LAW 2508 - Comparative Law

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2017

This course will cover the following topics: comparative law as an academic discipline; the world's families of legal systems; comparative evaluation of the merits of differing legal solutions to social problems; legal history and comparative law; the impact of ideological, religious and constitutionally entrenched values upon legal systems; conflicts of values, particularly in multicultural societies; law understood as divine revelation and law as a human creation (exemplified by an analysis of the roots of European and North American law and a survey of the history and present day practice of Islamic law); the impact of the philosophy of the Enlightenment on European and North American law (the theory and practice of human rights and the codification movement in civil law and common law countries); codified and uncodified law, highlighting prominent features of civil law and common law systems, eg, differing standards of interpretation of statute law, the courts' approaches to novel issues and the investigatory civil procedure (civil law) and the adversarial civil procedure (common law). Selected civil law judgments (translated into English) and common law judgments which have similar fact patterns will be compared.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code LAW 2508
    Course Comparative Law
    Coordinating Unit Adelaide Law School
    Term Semester 2
    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
    Prerequisites LAW 1501
    Incompatible LAW 3016
    Assumed Knowledge LAW 1502 & LAW 1503
    Restrictions Available to LLB students only
    Course Description This course will cover the following topics: comparative law as an academic discipline; the world's families of legal systems; comparative evaluation of the merits of differing legal solutions to social problems; legal history and comparative law; the impact of ideological, religious and constitutionally entrenched values upon legal systems; conflicts of values, particularly in multicultural societies; law understood as divine revelation and law as a human creation (exemplified by an analysis of the roots of European and North American law and a survey of the history and present day practice of Islamic law); the impact of the philosophy of the Enlightenment on European and North American law (the theory and practice of human rights and the codification movement in civil law and common law countries); codified and uncodified law, highlighting prominent features of civil law and common law systems, eg, differing standards of interpretation of statute law, the courts' approaches to novel issues and the investigatory civil procedure (civil law) and the adversarial civil procedure (common law). Selected civil law judgments (translated into English) and common law judgments which have similar fact patterns will be compared.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Mrs Jessica Viven-Wilksch

    Lecturers in the course:

    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 will be able to:

    1. Analyse the foundational principles of comparative law, undertake (self-directed) legal research intermediate, and evaluate legal information.
    2. Apply comparative law to complex problems/ issues, critique the operation comparative law from a theoretical perspective as part of a team.
    3. Structure and sustain concise and cohesive written arguments for a legal and professional audience.
    4. Conduct legal research and analysis both independently and cooperatively in an academic environment.
    5. Analyse the impact of comparative law from comparative and international perspectives, and in the context of social and cultural diversity.
    6. Reflect on their abilities to effectively undertake work as a member of a team.
    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
    2; 3; 4
    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
    2; 3; 6
    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
    2; 6
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    There is a prescribed texbook and additional readings that will cover the semester.

    The Prescribed Textbook

    The textbook for this course is H. Patrick Glenn, Legal Traditions of the World (5th Edition, 2014).

    Additional Prescribed Readings

    Book chapters and articles by influential comparative law scholars will be made available on MyUni during the semester.
    Recommended Resources
    As complementary books I recommend

    • Mathias Siems, Comparative Law (Cambridge University Press, 2014)
    • Konrad Zweigert and Hein Kötz, An Introduction to Comparative Law (OUP, Third Edition, 1998)
    • Martin Vranken, Fundamentals of European Civil Law (Federation Press, 2nd ed, 2010) Chapters 1-6, 9, 10
    Online Learning
    MyUni is the entry point to online learning at The University of Adelaide:

    This course will use MyUni for announcements,  pre recorded videos, display of PowerPoint slides, lecture outlines and any other material required to be read for the lectures and seminars.

    This course will also require you to use MyUni for some assessment, including Online Quizzes and group assignments. Audio recordings of lectures where available will be posted. Students are expected to check MyUni regularly and often to keep up to date with these materials and additional learning resources that will be made available throughout the course.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes

    Lectures (one [two –hour] per week)

    They will generally take the form of an outline of the topic and its key issues. Students are expected to keep up with the corresponding reading as indicated by the lecturer. Some lecturers may provide outlines, slides or additional material.

