LAW 1501 - Foundations of Law

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2017

This course provides a foundation in the core legal skills of case reading and analysis, legal research, statutory interpretation and problem solving. It also introduces students to basic legal philosophy, and to some of the main critical theories of law.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code LAW 1501
    Course Foundations of Law
    Coordinating Unit Adelaide Law School
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate Law (LLB)
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 3 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Incompatible LAW 1001
    Restrictions Available to LLB students only
    Course Description This course provides a foundation in the core legal skills of case reading and analysis, legal research, statutory interpretation and problem solving. It also introduces students to basic legal philosophy, and to some of the main critical theories of law.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Associate Professor Matthew Stubbs

    Course Coordinator: Dr Karen Fairweather


    Associate Professor Matthew Stubbs
    Dr Manuel Solis
    Dr Francesco de Zwart
    Christopher Davis

    Seminar Leaders: Details will be advised on MyUni.

    Contact details for consultation will be advised on MyUni.
    Course Timetable

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

    This course will be taught intensely in the first three weeks of term, with up to 7 contact hours in these weeks. Thereafter the course will be taught in a 1 hour lecture and a two hour seminar weekly until the end of week 10. A full timetable for the course is available on the MyUni course website.

    Both Seminars and Lectures begin in Week One. It is essential that students attend from week 1. Those who miss the first three weeks will be unable to catch up with the course and attendance requirements.
  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    1 Identify the sources of law in Australia; explain the operation of the common law, analyse cases with an understanding of ratio decidendi and obiter dictum, and employ methods to apply and distinguish cases; and analyse and apply statutes using the appropriate methods of statutory interpretation.
    2 Use basic strategies to solve legal problems, and engage with legal theories to critique the operation of the law.
    3 Work in groups to solve problems, prepare written documents, and prepare a presentation or debate on a topic in legal theory.
    4 Conduct basic legal research, including by using legal databases to research case law, legislation and scholarly journal articles, and use legal citation conventions in the course of legal writing.
    5 Appreciate the ethical dimensions of the role of lawyers, and the functioning of law and legal systems.
    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
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    • Foundations of Law, Lecture and Seminar Guide
    • Foundations of Law, Course Readings
    • Acts Interpretation Act 1901 (Cth) and Acts Interpretation Act 1915 (SA)
    • Catriona Cook et al, Laying Down the Law (LexisNexis, 9th ed, 2015).
    Recommended Resources
    • Australian Guide to Legal Citation (3rd ed, 2010) Melbourne University Law Review Association, Melbourne (available for viewing on the web at and available for purchase). A link has also been placed in the ‘Additional Materials’ folder on the MyUni subject website).
    • A dictionary of legal terms such as LexisNexis, Concise Australian Legal Dictionary (4th ed, 2011) or Oxford, Australian Law Dictionary (2010). Again this is a resource students will find useful throughout their degree.
    Online Learning
    The course is supported by the Foundations of Law MyUni website. The website contains links to the following resources:

    1. Course information, including the seminar and lecture guide.
    2. Course materials – such as items of assessment, lecture PowerPoint slides, and other course materials which will be posted from time to time.
    3. Lectures – audio streaming of lectures and video streaming of lecture slides will be posted (where available) on MyUni as soon as possible after each lecture. (Please note: it can take up to 72 hours for the lectures to be uploaded.)
    4. Discussion Forum – This is available for students to discuss the course among themselves and to communicate with academic staff in relation to administrative or substantive questions about the course.
    5. Grades – where students’ grades will be entered for each assignment.

    MyUni will also be used to post announcements, and assignment tasks. Students are expected to check MyUni regularly to keep up to date with these materials and additional learning resources throughout the course.

    Students should also regularly check their email.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    This course will be taught intensely in the first three weeks of term, with up to 7 contact hours in these weeks. Thereafter the course will be taught in a 1 hour lecture and a two hour seminar weekly until the end of week 10. A full timetable for the course is available on the MyUni course website.

    Lectures and seminars commence in the first week of semester. To be eligible to sit the exam, students must attend 9 of the 12 seminars (see below).

    Seminars examine and apply the material addressed in the lectures and in the readings, as well as covering new material that is better taught in a ‘hands-on’ way, such as legal research. It is essential to prepare for the seminars by undertaking the prescribed reading for the week and preparing the exercises.

    Students must attend the seminar class for which they are enrolled.

