LAW 7177 - Introduction to Australian Law

North Terrace Campus - Quadmester 3 - 2017

This subject is a foundation subject for law postgraduate subjects taken in the Master of Business Law, Master of Comparative Law, Master of Planning and Master of Property. The subject commences with an introduction to Australian law and its legal system, including: - legal system taxonomy, including public and private law, other families of legal systems, including the international legal system and the common law/civil law divide; - the historical background and the development of the Australian legal system; - the roles of the courts in Australia, court processes and hierarchies in Australia and the operation of the doctrine of precedent; - the separation of powers in Australia; and - the legislative system in Australia, law making processes and statutory interpretation. Through a consideration of the law of contract, students will be introduced to issues of supremacy of law (legislation vs common law), The following topics will be covered: - creation and content of a contract (formation, privity, agency, terms); - performance and discharge of obligations (performance, breach, frustration, variation and discharge by agreement); and - remedies (enforcement, compensation and restitution)

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code LAW 7177
    Course Introduction to Australian Law
    Coordinating Unit Adelaide Law School
    Term Quadmester 3
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Intensive
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites Students without a Bachelor of Laws must have completed LAW 7177
    Incompatible LAW 7157
    Restrictions Not Available for Law graduates
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Karen Fairweather

    Course Coordinator: Karen Fairweather
    Ligertwood Building 

    Course Timetable

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

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    A student successfully completing the course will be able to:

       1.Analyse the foundational principles of Australian law, including the development and operation of common law, precedent and court  
          hierarchy, and the roles of parliament and the courts, and the role of the law of contract in particular, within the Australian legal  
          system, undertake legal research with primary and secondary materials, and evaluate legal information.
       2. Apply Australian law and legal theories, and in particular the law of contract, to complex issues, and critique the operation of the law
          from a policy perspective, either individually or as part of a team.
       3. Structure and sustain concise and cohesive written arguments about case analysis, statutory interpretation and contract law for a legal
       4. Conduct and analyse legal research, and write advice on the basis of that research.
       5. Analyse the impact of Australian law generally, and contract law in particular, from both policy and practical perspectives, and in the
           context of social and cultural diversity.
       6. Reflect on their abilities to effectively undertake work as an individual.
    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
    Reading / Texts
    The required readings for this course are contained within the Course Reader. The Reader will be made available in hard copy from The Law School Front Office and online via MyUni.

    Recommended Resources
    Recommended Resources

    Finkelstein et al, Butterworths Concise Australian Legal Dictionary (LexisNexis Butterworths, 5th ed, Butterworths, 2015).

    Australian Guide to Legal Citation (3rd ed, Melbourne University Law Review Association Inc., 2010). Soft copy available at

    Paterson et al, Principles of Contract Law (Lawbook Co., 4th ed, 2012).

    JW Carter, Carter’s Guide to Australian Contract Law, (LexisNexis Butterworths, 2nd ed, 2010).

    Recommended Reference Texts

    Patrick Parkinson, Tradition and Change in Australian Law (Lawbook Co., 5th ed, 2013).

    Catriona Cook et al, Laying Down the Law (LexisNexis, 9th ed, 2014).

    Gary Heilbronn et al, Introducing the Law (CCH Australia, 7th ed, 2008).

    Gooley et al, Principles of Australian Contract Law (LexisNexis Butterworths, 3rd ed, 2013).

    N Sneddon, R Bigwood and M Ellinghaus, Cheshire and Fifoot Law of Contract (LexisNexis Butterworths, 10th Australian ed, 2012).

    Prue Vines, Law and Justice in Australia (Oxford University Press, 3rd ed, 2013).

    Michelle Sanson and Thalia Anthony, Connecting with Law (Oxford University Press, 3rd ed, 2014).

    Elizabeth Ellis, Principles and Practice of Law (Thomson Reuters, 3rd ed, 2012).

    Sue Milne and Kay Tucker, A Practical Guide to Legal Research (Thomson Reuters, 2nd ed, 2010).

    Bruce Bott and Ruth Talbot-Stokes, Nemes and Coss’ Effective Legal Research (LexisNexis Butterworths, 6th ed, 2015).
    Online Learning
    In addition to the use of MyUni as outlined in ‘Learning and Teaching Modes’ below (4.1), MyUni will be used to post announcements, post additional lecture materials (including slides, and where available, audio recordings of lectures) and announce assignment tasks. It will also contain electronic copies of the Course Profile, Lecture and Seminar Guides, and Course Reader. Students are expected to check MyUni regularly to keep up to date with these materials and additional learning resources throughout the course.