    Seminars (one [one –hour] per week)

    They will concentrate on in-depth consideration of questions, including problem-solving, provided in advance of the seminar. Students are expected to read the cases and other materials and questions sets prior to the seminar. Seminars are an important component of your learning in this course and therefore it is in your interest to make every effort to attend them and participate. The communication skills developed in seminars by regularly and actively participating in discussions are considered to be important by the School, and are highly regarded by employers and professional bodies.

    Online activities

    Each student will be required to access pre recorded videos before the lecture. Students will have to complete quizzes online during the course before attendng seminars. Students will also have to submit their group assignments online through TurnItIn.

    Your learning Process

    This course is incorporated some bleded learning. This means that online and traditional face-to-face teaching are used to introduce concepts. Students are strongly encouraged to prepare for each week as follows: 

    For the weekly lecture: 

    • access the relevant module for the week on canvas
    • read the assigned readings
    • watch the pre- recorded videos
    • make notes
    For the weekly seminar:

    • access the relevant module for the week on canvas
    • read the assigned readings
    • complete the quizz on the assigned reading
    • make notes on notions presented on the seminar preparation page.
    Students are strongly encouraged to contribute to the lectures and semniars through regular attendance and participation to in-class activities.

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

    Contact time: attend 2 hours lectures plus 1 hour seminar each week. This amounts to 36 hours of formal class time across the semester.

    It is important to emphasise that lectures and seminars are the class contact hours only. It is therefore necessary for students to allocate study time outside of class, including for the online learning activities. 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





    Introduction to Legal Comparison Can we compare?


    History of Comparative Law and Classification of Legal Systems      Why and How we compare




    Civil Law Mapping the World's Legal Systems


    Common Law SGDE


    Asian Law The Codification Movement


    SGDE Interpreting Statutes in Common Law and Civil law 


    Islamic Law Muslim Law and Australian Law


    Chtonic Law The case of a Mixed Legal System


    Legal Transplants: A History Typology of Legal Transplants


    Human Rights as Universal Law? The Great Debate: Religion and Secular State


    Global Pluralism/conclusion/Revision Revision
    Specific Course Requirements

    Please check your student email and MyUni regularly as course-related announcements are communicated via MyUni.

    Jessica Viven-Wilksch

    Consultation times Wednesday 2-3pm or by appointment
    Phone 8303 4676

    Small Group Discovery Experience
    An interesting and innovative aspect of this course is the Small Group Discover Experience.
    • Students will discover (or rediscover) learning as Intellectual Challenge, and develop a Scholarship of Discovery to inspire them toward learning and lifelong learning
    • to accomplish this learning journey, students will develop research skills
    • learning and teaching delivery modes used will require students to engage actively with their discipline content. 
    The guiding Principles we need to use when we design our Academic programs and the SGDE-based courses within them include:
    • a commitment to knowledge for its own sake, and consequently
    • learning to follow an investigation, in a disciplined fashion, wherever it may lead
    • that students will be actively engaged with boththe SGDE will enrich students' on-campus experience (although not precluding e-enhancement)
      • the content of their course, and
      • with an experienced academic
    • The scholarship of discovery will be central to the learning activities within the course
    More details are available here:
  • 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 Learning Outcome Redeemable
    8 Online Quizzes Summative

    Open on the Friday preceding the seminar until start of seminar

    Quiz 1:31 July
    Quiz 2:14 August
    Quiz 3:28 August
    Quiz 4: 4 September
    Quiz 5: 4 October
    Quiz 6: 9 October
    Quiz 7: 16 October
    Quiz 8 23 October

    10% 1;2; 5 No
    SGDE Group presentation Formative 21 August 2017 n/a 3 minute oral presentation 2
    SGDE Group Assignment Summative  15 september week 8 1pm 30% 2500 words  1; 2; 3;4 Yes (Unless student fails to make a reasonable contribution)
    Group Peer Assessment Summative 25 september 2017 n/a n/a 2;3;4;5 No
    Final Exam Summative Examination period 60% 90 minutes closed book 1; 3;4 No

    Assessment Detail
    • 10% online quiz ( on topic seminars)

    There will be 8 quizzes, counting for 10% of the total grade for this course. These will be completed online through MyUni.

