LAW 2526 - Legal Theory

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2024

This course explores jurisprudence, which takes as its focus the philosophy and theory of law. It explores the answers that have been offered to two major questions: what is law, and what ought law to be. The major schools of thought in relation to the nature of law include natural law, analytic jurisprudence, legal positivism, historical jurisprudence, sociological jurisprudence, legal realism, critical legal studies, interpretivism, therapeutic jurisprudence, and general (global) jurisprudence. In relation to what law ought to be (normative jurisprudence), major schools of thought include virtue jurisprudence, deontology, utilitarianism, and the work of John Rawls.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code LAW 2526
    Course Legal Theory
    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
    Prerequisites LAW 1501
    Incompatible LAW 2064
    Restrictions Available to LLB, Bachelor of Criminology with Bachelor of Laws, Bachelor of Teaching (Middle) with Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Teaching (Secondary) with Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Teaching with Bachelor of Arts only
    Assessment Typically to include essay and class participation.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Professor Paul Babie

    Name: Paul Babie
    Room: 3.05
    Phone: 83135521
    Course Timetable

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

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    This course is designed to provide an opportunity for in-depth and focused examination of legal theory. The subject is also multidisciplinary, and will provide expertise in history, philosophy, politics and current affairs.  

    On successful completion of this course students will be able to:
    1. analyse the relationship between law and legal theory, undertake legal research with primary and secondary materials, and evaluate legal information;
    2. apply legal theory to contemporary  issues, and critique the operation of law from the perspective of ethics and justice;
    3. structure and sustain concise and cohesive written and oral arguments for a legal audience;
    4. analyse law from a theoretical including issues related to justice, fairness and ethics.
    5. develop an original topic of research for sustained reflection;
    6. apply critical thinking skills to a range of legal and theoretical issues.
    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)

    Attribute 1: Deep discipline knowledge and intellectual breadth

    Graduates have comprehensive knowledge and understanding of their subject area, the ability to engage with different traditions of thought, and the ability to apply their knowledge in practice including in multi-disciplinary or multi-professional contexts.

    1, 2, 4, 5,

    Attribute 2: Creative and critical thinking, and problem solving

    Graduates are effective problems-solvers, able to apply critical, creative and evidence-based thinking to conceive innovative responses to future challenges.

    2, 6

    Attribute 3: Teamwork and communication skills

    Graduates convey ideas and information effectively to a range of audiences for a variety of purposes and contribute in a positive and collaborative manner to achieving common goals.

    1, 3

    Attribute 4: Professionalism and leadership readiness

    Graduates engage in professional behaviour and have the potential to be entrepreneurial and take leadership roles in their chosen occupations or careers and communities.

    4, 6

    Attribute 5: Intercultural and ethical competency

    Graduates are responsible and effective global citizens whose personal values and practices are consistent with their roles as responsible members of society.

    4, 6

    Attribute 8: Self-awareness and emotional intelligence

    Graduates are self-aware and reflective; they are flexible and resilient and have the capacity to accept and give constructive feedback; they act with integrity and take responsibility for their actions.

    1, 2, 4
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources

    There is no required text on this topic. All readings will be provided through MyUni. Several works on research and writing will be recommended. Recommended books will be discussed in the first class.

    Recommended Resources
    A list of recommended readings will be made available through MyUni. MyUni will also feature a page of links to useful internet resources and news articles. These will be particularly helpful in locating material on contemporary legal and political issues that are relevant to the course.
    Online Learning
    The course is supported by the ‘Legal Theory’ MyUni website. The website contains links to the following resources:
    1. Course information, including the Course Outline and 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) under the Course Materials link as soon as possible after each lecture;
    4. Discussion Board – This is available for students to discuss the course amongst themselves and to communicate with the course coordinator in relation to administrative or substantive questions about the course; and
    5. 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
    The course is taught through a one hour lecture and a two hour discussion tutorial each week. Lectures and tutorials commence in the first week of semester one. Both the lecture and seminar will take place in the same venue with a break at each hour or as required.

    The lectures will provide an introduction to the issue we are dealing with that week. Sometimes the lecture will consist of a close reading of the materials for the week: at others it will range more broadly and may include extracts from a documentary. Although it is a lecture, it will be run, in part, in seminar mode: ie the lecturer will be asking questions and inviting comments along the way.

