Associate Professor Kelley Burton | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Associate Professor Kelley Burton

PhD S.Qld., LLM Qld.UT, GradDipLegalPrac Qld.UT, BBus(Accy)(with Distinction)/LLB(Hons) Qld.UT, Admitted to the legal profession as a lawyer in the Supreme Court of Queensland in 2004

  • Associate Professor in Law
  • Discipline Lead, Law
  • School of Law and Society
+61 7 5456 5259
Office location
Sunshine Coast
Kelley Burton

Associate Professor Kelley Burton is a lawyer who joined the University of the Sunshine Coast in 2015 and previously worked as an academic for the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Faculty of Law (2000–2014). At an institutional level, Kelley has previously served on decision-making bodies including the USC Academic Board and USC Learning and Teaching Committee. At a national level within the discipline of law, Kelley is the Co-Convenor for the Legal Education Associate Deans (LEAD) Network, which promotes good practice and collaborative approaches amongst leaders in learning and teaching from all Australian law schools. Further, Kelley serves on the Editorial Committee for the Legal Education Review, which is the leading Australian journal on legal education. More broadly in higher education nationally and internationally, Kelley is a Senior Fellow for the Higher Education Academy, Committee Member for the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia Conference and an assessor for the Australian Awards for University Teaching (AAUT) Citations for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning.

Kelley has been awarded with approximately 20 awards in learning and teaching including a prestigious 2017 $10,000 AAUT Citation for leadership in designing innovative resources that demonstrate a strong command of criminal law education and fulfil the future needs of budding lawyers. Other notable awards include a 2016 USC Advancing Quality Teaching Award; One of the Top 10 Most Downloaded Journal Articles on the 10 Year Anniversary of the Journal of Learning Design in 2015; and 2014 CCH-Australasian Law Teachers Association Best Legal Education Conference Paper.

Kelley has more than 85 publications pertaining to legal education and criminal law including peer reviewed journal articles; book chapters; international and national conference papers; submissions to law reform commissions; books; and book reviews. Her research has been cited by the Australian Law Reform Commission and supported by the Australian Institute of Criminology. Kelley's research has contributed to law reform, particularly in Queensland, for example, amendments to double jeopardy and the introduction of new criminal offences for making and distributing visual recordings in breach of privacy.

Kelley is the author of three leading books on criminal law in Queensland and Western Australia, which have been designed to provide a thorough grounding on the fundamental principles of criminal law; provide criminal law students with instant and worthwhile feedback on how to apply the criminal law to a problem-based questions; encourage critical thinking; and drive curiosity about how the criminal law could be continuously improved. The citations of the books are:

  • Kelley Burton, Thomas Crofts and Stella Tarrant, Principles of Criminal Law in Queensland and Western Australia (Thomson Reuters, 3nd ed, 2020).
  • Kelley Burton, LexisNexis Questions and Answers: Criminal Law in Queensland and Western Australia (LexisNexis Butterworths, 2nd ed, 2015).
  • Thomas Crofts, Kelley Burton, Ross Martin, Toby Nisbet and Stella Tarrant, The Criminal Codes: Commentary and Materials (Thomson Reuters, 7th ed, 2018).

More than 20,000 new copies of Kelley's books have been sold to date, with further dissemination via the large marketing in second-hand student texts, and their inclusion in library collections.

In 2009, Kelley was the first student to complete a PhD in Law at the University of Southern Queensland. Her PhD thesis is entitled 'A Principled Approach to Criminalisation: When Should Making and/or Distributing Visual Recordings be Criminalised?'. This substantial piece of work takes a principled approach to examining the criminalisation of making and/or distributing visual recordings by exploring constructs of privacy, harm, morality, culpability, consent, punishment, social welfare and individual autonomy. This topic is still relevant more than a decade later due to the proliferation of digital recordings, widespread use of social media, privacy concerns and shifts in modern culture. Kelley developed an elective course based on her leading edge PhD research and taught this as a Visiting Professor for the University of Western Ontario in Canada.

Before becoming a full-time, ongoing academic, Kelley worked for the Australian Taxation Office, where she specialised in taxation law and privacy laws. She also worked in private practice for large and small law firms; drafted wills and enduring powers of attorney for the Queensland Public Trust Office; and assisted a barrister-at-law by conducting research and preparing for trial.


Kelley has won approximately 20 awards for learning and teaching. The three most recent awards are:

  • 2017 Australian Award for University Teaching Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning
  • 2016 USC Advancing Quality Teaching Award
  • 2015 One of the Top 10 Most Downloaded Journal Articles on the 10 Year Anniversary of the Journal of Learning Design2014 CCH-ALTA Best Legal Education Conference Paper
  • 2014 CCH-Australasian Law Teachers Association Best Legal Education Conference Paper

Potential research projects for HDR and Honours students

  • Criminalisation
  • Image-based abuse
  • Domestic violence
  • Sexual violence
  • Vicarious trauma
  • Evidence
  • Legal education

Research areas

  • criminalisation
  • criminal law reform
  • evidence
  • legal education
  • authentic assessment
  • assessing reflective practice
  • criterion-referenced assessment
  • assessing critical thinking, problem solving and communication skills

Teaching areas

  • Criminal Law and Procedure
  • Evidence

Associate Professor Kelley Burton’s specialist areas of knowledge include criminal law, evidence and legal education.

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