LAW 1503 - Contracts

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2017

The course acquaints students with the common law, equitable and statutory rules relating to enforceable agreements and puts those rules in their practical perspective. Although the course is not concerned with the statutory modifications made with respect to specific classes of contract (eg employment, land, consumer finance, etc), which are dealt with in other courses, an understanding of the basic conception of a contract is vital not just as a starting point for those statutory models but also for an understanding of everyday commercial agreements. The following topics will be covered: formation; terms and interpretation; privity of contract, agency and assignment of obligations; vitiating factors; statutory remedies for unfair conduct or terms; performance and discharge of obligations; enforcement, compensation and restitutionary remedies.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code LAW 1503
    Course Contracts
    Coordinating Unit Adelaide Law School
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate Law (LLB)
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 6
    Contact Up to 6 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites LAW 1501
    Corequisites LAW 1501
    Incompatible LAW 1003
    Restrictions Available to LLB students only
    Course Description The course acquaints students with the common law, equitable and statutory rules relating to enforceable agreements and puts those rules in their practical perspective. Although the course is not concerned with the statutory modifications made with respect to specific classes of contract (eg employment, land, consumer finance, etc), which are dealt with in other courses, an understanding of the basic conception of a contract is vital not just as a starting point for those statutory models but also for an understanding of everyday commercial agreements.

    The following topics will be covered: formation; terms and interpretation; privity of contract, agency and assignment of obligations; vitiating factors; statutory remedies for unfair conduct or terms; performance and discharge of obligations; enforcement, compensation and restitutionary remedies.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Professor Andrew Stewart

    Course Timetable

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

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    On successful completion of this course, students should be able to:

    1. Understand the general principles of the law of contract, undertake legal research with primary and secondary materials, and evaluate legal information.

    2. Analyse complex problems relating to contractual dealings, identify relevant legal issues and correctly apply relevant legal principles to suggest an answer.

    3. Structure and sustain concise and cohesive written arguments for a legal audience.

    4. Discuss and analyse complex problems.

    5. Reflect on their abilities to effectively  analyse problems and apply relevant legal principles.

    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
    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
    Students will be supplied, through MyUni, with weekly study guides that outline the material and issues to be covered in both lectures and seminars.

    The prescribed textbook for the course is Paterson, Robertson and Duke, Principles of Contract Law (5th ed, Thomson, 2016).
    Recommended Resources
    Students may want to acquire a casebook with conveniently edited summaries of various court decisions that involve relevant issues of contract law, though this is not essential. The following two casebooks in particular are recommended — either would be suitable:

    • Paterson, Robertson and Duke, Contract: Cases and Materials (13th ed, Thomson, 2016)
    • Carter, Cases and Materials on Contract Law in Australia (6th ed, Lexis Nexis, 2012)
    Here are some other texts that students might wish to use for reference, in addition to the prescribed text:
    • Carter, Contract Law in Australia (6th ed, Lexis Nexis, 2013)
    • Willmott, Christensen, Butler and Dixon, Contract Law, (4th ed, OUP, 2013)
    • Seddon, Bigfoot and Ellinghaus, Cheshire & Fifoot’s Law of Contract, (10th Aust ed, Lexis Nexis, 2012)
    • Carter’s Guide to Australian Contract Law, (3rd ed, Lexis Nexis, 2016)
    These are by no means the only contract law books available. In particular, there are a range of introductory or ‘basic principles’ books. With the exception of Carter’s Guide (above), which in any event is something more than an introductory work, none of these in particular are recommended. If students feel the need to acquire or use such a text, they should choose whichever one makes most sense to them or seems most suited to their needs.
    Online Learning
    The MyUni course page for Contracts can be accessed at

    Besides this course outline and the study guides, students can use MyUni to access copies of the PowerPoints used in lectures, recordings of the lectures, any materials that students are specifically required to read for the seminars, and assessment tasks.

    There is also a Discussion Board for the course on MyUni. This has been set up as a way of enabling students enrolled in the course to communicate with one another. Students may use it to post questions that they are hoping some other student can answer. But if their question is really to one of the teachers in the course, they should e-mail that teacher directly.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    Students in this course should attend or at least listen to all lectures throughout the semester, plus attend one two-hour seminar each week. Attendance at seminars is strongly encouraged.

    The lectures will offer an overview of the general principles of contract law. Each lecture will include an opportunity for students to ask questions on the issues covered.

    There will also be a series of recorded lectures, available online. These include two introductory lectures which students should watch or listen to before the live lectures start in Week 1. Later on in the semester there will also be a series of special lectures that provide more in-depth analysis of some of the leading cases on the law of contract.