    It is essential that participants have done the week’s reading before attending the lecture/seminar. Doing the readings before class will help to introduce you to the concepts and concerns for the week, and the lecture will then help to clarify these further. The seminar is your opportunity to discuss the materials with your colleagues, to examine the issues that you find most interesting, and explore the concepts you are having the most difficulty with. To this end, I intend to facilitate a wide-ranging exploration of the week’s material and be directed by the interests and concerns of the class.

    It is recommended that you take notes as you do your readings. This will help you clarify issues as you go along. You might want to take notes on what you think the argument being made is; whether you find the argument plausible and why; and how the argument might relate to current political events. Not everything in an article is central to the argument, so a crucial part of taking notes is identifying what you think are the central arguments. It is a good idea to write down one particular question that is the most pressing or interesting for you: it could, for example, be something that bothers you about the author's analysis, a concept or argument that you think needs clarification. This will help you contribute to the tutorials and make them a lively and interesting learning experience.

    Lectures will be audio-streamed (technology permitting) and PowerPoint slides supporting the lecture will be available prior to the lecture

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

    In taking this course students are expected to attend 12 hours of lectures and 24 hours of seminars. To get the most from this course, it is essential that students spend time doing the readings, taking notes and thinking about the issues. Students should expect to spend 6-7 hours per week doing this. Approximately 10-15 hours should be spent on the research proposal and 30-50 hours should be spent on the research essay.
    Learning Activities Summary
    Weekly Topics
    Week 1 Introduction
    Week 2 TBA
    Week 3 TBA
    Week 4 TBA
    Week 5 TBA
    Week 6 TBA
    Week 7 TBA
    Week 8 TBA
    Week 9 TBA
    Week 10 TBA
    Week 11 TBA
    Week 12 TBA
  • 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
    This course contains four pieces of assessment:
    Assessment Task Task Type Length Due Redeemable Weighting Learning Outcome
    Research Presentation Individual 3 Minutes Friday, Week 13 at 5pm No 15% 1-6
    Research Proposal Individual 1,800 words Monday, Week 6 at 2pm No 25% 1-6
    Research Paper Individual 4,000 words Friday, Week 12 at 2pm No 60% 1-6
    Assessment Detail
    Research Presentation (15%, 3 minutes)

    Beginning in week four students will be scheduled to give a 3 minute presentation on their research topic (modelled on the 3MT concept). This presentation should provide an overview of the specific research question, the crisis which is being addressed and why the topic is important for investigation. Where possible, the presentation should be interactive and perhaps make use of the AV equipment and handouts. At the conclusion of the presentation, there will be a brief Q/A session where classmates will have the opportunity to ask questions about the research topic and offer suggestions for the project.

    Research Proposal (25%, 1800 words)

    This is a proposal for your research paper. It should be no more than 1800 words and should include a specific research question; discussion of the research topic; a preliminary list of research resources, including a description (annotated bibliography) of at least 5 relevant articles, cases or books. Essay proposals will also be separately considered by the course coordinator for approval as the topic which will form the basis of the major research essay component of the assessment. It is each student’s responsibility to develop an acceptable research topic. 

    Research Paper (60%, 4000 words)

    For the major essay, students will undertake a substantial amount of independent research that follows on from their research proposal and presentation. The research essay will be no more that 4,000 words long. Because research topics will usually have been discussed with individual students before approval, in practice this will not be an anonymous assessment. Please use the AGLC 4th ed for style and referencing. The skills that are of central importance for this essay include: The ability to provide argument and critical thinking skills; The ability to fairly reconstruct a position and argument in regard to a particular issue; and the ability to express your own thoughts and reason and argue about the material that you are addressing (this is your argument or considered judgment).

    Your research proposal and essay must be submitted electronically to Turnitin, a software program that checks for plagiarism. Instructions on submitting your essay to Turnitin will be distributed on MyUni.

    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. 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.

    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 with 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.


    Extensions beyond the due date are generally only granted in the case of serious and unforeseen incapacity. If you require an extension, you will need to use the on-line application form 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.
    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.

    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.

    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 Honesty
    Academic dishonesty is a serious act of academic misconduct. All students must be familiar with the University’s Academic Honesty Policy.

    Academic dishonesty is a serious matter and is treated as such by the Law School and the University. Academic dishonesty (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 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.