making in sports dispute resolution.
- Sports Industry and the Law12.5
Sports Industry and the Law
Sport is both an industry of the modern age and a traditional activity that reaches to the core of the social fabric. Law and sport intersect in many and varied ways, some of which challenge established notions of thinking about law. Sports Industry and the Law is the flagship subject of the sports law program, surveying many areas of legal controversy in sport, with particular emphasis on the link between the commercialisation of sport and the emergence of sports law. This subject is the best place to start for students embarking on a program of sports law studies and, for the student with wider interests, the ideal subject through which to sample sports law.
The aim of this subject is to provide an account of how the law influences the operation, administration and playing of modern sports. Although the subject focuses on legal doctrine, it will bear in mind sport’s historical, cultural, social and economic context, including the drama and colour of major sporting events and leading personalities. And although it is inevitably very much concerned with elite professional sports, it is not dominated by them and seeks to cover the widest possible range of sports, professional and amateur.
Initially, the subject addresses practical issues such as the structures of national and international sport, and examines the evolution of the body of law known sometimes as “sports law” or lex sportiva. Thereafter, three main themes are identified: regulatory, participatory, and financial aspects of modern sport. The regulatory theme is dealt with in lectures that consider the manner in which decisions of sports governing bodies may be challenged in the ordinary courts and the development of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms in sport. The participatory theme includes the legal regulation of doping and criminal violence in sport, as well as the broader topic of tortious liability for sporting injuries. The financial theme, reflecting the enhanced commercialisation of sport at all levels, is developed in lectures concerning issues in applied contract and employment law for players and legal matters surrounding the organisation of major sports events.
In sum, the subject is designed to cover fundamental and topical areas of sports law:
- Sports law in general
- Sports bodies and the courts
- Arbitration in sport
- Civil liability
- The commodification of modern sport
- The likely future of sports law.
- Sports Marketing and Media Law12.5
Sports Marketing and Media Law
Sponsorship announcements and media rights deals in sport can attract publicity like gold medals. The ingenuity of an ambush marketer may rival the game plan for an upset victory. This subject surveys the legal underpinnings of modern sports marketing and the role of the media, especially the new media, from the perspectives of key stakeholders: sports bodies, athletes, sponsors, the media and venue owners. Conflict between rights holders and those who claim commercial free speech at the fringe of official rights is analysed. This subject covers how specific new laws and increasingly intricate contractual allocation of rights aim to contain the ambusher. It will be of interest to lawyers, sports, marketing and media executives, and player agents. One lecturer is a barrister who has studied and written in the area, and the other is a lawyer who has served as in-house counsel for a public broadcaster for many years.
This subject considers the legal aspects of sports marketing and associated media in Australia. Attention is paid to the different legal needs of key stakeholders in sport. It involves assessing the impact on the legal environment of sports marketing and media rights in an era of increased commercialism and professionalism in sport, and of significant change in the technology of communication and marketing.
Principal topics include:
- The commercial environment of sports marketing
- Intellectual property and related legal principles as they apply to sports marketing: passing-off, copyright, designs, misleading or deceptive conduct, trade marks, trade names and internet domain names
- Laws promoting competition as they apply to sports marketing and the sale of media rights: restraint of trade at common law and restrictive trade practices under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth)
- Olympic marketing arrangements and protection of Olympic insignia
- Athlete marketing rights, including personality rights, misleading or deceptive conduct and defamation
- Event, facility and organisation marketing, including rights to a spectacle
- Television and electronic media, including broadcast agreements, anti-siphoning laws, virtual advertising and regulation of alcoholic beverage advertising
- Regulation of tobacco advertising
- Principles of sponsorship agreements
- eSports and the Law12.5
eSports and the Law
eSports refers to competitive video gaming, often in the form of professional events (league competitions, tournaments, championships or battle/match) and typically between sponsored gamers or teams. In the past decade, eSports’s business model has developed rapidly from one initially based on individual game publishers to the contemporary multi-stakeholder industry that is projected to have revenues of Aus$2 billion in 2022 and a fan base on over a 1 billion in the same year. eSports leagues and franchises are now aligned with leading global sports entities such as the NBA and FIFA and it is in line to be included in future Olympic Games. This rapid growth and investment from traditional sports has not always been accompanied by adequate governance structures or legal protections for investors, sponsors or players. Being the first of its kind and delivered by experts in the industry and in sports law, the subject reviews the legal challenges and opportunities ahead for eSports as an innovative and important revenue stream of the sports industry domestically and abroad.
This subject provides a critical examination of the development and current scope of eSports as an industry and with respect to its current and future governance and legal obligations both domestically and globally as informed by a comparative approach.
Principal topics include:
- An introduction to the eSports ecosystem
- Stakeholder overview: publishers; event organisers; league operators; teams and organisations; players; talent and content creators; fans
- Governing control in eSports: software IP and license agreements
- eSports mega events
- Regulating the eSports scene; gambling and integrity; player rights and unionisation; diversity and inclusion; pathways into pro gaming.