  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    4.1 Teaching & Learning Modes

    This course will be taught through a combination of online and face-to-face teaching components.

    The first face-to-face teaching component of this course will occur in the first week of term 3, on Monday 24 July (10am-4pm) and Tuesday 25 July (9am-4pm).Modules 1-7, covered in this Part of the course, will also require students to complete a series of small online tutorials. These will be made available on MyUni.

    The online quiz will involve a series of multiple choice questions relating to the introductory material covered in Modules 1-4.Accordingly, the quiz will assess students knowledge of legal theory and the concept of €˜law, Australian legal history, Federation and the Australian Constitution, Parliament and the lawmaking process, and international legal systems (particularly the civil law/common law dichotomy).This aspect of the assessment is designed to provide students with early feedback regarding their understanding of key issues, terminology and process.The quiz will be made available after Part I of the course has been completed.

    This exercise will involve both a statutory interpretation and a case analysis exercise, and will build upon the knowledge and skills acquired during Modules 5 and 7 (Part I).Students will be provided with the opportunity to apply the relevant legal principles to a factual scenario involving a statute, and to analyse a case and its key features using known techniques.

    The course will reconvene and conclude with two further days of face-to-face teaching on Monday 7 August (10am-4pm) and Tuesday 8 August (9am-4pm) 2016.This component will cover Modules 9-14, which consider the Australian Contract Law in great depth and equip students with the skills to answer problem-based and short answer questions pertaining to the law of contract, the kind of which will be assessed in the take-home exam. Students will also be given the opportunity to review the material covered in the course and raise any questions or concerns.

    The examination will incorporate problem-based and short answer questions relating to the material covered in Part II of the course. It will provide students with an opportunity to demonstrate their ability to apply legal principles to a factual scenario and to generate answers to questions themed on the Australian Contract Law.

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

    For a 3-unit course, the workload requirement is 156 hours. For Introduction to Australian Law, this will be structured as follows: 24
    hours of face-to-face teaching scheduled over six intensive teaching days, 48 hours of guided online learning run via MyUni, and 84 hours of personal study, including the completion of all assessment tasks.
    Learning Activities Summary

    Course stage

    Course component


    Part I (Days 1-2)

    Module 1

    Legal Theory and the Concept of ‘Law’

    Part I (Days 1-2)

    Module 2

    Australian Legal History

    Part I (Days 1-2)

    Module 3

    Federation and the Australian Constitution

    Part I (Days 1-2)

    Module 4

    Parliament and the Lawmaking Process

    Part I (Days 1-2)

    Module 5

    Statutory Interpretation

    Part I (Days 1-2)

    Module 6

    Courts and the Common Law

    Part I (Days 1-2)

    Module 7

    The Doctrine of Precedent and Case Analysis

    Part II (Days 3-4)

    Module 8

    Australian Law and Regulation of Business

    Part II (Days 3-4)

    Module 9

    Formation of Contract

    Part II (Days 3-4)

    Module 10

    Contractual Content and Interpretation

    Part II (Days 3-4)

    Module 11

    Termination of Contract

    Part II (Days 3-4)

    Module 12

    Remedies for Breach of Contract

    Part II (Days 3-4)

    Module 13

    Australian Legal Research

    Specific Course Requirements
  • 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

    Individual or group


    Learning outcomes

    Online quiz




    1, 2, 5, 6

    Case Analysis and Statutory Interpretation Exercise




    1, 2, 3, 4

    Take-Home Exam




    2, 3, 5, 6

    Assessment Related Requirements
    Each piece of assessment is compulsory. None of the assessment is redeemable.
    Assessment Detail
    1. Online Quiz (10%)

    Release Date: The online quiz will be available from 9:00am on Wednesday 26 July 2017 on MyUni.
    Due Date: The online quiz must be completed by 4:00pm on Friday 28 July 2017.
    Details: The quiz will be available electronically, and will comprise 20 multiple choice and/or short answer questions relating to the material covered in Modules 1-4 and 8 of the Course.  Further instructions regarding the Quiz will be provided on MyUni. 

    2. Case Analysis and Statutory Interpretation Exercise (30%)

    Release Date: The case analysis and statutory interpretation exercise will be available from 9:00am on Friday 11 August 2017 on MyUni.
    Due Date: The case analysis and statutory interpretation exercise must be submitted by 5:00pm on Tuesday 29 August 2017.
    Details: Papers must not exceed 1500 words in length (see below for penalties applicable to word count). This exercise will build upon and assess the knowledge and skills acquired during Modules 5-7 (Part I). As with all written work in the Law School, papers must comply with The Australian Guide to Legal Citation, which is discussed in Module 14 (Part II).

