LAW 7174 - Advanced Comparative Law

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2016

This course examines theoretical and practical issues in Comparative Law. It challenges students to develop a critical perspective on Comparative Law as an academic discipline and on families of legal systems; it considers different methods of comparative legal analysis; it emphasises the impact of societal values upon legal systems and examines 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); it reflects on the differences between codified and uncodified law, highlighting prominent features of civil law and common law systems.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code LAW 7174
    Course Advanced Comparative Law
    Coordinating Unit Adelaide Law School
    Term Semester 1
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Intensive
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites LAW 7177 or its equivalent for non-law graduates
    Incompatible LAW 7024
    Assessment Assessment in this course will include a combination of two or more of the following: interim written assessment; in-class presentation; assessment of contribution to class discussion; examination (invigilated or take-home); and/or research essay.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Jessica Viven-Wilksch

    Jessica Viven-Wilksch
    Ligertwood Building, room 2.09
    Phone: 8313 4676
    Staff website: 

    Course Timetable

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

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    General academic learning outcomes:

    (1) To promote in students a more complete understanding of their own legal systems;

    (2) To employ the methods of jurisprudence and legal history in order to deepen students’ understanding not just of their own law, but of law as such;

    (3) To develop in students a sense of history and chronology in relation to the evolution of major legal institutions in
    some of the world’s most important jurisdictions;

    (4) To develop in students a critical approach to the virtues and imperfections of concepts employed by legal systems in formulating legal rules and principles;

    (5) To introduce students to foreign legal cultures;

    (6) To lessen unreflective national prejudice and to improve international understanding.

    Professional learning outcomes:

    (7) To prepare students for the performance of tasks involved in law reform projects, whether these involve legal innovation, harmonization or the unification of their domestic law;

    (8) To impart to students the forensic skills needed to apply foreign legal rules, principles and provisions which are attracted by conflicts principles;

    (9) To prepare students for issues that may arise when they communicate with foreign lawyers.

    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 is no prescribed textbook for this course. A complete set of reading materials will be issued to students on MyUni. MyUni can be found at
    Recommended Resources
    Some important works are on reserve in the Law Library. Students may find them useful as additional reading. A list will be made available on MyUni. 

    Should students want to refer to an introductory text, the following is recommended:
    Martin Vranken, Fundamentals of European Civil Law (Federation Press, 2nd ed, 2010) Chapters 1-6, 9, 10 (2 copies on reserve in Law Library)

    Another useful Comparative Law text is

    H Patrick Glenn, Legal Traditions of the World (Oxford University Press, 5th ed, 2014)

    The Australian Guide to Legal Citation (3rd ed, 2010) (available electronically at and in hard copy in the Law Library and for purchase at Unibooks)
    Online Learning
    Additional web-links, further resources, assessment, important messages, topic notes, power point slides, case studies and other materials relating to the course will be placed on MyUni.
    You should check the Comparative Law course link on MyUni regularly.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    This intensive course is held on 23-24th April and 14-15th May 2016 from 9am-12noon and 1-4pm. There is an expectation that you will attend all of the scheduled classes.
    Most of the teaching will be class discussion and students are encouraged to interact with each other and the teachers as much as possible.

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

    The University expects full-time students (i.e. those taking 12 units per semester) to devote a total of 156 hours to a three unit course.
    Learning Activities Summary
    Please note that the following list of seminar topics is preliminary. A final list with relevant dates will be made available on MyUni before the commencement of semester 1.

    Course Overview and Introduction
    Why compare?
    How to compare?
    Legal comparison and its uses
    Families of legal systems
    Legal history and comparative law
    The impact of values on legal systems
    Religious elements: The Law of God in Western countries
    The Roman law legacy
    The common law legacy
    Introduction to the origins of legal systems in Muslim countries
    The codification movement
    Legal transplants
    Law and development through the example of Human rights

  • 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

    Worth Due Date Individual/Group Graduate attributes
    Online Examination


    14 May 2016



    Take home exam


    23 May 2016



    Seminar Participation


    All seminars



    There are three components of assessment for this course. Each part of the assessment scheme is compulsory. This means that if any one of the items of assessment is not undertaken/submitted, the marks assigned for that assessment will be irrevocably lost, and the final mark obtainable will be reduced by that amount.
    Assessment Detail
    (I) ONLINE EXAMINATION (30% of the final result)

    Administered in class on Saturday 14 May 2016 at 9-10am, conducted in the Nexus 10 Building, 217 Computer Suite 2, level 2.

    This examination will consist of multiple choice questions. It will test students’ critical understanding of the course contents. This examination will be a closed book test (60 minutes).

    The test is intended to show how well students are able to absorb efficiently and quickly information which conveys factual matters and legal considerations. The questions are intended to test the level at which the material studied has been understood and is being recalled. To avoid misunderstanding, it should be made clear that this test has nothing to do with rote learning. The questions are sufficiently complex to ensure that understanding them is, in itself, an important part of the test. Students will be given sample questions in advance so that they know what to expect. The great advantage of this form of testing is that marking does not depend on subjective judgment. Furthermore, foreign students whose native language is not English are not at a disadvantage. The results are objective and reliable; they are usually well distributed over the whole of the available range from high distinction to failure. Rarely is there any bunching around the pass mark. The limitation of this kind of examination is that it tests only a limited range of capacities and must therefore be supplemented by other, more traditional forms of assessment (see (II), (III)).

    (II) TAKE HOME EXAM (60% of the final result)

    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 must submit a 3000 word take home exam. The exam questions will be made available on MyUni with further instructions. The deadline for submission is Monday 23 May 2016.

    The take home exam 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 1.5 or double spaced paragraphs and 12pt font size. The pages must be numbered and the margins should be at least 2.5 cm wide.

    (III) SEMINAR PARTICIPATION (10% of the final result)

    This aspect of the assessment is designed to facilitate student engagement with the course materials during the course; to ensure student understanding of the material at an early stage prior to submitting written assessment; and to facilitate development of students’ oral communication skills. Students who wish to succeed with this aspect of the assessment will need to prepare for each session by careful study of the assigned material.
    The take home exam in this course is to be submitted electronically on MyUni through Turnitin. By submitting your exam electronically you are agreeing to the following:

    I declare that all material in this assessment is my own work except where there is clear acknowledgement and reference to the work of others. I have read the Policy on Cheating in Examinations and Related Forms of Assessment. I have also read the University's Plagiarism Policy.

    Details for electronic submission through Turnitin will be provided with the take home exam instructions on MyUni.

    All written work in the Law School is required to comply with, The Australian Guide to Legal Citation available at .
    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.


    1. Late Submission:
    Submission penalties of 5% of the total mark possible will be deducted for every 24 hours or part thereof that the take home exam is late, including each day on a weekend. For example, an exam graded 63% will have 5% deducted if it is one hour late, for a final grade of 58%, 10% if it is 25 hours late, etc.

    2. Word Length:
    Take home exams which exceed the allocated word length will be subject to a penalty of 5% of total marks possible per 100 words or part thereof (ie with a word limit of 3,000 an exam 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 headings within the text but excluding cover page information. Citations in footnotes are not counted, but any substantive writing in footnotes is counted.

    Turnaround time:
    The exam for this course will be returned to students with written feedback once the grade has been approved by the Adelaide Law School. Marked exams with feedback will be available electronically on MyUni.
    Course Grading

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

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

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

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

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

  • 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.

    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 and . 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.