    The seminars involve small group discussion of hypothetical problems and selected cases or other readings. They generally deal with topics covered in lectures in the preceding week(s), so as to deepen students’ understanding of that area. Seminars are an important component of students’ learning in this course. The communication and problem-solving skills developed by regularly and actively participating in discussions are considered to be most important by the Law School and are highly regarded by employers and professional bodies.

    Students will also be expected to complete a series of online quizzes, which will start in Week 2. These will provide a valuable opportunity to revise key concepts introduced in the lectures. More is said about the quizzes in the section on Assessment.

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

    As this is a 6-unit course, students are expected to devote an average of 24 hours per week to their studies in it, including the scheduled classes and the online quizzes.

    Unless specifically asked to do so, students are not required to read materials ahead of lectures. For seminars, on the other hand, preparation is essential. Students must read the material to which they are referred, and come prepared to answer whatever questions are set. Often that will mean preparing (at least in note form) an answer to a problem based on hypothetical facts.

    In general, the following study methods are suggested:

    Although it is not required as a general rule, students may wish nonetheless to do some pre-reading for the lectures: for example by looking through the sections in the prescribed text that relate to the material that is upcoming.

    Attend the lectures and take notes. If unable to attend, access the lecture recordings through MyUni.

    Copies of PowerPoint presentations that are used in the lectures will be available on MyUni ahead of each lecture. These provide a basic outline of the points covered, though they should not be seen as a substitute for attendance. Some students may find it useful to print the slides out in advance of the relevant lectures and use them as a basis for taking notes.

    The lectures are intended to provide an overview of the relevant principles and to put them in context. They are not meant to tell students everything they need to know, but to serve as a guide for their own study.

    That study should involve, at the very least, reading through the pages referred to in the prescribed text, together with any other asterisked material in the lecture outline. Students should feel free to skim read parts of the text that deal with issues or cases not on the lecture outline.

    Each section of the lecture outline also contains non-asterisked references by way of further reading. In relation to the cases and statutory provisions in this category, it is sufficient to be aware of their general significance, as explained in the lectures. Students are not required to read them, though they should try to at least skim read them. Non-asterisked secondary sources are entirely optional.

    Students should bear in mind that contract law is a huge topic. There are many principles and issues which there is simply not to time to cover, or on which the course can only briefly touch. Extra reading can often greatly expand students’ knowledge and enhance their chances of performing really well in the assessment — but students should be careful not to bite off more than they can chew!

    Students should do the required reading as they go, rather than leaving it to a rush at the end of the semester. That will not only help preparation for seminars (which often concern issues covered in the previous weeks’ lectures), but also take some of the pressure off revision for the final exam.

    It is strongly recommended that students complete the online quizzes as soon as they become available, as they require revision of the material introduced in lectures. This is a valuable way of gaining feedback on a student’s understanding of that material and can help ensure they have a proper grounding for the more detailed work undertaken in seminars.
    Learning Activities Summary
    Week beginning Lecture topic Seminar topic
    Feb 20 (OWeek) Introductory lectures available online
    1. Feb 27 Remedies Introduction / Case reading
    2. March 6 Formation 1 Remedies 1 / Law and equity
    3. March 13 Formation 2 / Estoppel

    (No lecture Mon 13 March, replacement Fri 17 March, 1-3pm, L2)
    Formation / Preparing a written answer to a problem

    (No seminars Mon 13 March)
    4. March 20 Privity, Agency & Assignments Formation / Estoppel
    5. March 27 Terms 1
    Privity / Revision
    6. April 3 Terms 2 / Performance

    Take-home exam released Tues 4 April 9am
    No seminars

    Take-home exam due Wed 12 April 2pm
    7. April 24 Performance / Termination 1

    (No seminars Tues 25 April,
    extra seminars Fri 28 April)
    8. May 1 Termination 2

    Marked papers returned Thur 4 May
    9. May 8 Termination 3 / Misinformation 1 Termination / Feedback on take-home exam
    10. May 15 Misinformation 2 Termination
    11. May 22 Unconscionability & Unfairness Misinformation
    12. May 29 Other vitiating factors Misinformation / Unconscionability & Unfairness
    13. June 5 Revision (Monday only) Revision for final exam
    Specific Course Requirements
    There are no course-specific requirements, apart from those listed below under Assessment.
    Small Group Discovery Experience
  • 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
    Task Due date Weighting Course learning outcomes
    Online quizzes Fri 16 June, 5:00pm 10% 1
    Take-home exam Wed 12 April, 2:00pm 30% redeemable (see below) 1–5
    Final exam S1 exam period 60 or 90% 1–5
    Assessment Related Requirements
    The take-home exam is compulsory, because it covers essential material that is not assessed in the final exam. Failure to complete this item of assessment will result in course failure.
    Assessment Detail

    Note: More detailed information and guidance will be distributed ahead of each exam, including the criteria that will be used to assess students’ work.