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

    In addition to attending formal classes it is anticipated that students will do substantial independent work to prepare for classes and to complete the course assignments. Students should expect to spend about 4 – 6 hours a week reading and preparing materials for lectures and seminars. In addition, students will expect to spend between 4-6 hours attending Court and preparing a report, 3-5 hours preparing for and completing the quiz, 10-14 hours preparing the Analysis and Interpretation assignment, and 4 – 8 hours preparing the Group Debate. Students will require about 18 to 25 hours to prepare for the exam.

    The University expects full time students (those undertaking 12 units per semester) to devote a total of 48 hours per week to their studies.
    Learning Activities Summary
    Week Lecture Seminar A Seminar B  Assessment
    Week   1  Wed 10am: The Concept of Law

    Thurs 2pm (2 hrs): Sources of Law / Doctrine of Precedent / Australian Courts
    Introducing law school/planning your court report

    Understanding the concept of law
    Week 2

    Wed 10am: Indigenous People and the Law

    Thurs 2pm (2 hrs): Solving Legal Problems / McBain Case Analysis
    Sources of Law and Solving Legal Problems Legal Research
    Week 3

    Wed 10am: Legal Profession / Re AJG Case Analysis Understanding the legal profession/How to cite Case analysis (Part 1) FOL case report due
    Week 4

    Wed 10am: Introduction to Statutory Interpretation Case Analysis (Part 2) FOL Research quiz open
    open Monday Week 4 9am until Friday Week 4 5pm
    Week 5 Wed 10am: (NOT recorded) Lecture/Workshop
    on Statutory Interpretation Problem Qu A
    Statutory interpretation (pt 1)
    Week 6

    Wed 10am: (NOT recorded) Lecture/Workshop
    on Statutory Interpretation Problem Qu B
    Statutory interpretation (pt 2)
    Week 7 Wed 10am: Legal Theory No seminar FOL Analysis and Interpretation Assignment due Monday 2pm
    Week 8 Wed 10am: Legal Theory Natural Law and Positivism: What is Law?
    Week 9 Wed 10am: Statutory Interpretation Assignment Feedback Critical Perspectives on Law
    Week 10 No Lecture Legal Theory Presentations
    Week 11 No lecture No seminar
    Week 12 Wed 10am: Legal Theory Revision and Exam Preparation No seminar
    **This program is subject to change. A more detailed progarm will be posted on MyUni in O'Week**
    Specific Course Requirements
    To be eligible to sit the exam, students must attend 9 of the 12 seminars (see below).
  • 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 Task Task Type Due Weighting Length Redeemable Course Learning Outcomes
    Court Report Group Tuesday Week 3, 2pm 5% 3 pages Yes (providing overall interim assessment minimum 40% / bona fide effort - see below) 1,3,5
    Research Quiz Individual 9am Monday - 5pm Friday, Week 4 5% 10 questions 1,2,4
    Advocacy Exercise (Presentation/Debate) Group Week 10 10% 1,2,3,4,5
    Analysis   and     Interpretation   Exercise Individual Monday Week 7, 2pm 30% 5 pages 1,2,4,5
    Exam Individual Exam period 50% or 100% 120 minutes, plus 10 minutes reading time N/A 1,2,5

    Assessment Related Requirements
    1. Attendance

    Students must attend 9 of the 12 seminars. Students should let their seminar leader know if they are unable to attend a seminar. Student will be expected to work in small groups in the seminars. Assessment tasks (such as the Court Report and Legal Theory Presentations) will be conducted in groups.  

    2. Redeemable grades

    In order to redeem interim assessment marks a student must achieve 40% or a bona fide effort as assessed by the course coordinator in the interim assessment.

    Marks achieved in the interim assessment will be added together and make up the interim mark in the subject. The interim mark will count for 50% of the final mark with the examination result making up the other 50%. If students are entitled to redeem their interim assessment mark, and they perform better in the examination, their final mark will be their examination mark (ie the exam will count for 100%).

    Assessment Detail
    Court Report (5%)

    Student groups are required to observe a South Australian Court while in session and each group must submit a report based on their observations that responds to specific questions. Instructions and questions to be answered will be posted on MyUni in week one. The reports must be submitted by Tuesday of Week 3 at 2 pm and are worth 5% of the grade for the course.

    Research Quiz (5%)

    Students are required to complete a 10 question quiz in Week 4 to test their research skills.

