LAW 7025 - Dissertation (PG)

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2021

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code LAW 7025
    Course Dissertation (PG)
    Coordinating Unit Adelaide Law School
    Term Semester 2
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 6
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange N
    Prerequisites Must have completed at least 9 units of PG Law courses including LAW 7187
    Quota Students who apply to write a research dissertation will be selected on the basis of their academic records, and where the School can provide appropriate supervision for the research topic proposed.
    Assessment 12000 - 15000 word essay
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Associate Professor Beth Nosworthy

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    Upon completion of this course is students will be able to:
    1.  Analyse the foundational principles of their chosen thesis topic in law, undertake legal research with primary and secondary materials, and evaluate legal information.
    2.  Apply the law to complex issues, and critique the operation of the law from a policy perspective, individually.
    3.  Structure and sustain concise and cohesive written arguments for a legal audience.
    4.  Conduct and analyse legal research, and write, individually.
    5.  Analyse the impact of law from policy perspectives, and in the context of social and cultural diversity.
    6.  Reflect on their abilities to effectively undertake individual work.

    The course requires students to work alone with minimal supervision. It is  an objective of the course to assist students to develop the organisational skills to work alone on a major research project.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    This is a research dissertation on a topic to be agreed with the co-ordinator and supervisor, therefore there are no required or recommended resources.
    Recommended Resources
    Recommended Text:

    Students should ensure they have access to the Australian Guide to Legal Citation (4th Ed, 2018), either in hard copy or online.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes

    The course has no designated classes. Students hold individual discussions with the Dissertation Co-ordinator when developing their research proposal, and thereafter will meet and communicate to discuss the work with their allocated supervisor.

    There will be a general MyUni course page, given the individual nature of the topics. Students should expect communication through student email and announcements on MyUni.

    There are no scheduled learning activities. It is expected that the supervisor and student will initially agree a provisional timetable for submission of drafts.

    ENTRY INTO THE COURSE - Candidates wishing to enrol in Dissertation PG should submit to the Dissertation Coordinator an outline of their proposed dissertationby the deadline advised by the Adelaide Law School, using the prescribed online form. The outline should be about one to two A4 pages in length and provide a brief synopsis of the scope and purpose of the proposed dissertation. This will be assessed, along with the student's GPA and past achievements as demonstrated by their unofficial transcript, including their performance in the Advanced Legal Research and Writing course, in order to determine if the student has the requisite base level of knowledge required to complete a large, individual research task to a high standard. Successful candidates will be enrolled. 

    APPROVAL OF TOPIC - Upon successful application, the Dissertation Coordination can assist students with locating an appropriate supervisor. Please note that a proposed topic can only be approved if appropriate supervision is available in the semester in which the student wishes to undertake this subject.


    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    As this is a six-unit course, students are expected to spend up to 24 hours a week during term time in the preparation of their dissertation.
    Learning Activities Summary

    The process of writing and supervising each dissertation is unique. The process is incapable of being precisely regulated. However, for the removal of uncertainty, it is appropriate that the relationship of candidate and supervisor should be governed by a statement of the minimum expectations and responsibilities of each party in academic terms. Both candidate and supervisor are encouraged to enter into a dynamic academic process which maximises contact for critical discussion and pastoral concern.

    The Supervisor

    The supervisor’s role is facilitative and advisory. The supervisor must recognise that the candidate is involved in a process, namely the writing of an extensive piece of legal research of which the candidate has little or no previous experience. Accordingly, it is the supervisor’s role to respond to the candidate’s requests for reasonable assistance and to provide an encouraging environment for the critical evaluation of the candidate’s progress. But the supervisor’s role is facilitative and advisory only. In particular, it is not the supervisor’s role to provide the candidate with a dissertation topic (although the supervisor may, and indeed generally will, offer advice in this regard). While it is not the supervisor’s role to seek out the candidate to check upon progress, it is advisable for supervisors to email a candidate who fails to attend their regularly scheduled meeting. If there is no response within a reasonable time the Dissertation Co-ordinator should be notified.