- Sports Integrity and Investigations12.5
Sports Integrity and Investigations
Sport is renowned for embodying some of the highest and most inspiring of human ideals. Few other pursuits activate the passion with which sport is played and followed. For many people, sport delivers release from the shady aspects of life. This shining image is threatened by corrupt practices around doping, match-fixing and other activities; some with links to illegal gambling and organised crime. Also, the holding of public inquiries into questionable incidents and behaviour occurring in the context of sport can have an adverse impact.
Sport bodies and governments around the world are taking legal and regulatory steps to counter these threats. This subject will explore the new frontier of sports law, from criminal laws to mandatory information sharing and monitoring arrangements, and onto the establishment and processes of inquiries. With an understanding of the international legal order around ‘integrity’ and sports investigations, students will be well-placed to contribute to this emerging field both practically and academically.
Between them, the lecturers have extensive knowledge and industry experience in sports law, anti-doping, investigations and governance.
Principal topics include at both national and international levels:
- Nature and meaning of integrity in sports competition and governance including historical and empirical perspectives
- The criminalisation of the manipulation of sporting outcomes
- The legal regulation of gambling on sport and its relationship to integrity
- Regulatory measures of sports bodies to address manipulation of sporting outcomes
- Doping and the criminal law
- The structure and role of investigative and enforcement bodies such as ethics commissions and integrity units
- The establishment and conduct of inquiries into sports activities and bodies
- Powers of investigation and information-sharing of sports bodies and relevant government authorities with particular emphasis on doping and the manipulation of sporting outcomes.
- Sports Law: Entities and Governance12.5
Sports Law: Entities and Governance
This century has witnessed much controversy concerning the governance of sport. Good governance and legal structures are seen by many astute observers as key elements in sporting success. From grassroots to the highest echelons, the governance of sport is a central practical issue and fascinating field of study. The law has struggled to meet the needs of community groups looking for effective but simple structures and governance models to propel sports participation and social connection, while successful professional sports leagues have searched for models that respond to their peculiar combination of sporting competition and economic cooperation. In the face of intensifying legal and public scrutiny, sports governing entities and regulators strive to implement good governance principles, structures and practices at the local, national and international levels of sport. This subject explores the legal aspects of these issues.
The lecturers bring an unrivalled combination of knowledge and experience in this area, encompassing leadership of major sports organisations, corporate and sports law practice, and published research on the business models of clubs, leagues and related sports law issues.
Principal topics include:
- Overview of the organisational structures of Australian and international sport, encompassing clubs, regional and national governing bodies, professional leagues and tours, government authorities, special-interest groups, international federations and Olympic and Commonwealth Games organisations
- Legal status of sports entities, including the legal personality and capacity of unincorporated clubs, incorporated associations and companies limited by guarantee, the meaning and consequences of trading activity and non-profit status and taxation
- Legal regulation and corporate governance of sports entities, including the role and obligations of directors, officers and committee members of sports entities
- The policy, regulatory and funding roles of the Australian Sports Commission
- The legal and governance structures, and underlying economic principles, of professional sports leagues and other competitions
- Sports entities and the legal process, including the sources and limits of legal authority over members, jurisdiction of domestic courts over international federations, leagues and tours, arbitration agreements and ouster of jurisdiction
- Stakeholder rights and interests, incorporating a broad legal and policy analysis of issues of accountability, transparency and due process in the relationships between sports entities at various levels, government, financial supporters, elite and non-elite participants and fans.
- Sports Medical and Anti-Doping Law12.5
Sports Medical and Anti-Doping Law
With attention often focused on the legal side of commercial dealings and related disputes in sport, the law‘s role regarding the basic building block of sport – the human body – can be overlooked. Employing an interdisciplinary approach, this subject will explore the legal and ethical aspects of the medical treatment of elite athletes and the important field of anti-doping. Medico-legal approaches to past and present controversies, including participation of disabled and pregnant athletes, concussion, infectious diseases and single-sex sports will be investigated in case studies sure to interest and challenge.
This subject is for medical professionals working in sport and for sports administrators and legal counsel responsible for day-to-day operational issues, especially anti-doping. The lecturers are two internationally eminent sports medicine practitioners and a legal expert in the field.
This subject considers selected topics from the medico-legal aspects of sports and anti-doping. The primary focus will be upon analysing the legal relationship between the sports medicine professional and the athlete-patient, especially in the context of team sports, where responsibilities are divided between athlete and team. It will incorporate selective study of a number of legal disciplines, including negligence, confidentiality, anti-discrimination law and anti-doping law.
Principal topics include:
- Responsibility for injury in the practice of sports medicine
- Sports participation with injury or disability
- Working with other health professionals in the ‘sports medicine team‘
- Infectious diseases in sport
- Performance-enhancing drugs with an emphasis on the medico/legal interface
- Illicit drugs
- The pregnant athlete
- Sex status of sports participants.