    Advocacy Skills - Debate/Presentation (10%)

    In the seminar in week 10 students will participate in an advocacy exercise. The exercise will take the form of a debate or presentation and students will apply legal theory to practical problems. This exercise will be conducted in groups.

    Analysis and Interpretation Exercise (30%)

    The Analysis and Interpretation Exercise comprises two parts. In part 1 students will be given a passage from a judgment in a case relating to legal and professional ethics, and will be required to answer questions similar to those modelled in the seminars on case analysis. In part 2 students will undertake a simple process of statutory interpretation in a form similar to the exercises undertaken in seminars. Detailed instructions with marking criteria will be distributed with the Exercise. The assignment must be submitted by Monday of Week 7 at 2 pm.

    Exam (50% or 100%)

    The exam is 120 minutes in length with 10 minutes reading time. It will be held in the University Examination Period.

    Submission requirements for each piece of assessment will be set out in the information provided when the assessment item is released. Students should read the information on MyUni carefully in relation to submitting each piece of assessment and follow the instructions.


    Extensions beyond the due date will only be granted in the case of serious and unforeseen incapacity. Extensions will be granted only for unexpected illness, hardship or on compassionate grounds in accordance with University Policy. Work commitments, travel, holidays or sporting engagements are NOT unexpected circumstances. If you require an extension, you will need to use the on-line application form available on Unified as soon as you are aware of the need for an extension, and before the due date of the assignment.

    The course coordinator will reply by email, determining whether an extension is warranted, what evidence is required to verify the student’s incapacity, and the length of the extension. Evidence of the incapacity must be submitted with the assignment, and must be consistent with details in the email requesting the extension. If the details of the request for an extension, and the medical or other evidence verifying the extension are not consistent in all respects, the extension is nullified, and the assignment may be penalised.

    All written work in the Law school is required to comply with the approved Law School style guide, the Australian Guide to Legal Citation.


    1. Late Submission: 5% of the total mark possible will be deducted for every 24 hours or part thereof that submission is late, including each day on a weekend. For example, an essay that is submitted after the due date and time but within the first 24 hour period, and that has been graded at 63%, will have 5% deducted, for a final grade of 58%. An assignment that is more than 24 hours late will lose 10%, etc. Hard copy submissions made after 5.00pm on a Friday will be assumed to have been submitted on the next business day and will be penalised accordingly.
    2. Word Length: Assignments which exceed the allocated length (word length ) will be subject to a penalty of 5% of total marks possible per 100 words or part thereof (ie with a word limit of 1,250, an essay graded 63% will have 5% deducted if it is 1,251 words long, for a final grade of 58%, 10% if it is 1,351 words long, etc). Words are calculated including all footnotes and headings within the text but excluding cover page information. Quotations and all referencing information are included in the word count.
    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.

    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 Acess 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 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.

    For more information please check out the Writing Centre website at 

    Lex Salus Program

    Lex Salus was founded in 2013 by Adelaide Law School Wellbeing officers Ms Corinne Walding, Ms Kellie Toole and Dr Mark Giancaspro. Lex Salus is an initiative of the Adelaide Law School aimed at raising law student awareness of the importance of mental, physical and nutritional health across all year levels of the degree, and of the various counselling, disability and equity services both within and outside the University that can provide help. Research shows that law students, both in Australia and in many jurisdictions around the world, experience the highest levels of stress, anxiety and depression out of any other discipline. Many do not get enough sleep, maintain a healthy diet or achieve a realistic work/life balance. Making matters worse, they are unwilling or afraid to speak up for fear of feeling 'weak' or because of the negative stigma that attaches to seeking help. Lex Salus is dedicated to tackling these problems head-on.

    Counselling Service

    The University Counselling Service provides a free and confidential service to all enrolled students. We encourage you to contact the Counselling service on 8313 5663 to make an appointment to deal with any issues that may be affecting your study and life. More information is available at

  • Policies & Guidelines

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

    Plagiarism and other forms of cheating

    Plagiarism is a serious act of academic misconduct. All students must be familiar with the Adelaide Law School Enrolment Guide, and should note in particular the sections relating to plagiarism, grievance procedures and academic conduct within the Law School and the University.

    Plagiarism is a serious matter and is treated as such by the Law School and the University. Please be aware that “academic dishonesty” (which goes beyond plagiarism) can be a ground for a refusal by the Supreme Court of South Australia to refuse to admit a person to practice as a legal practitioner in South Australia.

    Academic honesty 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.