    • 30% research assignment group work

    An exciting part of the course is the group work component, part of the University strategy to implement small group discover experiences (SGCE). Week 3 and week 5 and 7 lectures and seminars will be devoted to the development of group, their topic and their research. The Lecturer will assist with questions and provide support to the students in relation to their research topic and group task management.

    Students will work in groups of 4 to complete a small research project on an area of comparative law. This aspect of the assessment will provide students with feedback regarding their level of understanding of the course material and their research, written communication and critical thinking skills. Students will work in groups of 3 or 4 to complete a small group portfolio assignment, which will be due on Friday 15 september 2016 at 1pm. Students will select their topic from a number of comparative topics which will be available on MyUni early in the semester. The assignment will be submitted online (instructions will be provided on MyUni) with a 2500 word paper.

    The assignment must be written in prose style (using complete sentences), adhere to grammatical rules and use correct spelling. It should be typed in Times New Roman font, using double spaced paragraphs and at least 12pt font size, on one side of A4 paper. The pages must be numbered and the margins should be at least 2.5 cm wide. The essay should include a table of contents and a bibliography. Each paper must be clearly marked with the student’s University of Adelaide number. A word count should be noted on the cover sheet.

    Assessment Criteria
    • level of insight and innovative thought
    • depth of analysis and level of critical examination of the issues raised
    • clarity of expression
    • logical planning and sequence
    • evidence of comprehensive research and consideration of the relevant literature
    • demonstrated understanding of the comparative law method
    • demonstrated understanding of relevant legal materials
    • correct application of relevant material
    • overall presentation, including correct grammar, spelling and punctuation
    • use of resources in formulating the paper including proper acknowledgment and correct referencing

    Students will be advised of the results of this exercise within three weeks of the due date. The results will be displayed on the course website. Students are encouraged to check their marks and notify the lecturer-in-charge of any discrepancies.

    Please note that should a student fail to contribute appropriately to the group, he or she will suffer a mark penalty to adjust the mark for this item of assessment to a level commensurate with their contribution. This lower grade will not be redeemable. If a student fails to contribute appropriately to their group, this will reflect in the peer review. Students that get less than 50% will not be able to redeem their mark for the SGDE research paper. 

    •  Peer Review

    Each group member will have to provide a marked review of the performance of their fellow group members. This review will take place under the Self and Peer Learning Assessment Tool. The tool will be used summatively to generate a mark based on students' individual contributions to a group assignment. After submitting your SGDE assessment, you will have to complete an online form to grade your group members on their group contribution. From your ratings, a score will be established. This score will be applied to the SGDE mark. This will result in each student receiving a different mark for their SGDE based on the contribution. This means that even though the group assignment will be given one common mark, each student will be receive an individual grade based on their contribution to the group project. Clear indications will be provided to students prior to the review being due.

    •  60% final examination: MCQ and short questions

    The exam is 90 minutes in length. The questionnaire consists of 20 Multiple choice questions intended to test the level at which the material studied has been understood and is being recalled. It will be held in the University examination period. The exam will cover weeks 1-12 of the course. There will be 5 short questions to be answered in 3-4 short sentences.

    (N.B. It is each student's responsibility to read the examination timetable. Misreading the timetable is not accepted as grounds for granting a supplementary exam. University staff are not permitted to provide examination times to students over the telephone or in response to personal enquiries.)

    The exam is closed book. Students may NOT bring into the exam any books, notes, and materials, other than books from the library. Professional success in a legal career depends on the ability to absorb efficiently and quickly information which conveys factual matters and legal considerations. The test is intended to show how well students are able to do this. To avoid misunderstanding, it should be made clear that this test has nothing to do with rote learning. The subject matter covered by the test is considerably less extensive than the total amount of material studied during the semester. It is carefully selected and students will be advised of it well before the examination. They are also given sample questions so that they will know what to expect. The questions are sufficiently complex to ensure that understanding them is, in itself, an important part of the test.


    All written work in the Law school is required to comply with, The Australian Guide to Legal Citation available on Hard copies of The Australian Guide to Legal Citation are on Reserve in the Law Library and can also be purchased from UniBooks. Please make sure you have looked at this before you submit any written work.