    The particular responsibilities of the supervisor are:

    1. upon being informed of the identity of his/her candidate, to be available to meet the candidate as soon as possible and in any event not later than two weeks from the advice being given.
    2. at this initial meeting or soon thereafter, to inform the candidate:
      • as to the existence of these guidelines and to discuss the same so that respective rules are fully understood and a method of proceeding may be established;
      • as to the supervisor’s areas of legal expertise so that the candidate may make an informed choice as to how far any dissertation topic selected may fall within the content of that expertise.
    3. at this initial meeting or soon thereafter, to comment critically upon the candidate’s selection of a dissertation topic leading to the supervisor’s approval thereof, in the light of any supervision, research, structural or presentation difficulties which in the supervisor’s opinion may emerge.
    4. to be available to meet the candidate for a substantial discussion at least once a fortnight and to invite the candidate to discuss the regularity and need for meetings.
    5. to assist the candidate in making contact with outside agencies which may further the candidate’s research or to obtain research materials.
    6. to advise the candidate that the presentation of timely and sufficient drafts of the dissertation may enable problems to be detected at an early stage.
    7. to comment promptly and critically, whether orally or in writing, upon (a) the development of the themes, arguments and structure of drafts of the dissertation and (b) the style and presentation of these drafts and the observance of the scholarly conventions of writing.
    8. to comment promptly and critically in the same manner upon the final draft.

    The Candidate

    The candidate’s role is to produce the dissertation. The candidate has primary responsibility for the progress of the dissertation and the final decision upon any academic matter regarding the content of the dissertation rests with the candidate. To this end, the particular responsibilities of the candidate are:

    1. upon being informed of the identity of his/her supervisor, to make contact with the supervisor as soon as possible and in any event no later than two weeks from the being informed of the allocation of a supervisor.
    2. at this initial meeting or soon thereafter, to select his/her dissertation topic and to inform his/her supervisor of that topic for critical comment leading to approval thereof. Any significant variation of the topic after approval must be likewise discussed with the supervisor and approved by the Dissertation Co-ordinator.
    3. to make contact with the supervisor to arrange meetings.
    4. to conduct research on the topic.
    5. to discuss the need for drafts of the dissertation with the supervisor and to prepare sufficient and timely drafts for critical comment.
    6. to develop the themes, arguments and structure of the dissertation and to avoid plagiarism by acknowledging sources of information and argument and to present the dissertation in a readable style observing the scholarly conventions of writing. It is anticipated that the candidate will demonstrate an ability to carry out independent research, and to analyse and assess the material produced by that research and to express clearly and effectively the conclusions to be drawn from that analysis and assessment.
    7. to inform the supervisor of all significant matters affecting the progress of the dissertation and to discuss the academic impact of the same.
    8. to prepare a final draft of the dissertation for critical comment not less than fourteen days before the due date of submission or any extension granted.
    9. to prepare the final draft for submission and assessment by the appointed examiner.


    These guidelines govern the relationship of candidate and supervisor only. In any case of difficulty or disagreement, candidates and supervisors are encouraged to discuss matters with the Dissertation Co-ordinator. In the event of the need for a change of supervisor during the production of the dissertation, the Dissertation Co-ordinator will arrange such meetings as are necessary to ensure a smooth transition between supervisors and candidate.

    Specific Course Requirements

    The only assessment component in this course is the written dissertation. After submission, the dissertation will be marked by an examiner appointed for this task.

    This aspect of the assessment will provide students with feedback regarding their research, written communication and critical thinking skills.

  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment item % of final mark Due date Group or individual assessment Length Redeemable Learning outcomes

    100% 2:00pm Friday Week 12 Individual 12,000-15,000 words No 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
    Assessment Detail

    Length of Dissertation

    The maximum word limit for the dissertation is between 12,000 and 15,000 words (including footnotes).