    1. Online quizzes ~ (10%)

    Students will be expected to complete 10 online quizzes, which will be released over Weeks 2-13. Each quiz will involve 10 multiple-choice questions on material and issues previously covered in lectures. To complete a quiz, students must enter correct answers to at least 8 questions. Each quiz may be attempted as many times as is necessary to gain the minimum score. Each quiz successfully completed will be worth 1% of the total mark for the course, regardless of whether 8, 9 or 10 questions are correctly answered for that quiz. The quizzes must be completed before the start of the examination period.

    Due Date: 5:00pm on Friday 16 June 2017

    2. Take-home exam ~ (30% redeemable)

    This will involve a single problem-style question, raising issues covered in Remedies, Formation, Estoppel and Privity. Answers must not exceed 2500 words in length.

    Exam question available: Tuesday 4 April, from 9:00am on the course website

    Due Date: 2:00pm on Wednesday 12 April 2017

    The take-home exam mark is redeemable, for those who get a mark of at least 45%. If a student gets at least that mark for the take-home, but does better on the final exam, only their final exam mark will count towards their overall result. Otherwise, the take-home counts for 30% of the overall mark.

    3. Final Exam ~ (60% or 90%)

    There will be a 3 hour and 20 minutes final exam. Ten minutes’ official reading time will also be provided, although it is recommended that students take 30 minutes in total to read the paper and prepare their answers. The exam will be open book, meaning that any notes, materials or books (excluding University library books) may be taken into the examination room.
    The exam will test understanding of all issues covered in the course, with the exception of Formation and Privity.

    Exam period: 17 June to 1 July 2017

    The weighting of the final exam will vary as follows:

    • for a student who gets below 45% for the take-home exam or does better on the take-home than the final exam – 60%
    • for a student who gets at least 45% for the take-home exam but does better on the final exam – 90%
    1. Take-home exam answers must be submitted electronically through MyUni, and may be checked for plagiarism. Students must retain a copy of all answers submitted.
    2. Answers must be written in prose style (using complete sentences), adhere to grammatical rules, and use correct spelling. All written work in the Law school is required to comply with The Australian Guide to Legal Citation, which is available at
    3. Students must adhere to the word limit for the take-home exam. Word limits include all words in the text, in headings, and in footnotes. 5% of the total mark possible will be deducted for every 10% (or part thereof) by which the assignment exceeds the word limit. For example, an answer graded 72% will have 5% deducted, giving a final mark of 67%, if it is between 2501 and 2750 words in length; or 10% deducted if it is between 2751 and 3000 words; and so on.
    4. Where an answer to the take-home exam is not submitted by the due date in accordance with the submission instructions, 5% of the total mark possible will be deducted for every 24 hours or part thereof that it is late, including each day on a weekend. For example, an answer 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 answer that is more than 24 hours late will lose 10%, etc.
    5. Because of the nature of the take-home exam, no extensions can be granted, except where University policies specifically require otherwise. Anyone who cannot submit an answer by the due date has the option of applying for replacement assessment on medical and compassionate grounds (see Policies & Guidelines section). If such an application is successful, they will be given the chance to undertake a new take-home exam during the replacement exam period.
    6. Marked answers will be returned to students within 3 weeks with written feedback.
    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.

    The following descriptors apply to this particular course:

    • Fail — Does not address the questions; and/or demonstrates fundamental errors of understanding of key legal principles and concepts (as required of applicants for admission to legal practice by the LPEAC Rules); and/or demonstrates limited analytical and evaluative skills.
    • Pass — Demonstrates a basic understanding of the relevant legal principles, concepts and materials; arguments rational and coherent.
    • Credit — Demonstrates a good level of understanding of the relevant legal principles, concepts and materials; arguments are generally well constructed and demonstrate some analytical and evaluative skills.
    • Distinction — A high level of understanding of the relevant legal principles, concepts and materials; arguments are consistently well constructed and demonstrate good analytical and evaluative skills.
    • High distinction — Outstanding level of understanding of the relevant legal principles, concepts and materials; arguments are compelling and well supported by argument and analysis.

    Courses for which a result of conceded pass has been obtained may not be presented towards the degree requirements for the Bachelor of Laws or the Honours Degree of Bachelor of Laws programs, or any postgraduate law program, nor to satisfy prerequisite requirements within any law course.

    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.

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

  • 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.

    One change to this particular course that has been introduced as a result of student feedback through course SELTs has been to cover more of the required material earlier in the course, so as to reduce the amount of new material being introduced in the last few weeks. Efforts have also been made to provide more assistance with problem-solving and the preparation of written answers.
  • 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.

    Further information regarding the Law School Policies and Procedures in relation to Supplementary Assessment, Extensions, and Remarks etc can be found at:

    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.