    Assignments must be handed in electronically by Turnitin. Students must ensure their student number appears on all written work submitted for assessment. Electronic copies of the assignment as handed in must be retained by students. Assignments will be returned electronically. It is also advisable to keep written work after it has been assessed and returned.


    Extensions are granted at the discretion of Course Coordinator.

    Extensions beyond the due date are usually only granted in the case of significant unforeseen incapacity.

    Students who wish to apply, should apply for an extension by completing the online Application for Extension form (found at The application must give details of the extent and length of the student’s incapacity, and the length of extension that is requested. The Course Coordinator will email students with the outcome of their request as soon as possible after it is received. If an extension is granted, it is only provisional until formal evidence of the incapacity is received. Students must attach this evidence as well as the email granting the extension to the assignment when it is submitted. The evidence submitted must be consistent with details provided in the email requesting the extension. If the details of the request for an extension, and the medical or other evidence verifying the reason for the extension are not consistent in all respects, the extension may be nullified, and the Course Coordinator may in their discretion decide not to accept the assignment, or impose a penalty for late submission.

    You can apply for an extension at any time before the due date for an assignment. However, you are strongly advised to make your application as soon as the need becomes apparent. Delay in making an application obviously involves the risk that there will be insufficient time to complete the assignment (with consequential loss of marks) if the application for extension is refused.

    If an application is made within one day of the due date, or after the due date has expired, it will not be granted unless the Course Co-ordinator is satisfied:
    • that the circumstances warrant an extension; and
    • there was no unreasonable delay in making the application.

    If your request for an extension is rejected, you can appeal in writing to the Student Appeals Committee, via the Secretary to the Student Appeals Committee, within seven days of notification of rejection by the Course Co-ordinator.

    Late Submission
    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 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 essay that is more than 24 hours late will lose 10%, etc.

    Word Length
    Assignments which exceed the allocated length (word length or page limit) will be subject to a penalty of 5% of total marks possible per 100 words or part thereof (ie if a word limit of 3,000, an essay graded 63% will have 5% deducted if it is 3001 words long, for a final grade of 58%, 10% if it is 3101 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.

    details on grades available at;field=data;id=5082;m=view  
    General description
     Outstanding or exceptional work in terms of understanding, interpretation and presentation

    A very high
    standard of work
    originality and

    Demonstrates a
    high level of
    understanding and
    presentation and a
    degree of
    originality and
    Satisfies the
    Fails to satisfy the
     Strong evidence of independent reading beyond core texts and materials Evidence of
    reading beyond
    core texts and
    understanding of
    core texts and
    Evidence of having
    read core texts
    and materials
    Very little evidence
    of having read any
    of the core texts
    and materials
    Knowledge of topic
    insight, awareness
    and understanding
    of deeper and
    more subtle
    aspects of the
    topic. Ability to consider topic in
    the broader
    context of the
    Evidence of an
    awareness and
    understanding of
    deeper and more
    subtle aspects of
    the topic
    Sound knowledge
    of principles and
    Knowledge of
    principles and
    concepts at least
    adequate to
    intelligently in the
    topic and to serve as a basis for
    further study
    Scant knowledge
    of principles and
    Articulation of argument
    imagination or flair.
    originality and
    Evidence of
    imagination or flair.
    Evidence of
    originality and
    argument based
    on broad evidence
    Sound argument
    based on evidence
    Very little evidence
    of ability to
    construct coherent
    Analytical and evaluative skills
    Highly developed
    analytical and
    evaluative skills
    Clear evidence of
    analytical and
    evaluative skills
    Evidence of
    analytical and
    evaluative skills
    Some evidence of
    analytical and
    evaluative skills
    Very little evidence
    of analytical and
    evaluative skills
    Problem solving
    Ability to solve
    very challenging
    Ability to solve
    Ability to use and
    apply fundamental
    concepts and skills
    Very little evidence
    of problem-solving
    Expression and presentation
    appropriate to the discipline Highly developed
    skills in expression
    and presentation.
    Well developed
    skills in expression
    and presentation.
    Good skills in
    expression and
    presentation. Accurate and
    of sources. 
    Adequate skills in
    expression and
    presentation Rudimentary skills
    in expression and
    Inaccurate and
    of sources.


    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 offersrs 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.