    The word limit for the dissertation is strictly enforced. In presenting their dissertation candidates are required to incorporate a signed statement as to the length of their dissertation (main text and substantive footnotes are to be included in word length, while heading, bibliography, case list, list of contents, required declarations etc are excluded).

    A substantive footnote is any footnote which includes sentences (full or partial), whether alongside or without a citation, but does not include the standard footnote references as set out in the AGLC in Chapters 1.2 'Introductory Signals for Citations', 1.3 'Sources Referring to Other Sources' and 1.4 'Subsequent References'.

    If a candidate fails to conform to the word limit they will be penalised in line with the Law Postgraduate Assessment Policy.


    Citations and footnotes should follow the practice used by the Australian Guide to Legal Citation. A copy of the Australian Guide to Legal Citation is available from the reserve desk in the Law library. It is also available for free in PDF on the internet from: MULR AGLC or can be purchased for relatively small cost.
    If a candidate’s dissertation does not conform to the style set out in these guidelines the candidate will be required to rewrite and resubmit in the style designated in these guidelines.


    The dissertation must be presented in the following format:

    • The dissertation must be written in prose style (using complete sentences), adhere to grammatical rules and use correct spelling.
    • It should be printed on A4 paper. The margins on the left and right hand side of the page should be approximately 2.5cm.
    • Any one of the following fonts is acceptable: Arial, Calibri, Times New Roman, or Palatino.
    • The font size for the main text must be at least 12 pt.
    • The font size for footnotes must be at least 10pt.
    • The main body of the text should be double spaced.
    • For general rules relating to line spacing for quotations follow the Australian Guide to Legal Citation.
    • Footnotes may be single spaced.
    • Pages should be numbered.
    • The dissertation must include a table of contents and a bibliography.
    • Bibliographies should also follow the practice used by the Australian Guide to Legal Citation.

    The dissertation should have incorporated in it a signed statement to the effect that to the best of the candidate's knowledge and belief the dissertation contains no material previously published or written by another person except when due reference is made in the text of the dissertation, together with an acknowledgment of any help given or work carried out by another person or organisation (see policy on Academic Integrity below). There should also be included a signed statement as to the word length of the dissertation (see above).

    Students should submit two (2) printed copies of their Dissertation. Students can elect to bind one of the two hard copies (comb, plastic, spiral, wire or wire-o bound types are appropriate) but this is not required. Students should factor the necessary time for binding into the completion of their thesis.

    The Dissertation must also be submitted electronically on MyUni.

    Due Date

    Dissertations must be completed and submitted by 2:00pm Friday Week 12.

    Submissions to the course coordinator for an extension of time should be based only upon special or unforeseen personal or research circumstances.  As the dissertation must be engaged with, researched and written over a period of the semester, significant circumstances will be required for an extension to be granted. Please consider the Policy and make your application by email to the Dissertation Coordinator.

    Submission of Dissertation

    Dissertations must be submitted by the due date in hard copy to the Law School Office and in electronic form to Turnitin (link available on MyUni).

    Be sure to leave plenty of time to submit electronically, and get your hard copy in by the deadline.

    The thesis supervisor and an independent examiner will mark the thesis. Having reached a mark independently, the supervisor and independent examiner will agree a final mark between them. If the supervisor and independent examiner cannot agree on a final mark, a further examiner will be appointed, and a majority position reached.

    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

    Finality of Assessment Grades

    Students are advised that Course Coordinators will not enter into negotiations of any kind with any student regarding changes to their grades. It is irrelevant, in any given circumstance, that only a minimal number of additional marks are required to inflate a student’s grade for any individual assessment item or course as a whole. Pursuant to the University’s Assessment for Coursework Programs Policyand the Adelaide Law School Assessment Policies and Procedures, grades may only be varied through the appropriate channels for academic review (such as an official re-mark).