    3. Take Home Examination (60%)

    Release Date: 9:00am on Friday 8 September 2017.
    Due Date: 2:00 pm on Monday 11 September 2017.
    Details: This examination will incorporate problem-based and short answer questions relating to the material covered in Modules 9-14 (Part II). It will provide students with an opportunity to demonstrate their ability to apply legal principles to a factual scenario and to generate answers to questions themed on the Australian Contract Law.  Papers must not exceed 2500 words in length.  As with all written work in the Law School, papers must comply with The Australian Guide to Legal Citation, which is discussed in Module 14 (Part II).

    1. Students must retain a copy of all assignments submitted.
    2. To pass Introduction to Australian Law, students must submit an attempt for each three pieces of assessment.
    3. All written assignments must be submitted via ‘Turnitin’ on MyUni.  Details for electronic submission through Turnitin will be provided with the assignment instructions. By submitting your assignment you are agreeing to the following: (a) 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; (b) I give permission for my assessment work to be reproduced and submitted to other  academic staff for the purposes of assessment and to be copied,  submitted and retained in a form suitable for electronic checking of  plagiarism.
    4. Late Submission: Where an assignment is submitted after the due date and without an extension, a penalty of 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 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. This penalty may be increased where the assignment is to be completed in a period of less than a week.
    5. Word length: Assignments which exceed the allocated length (word length) will be subject to a penalty of 5% of total marks possible per 100 words or part thereof (i.e. 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, separate bibliography or list of sources. Quotations and all referencing information are included in the word count.  If the word limit is seriously misstated, this may be regarded as academic dishonesty.
    6. Extensions: Requests for extensions must be made via email to the course co-ordinator in reasonable time before the due date. Extensions will be granted only for unexpected illness, hardship or on compassionate grounds in accordance with University Policy. Work commitments, travel, holidays or sporting engagements are not 'unexpected' circumstances.
    7. When undertaking an assessment task, students are to be assessed according to whether they are law or non-law graduates respectively. Where the nature of the task involves the exercise of skills that law graduates can be expected to have practised or refined over a longer period or to a greater degree than their non-law counterparts, an assessor may legitimately expect a higher standard of performance from the law graduates in the course.
    8. Style of written work: All written work in the Law school is required to comply with the approved Law School style guide, the Australian Guide to Legal Citation.
    9. Turnaround time: The interim assignment for this course will be returned to students within 3 weeks of the submission date. Group feedback, together with written, individual feedback will be provided, from which students can learn in preparation for the final take-home examination. The final take-home examination paper will be returned to students within 4 weeks of the submission date with written individual feedback. Students will be notified by email when assignments are ready for collection from the Law School Front Office, or electronically through 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.

      Students must not submit work for an assignment that has previously been submitted for this course or any other course without prior approval from the lecturer-in-charge.

      Assignments will be returned to students within 3-4 weeks of the due date with written feedback.  Assignments will generally be returned from the Law School Front Office or electronically through MyUni.

      Students will be encouraged to participate in the Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) survey, as an opportunity to provide feedback to the teaching staff in relation to the course.

    • Student Support
      The University Writing Centre provides academic learning and language development services and resources for local, international, undergraduate and postgraduate coursework students enrolled at the University of Adelaide.

      The Centre offers practical advice and strategies for students to master reading, writing, note-taking, time management, oral presentation skills, referencing techniques and exam preparation for success at university through seminars, workshops and individual consultations.
      For more information please check out the Writing Centre website at  

      Lex Salus Program

      Lex Salus was founded in 2013 by Adelaide Law School Wellbeing officers Ms Corinne Walding, Ms Kellie Toole and Dr Mark Giancaspro. Lex Salus is an initiative of the Adelaide Law School aimed at raising law student awareness of the importance of mental, physical and nutritional health across all year levels of the degree, and of the various counselling, disability and equity services both within and outside the University that can provide help. Research shows that law students, both in Australia and in many jurisdictions around the world, experience the highest levels of stress, anxiety and depression out of any other discipline. Many do not get enough sleep, maintain a healthy diet or achieve a realistic work/life balance. Making matters worse, they are unwilling or afraid to speak up for fear of feeling 'weak' or because of the negative stigma that attaches to seeking help. Lex Salus is dedicated to tackling these problems head-on.

      Counselling Service

      The University Counselling Service provides a free and confidential service to all enrolled students. We encourage you to contact the Counselling service on 8313 5663 to make an appointment to deal with any issues that may be affecting your study and life. More information is available at
    • Policies & Guidelines

      This section contains links to relevant assessment-related policies and guidelines - all university policies.

      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.