LAW 3599 - Law Research Dissertation

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2019

Students are required to write a supervised research dissertation on an approved topic. The dissertation will be written and assessed in accordance with procedures approved from time to time by the Dean of Law.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code LAW 3599
    Course Law Research Dissertation
    Coordinating Unit Adelaide Law School
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate Law (LLB)
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 6
    Contact Up to 4 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange N
    Prerequisites LAW 2504 & LAW 2505 or LAW 2598
    Incompatible LAW 3099
    Restrictions Available to LLB students only
    Quota Students wishing to write a research dissertation will be selected into this elective upon the basis of their academic records - only available where School can provide appropriate supervision for research proposed
    Course Description Students are required to write a supervised research dissertation on an approved topic. The dissertation will be written and assessed in accordance with procedures approved from time to time by the Dean of Law.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Beth Nosworthy

    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 their chosen thesis topic in law, undertake legal research with primary and secondary materials, and evaluate legal information.
    2.  Apply the law to complex issues, and critique the operation of the law from a policy perspective, individually.
    3.  Structure and sustain concise and cohesive written arguments for a legal audience.
    4.  Conduct and analyse legal research, and write, individually.
    5.  Analyse the impact of law from policy perspectives, and in the context of social and cultural diversity.
    6.  Reflect on their abilities to effectively undertake individual work.

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

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

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • Able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    There are no required resources for this course.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    The course has no designated classes, and enrolment is by application only. Successful applicants will be students with a GPA of at least 6, or with outstanding results in the particular subject area they wish to study and the recommendation of their potential supervisor based on individual past experience with that student.

    Each student who applies to the course is responsible for undertaking individual discussions with their potential supervisor, a member of Academic Staff at the Adelaide Law School, to develop their research proposal. This discussion must include the provision of an unofficial transcript to the potential supervisor, and discussion of their past achievements.
    Once enrolled, students will meet and communicate to discuss the work with their allocated supervisor.

    There will be a general MyUni course page, through which students will receive communication, but no course material.

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

    Candidates wishing to enrol in the dissertation should submit to the Dissertation Co-ordinator an outline of their proposed dissertation by the deadline advised by the Adelaide Law School in the previous semester. The outline should be about one to two A4 pages in length and provide a brief synopsis of the scope and purpose of the proposed dissertation. This will be assessed, along with the student's GPA and past achievements as demonstrated by the unofficial transcript, in order to determine if the student has the requisite base level of knowledge required to complete a large, individual research task to a high standard. Successful candidates will be enrolled before the semester commences.

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

    Being a 6 unit course, students are expected to spend up to 24 hours a week during term time in the preparation of their dissertation.
    Learning Activities Summary

    No information currently available.

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

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

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

    The Candidate
    The candidate’s role is to produce the dissertation. The candidate has primary responsibility for the progress of the dissertation and the final decision upon any academic matter regarding the content of the dissertation rests with the candidate.

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

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

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

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

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Item % of final mark Due Dates Group/Individual Redeemable? Length
    Dissertation 100% Due: 2pm Friday 7 June 2019 Individual No 12,000 words
    Assessment Detail
    Length of Dissertation
    The word limit for the dissertation is strictly enforced. In presenting their dissertation candidates are required to incorporate a signed statement as to the length of their dissertation (main text and substantive footnotes are to be included in word length, while bibliography, case list, list of contents, required declarations etc are excluded).

    Citations and footnotes should follow the practice used by the Australian Guide to Legal Citation (3rd Ed, 2010). A copy of the Australian Guide to Legal Citation is available from the reserve desk in the Law library. It is also available on the web at or from Melbourne University Law Review at relatively small cost. Pages of the dissertation should be numbered. If a candidate’s dissertation does not conform to the style set out in these guidelines the candidate will be required to rewrite and resubmit in the style designated in these guidelines.

    The dissertation must be presented in the following format.

    The dissertation should be printed on A4 paper on one side only. The margin on the right hand side of the page should be approximately 2.5cm. The margin on the left hand side of the page should be wider, at least 3cm, to allow for binding.

    Any one of the following fonts is acceptable: Times, Times New Roman, or Palatino.

    The font size for the main text must be at least 12 pt.

    The font size for footnotes must be at least 10pt.

    The main body of the text should be double spaced.

    For general rules relating to line spacing for quotations follow the Australian Guide to Legal Citation.

    Footnotes may be single spaced.

    The dissertation should have incorporated in it a signed statement to the effect that to the best of the candidate's knowledge and belief the dissertation contains no material previously published or written by another person except when due reference is made in the text of the dissertation, together with an acknowledgment of any help given or work carried out by another person or organisation. There should also be included a signed statement as to the word length of the dissertation (see 2 above).

    Students should submit two (2) printed copies of their Dissertation. One of the two hard copies should be bound (comb, plastic, spiral, wire or wire-o bound types are appropriate). The ICC ( can provide this service, and students should factor the necessary time for binding into the completion of their thesis.

    Due Date
    - Unless the course coordinator grants an extension, dissertations must be completed and submitted by 2pm Friday 7 June 2019.

    Extensions - Submissions to the course coordinator for an extension of time should be based only upon special or unforeseen personal or research circumstances. As the dissertation must be engaged with, researched and written over a period of 12 weeks, significant circumstances will be required for an extension to be granted. Please consider the Policy and make your application online on Unified.

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

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

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

    Course Grading

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

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

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

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

    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 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.