    In accordance with the University’s Assessment for Coursework Programs Policy, course coordinators ‘ensure that appropriate marking guidelines and cross-marking moderation processes across markers are in place’ in each course. Procedures adopted by Adelaide Law School to ensure consistency of marking in courses with multiple markers include:
    • assurance of the qualifications of markers, and their knowledge of the content covered in each course;
    • detailed marking guidelines and assessment rubrics to assist in the marking of items of assessment;
    • sharing of example marked assessments at various grade bands across markers;
    • reviewing of selected marked assessments from each marker by the course coordinator;
    • comparison of the marks and their distribution across markers;
    • automatic double-marking of all interim assessment receiving a fail grade, and of final assessments where a student’s overall result is a fail grade;
    • the availability of re-marking of assessments in accordance with Adelaide Law School’s Assessment Policies and Procedures.

    Approval of Results by Board of Examiners
    Students are reminded that all assessment results are subject to approval (and possible moderation/change) by the Law School’s Board of Examiners. Assessment results at the University are not scaled. Under the Assessment for Coursework Programs Policy, students are assessed ‘by reference to their performance against pre-determined criteria and standards … and not by ranking against the performance of the student cohort in the course’. However, under that same policy, the Board of Examiners (as the relevant Assessment Review Committee for courses at Adelaide Law School) is required to ‘ensure comparability of standards and consistency’ in assessment. On occasions, the Board of Examiners will form the view that some moderation is required to ensure the comparability of standards and consistency across courses and years, and accordingly provide fairness to all law students. All assessment results are therefore subject to approval (and possible change) until confirmed by the Board of Examiners and posted on Access Adelaide at the end of each semester.
  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

    Student feedback
    The course is constantly being updated and revised to reflect the evolution of the law, to respond to student feedback, and to engage with the latest teaching practices. Student feedback is collected each time the course is run, including through SELT reports. Previous SELT reports, and staff feedback on them, are posted on the course MyUni site for students to view and consider.
  • Student Support
    The University Writing Centre provides academic learning and language development services and resources for local, international, undergraduate and postgraduate coursework students enrolled at the University of Adelaide.

    The centre offers practical advice and strategies for students to master reading, writing, note-taking, time management, oral presentation skills, referencing techniques and exam preparation for success at university through seminars, workshops and individual consultations.

    Lex Salus Program
    Lex Salus (law and wellbeing) is an initiative of the Adelaide Law School aimed at destigmatising mental health issues; promoting physical, mental and emotional wellness; building a strong community of staff and students; and celebrating diversity within the school. It also seeks to promote wellness within the legal profession, through the involvement of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of South Australia, the Honourable Chris Kourakis, as the official Patron of the program.

    Students can participate in the Lex Salus program by attending barbecue lunches, pancake breakfasts, knitting and crochet circles, seminars, guest speakers, conferences and other activities. Our Facebook page, website and regular all-student emails promote upcoming events, and have tips and information on wellness.

    Our Lex Salus YouTube channel also includes videos on topics like managing stress, and interviews with LGBTQ lawyers and their supporters which celebrate diversity and individuality. Students who commit to 10 hours of volunteering with Lex Salus in one year can have their service recognised on their academic transcript and through a thank you morning tea with the Chief Justice and law school staff.

    Student Life Counselling Support
    The University’s Student Life Counselling Support service provides free and confidential service to all enrolled students. We encourage you to contact the Student Life Counselling Support service on 8313 5663 to make an appointment to deal with any issues that may be affecting your study and life.
  • Policies & Guidelines

    This section contains links to relevant assessment-related policies and guidelines - all university policies.

    Academic Integrity
    All students must be familiar with the University’s Academic Integrity Policy. Academic Misconduct is a serious matter and is treated as such by the Law School and the University. Academic Misconduct (which goes beyond plagiarism) can be a ground for a refusal by the Supreme Court of South Australia to admit a person to practice as a legal practitioner in South Australia. Academic Integrity is an essential aspect of ethical and honest behaviour, which is central to the practice of the law and an understanding of what it is to be a lawyer.
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.