LAW 7177 - Introduction to Australian Law

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2015

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 Semester 1
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Intensive
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Incompatible LAW 7157
    Restrictions Law graduates
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Mark Giancaspro

    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. Understand the sources of law in Australia 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;
    2. Read and analyse cases, with an understanding of ratio and obiter dictum, and a knowledge of the methods that can be used to apply and distinguish cases;
    3. Understand some basic strategies that can be used to solve legal problems;
    4. Read, analyse and apply statutes using the appropriate methods of statutory interpretation;
    5. Conduct basic legal research, including by using legal databases to research case law, legislation and scholarly journal articles;
    6. Appreciate the ethical dimensions of the role of lawyers, and the functioning of law and legal systems;
    7. Understand and discuss core legal theories;
    8. Work in groups to solve problems and contribute to class discussions;
    9. Work individually to prepare and present a debate on a topic in class; and
    10. Use legal citation conventions in the course of legal writing.
    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)
    Knowledge and understanding of the content and techniques of a chosen discipline at advanced levels that are internationally recognised. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
    The ability to locate, analyse, evaluate and synthesise information from a wide variety of sources in a planned and timely manner. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
    An ability to apply effective, creative and innovative solutions, both independently and cooperatively, to current and future problems. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
    Skills of a high order in interpersonal understanding, teamwork and communication. 3, 5, 8, 9
    A proficiency in the appropriate use of contemporary technologies. 5, 10
    A commitment to continuous learning and the capacity to maintain intellectual curiosity throughout life. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
    A commitment to the highest standards of professional endeavour and the ability to take a leadership role in the community. 3, 6, 8, 9
    An awareness of ethical, social and cultural issues within a global context and their importance in the exercise of professional skills and responsibilities. 1, 3, 5, 6
  • 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

    Peter Butt and David Hamer, Butterworths Concise Australian Legal Dictionary (LexisNexis Butterworths, 4th ed, Butterworths, 2011).

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

    Jeannie Paterson, Andrew Robertson and Arlen Duke, Principles of Contract Law (Lawbook Co., 4th ed, 2012).

    JW Carter, Carter’s Guide to Australian Contract Law, (LexisNexis Butterworths, 2nd ed, 2011).

    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, 8th ed, 2012).

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

    John Gooley and Peter Radan, Principles of Australian Contract Law (LexisNexis Butterworths, 2006).

    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, 2nd ed, 2009).

    Michelle Sanson, David Worswick and Thalia Anthony, Connecting with Law (Oxford University Press, 2nd ed, 2009/10).

    Elizabeth Ellis, Principles and Practice of Law (2nd ed, Thomson Lawbook Co, 2009).

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

    Bruce Bott, Jill Cowley, Lynette Falconer, Nemes and Coss’ Effective Legal Research (4th ed, LexisNexis Butterworths, 2009).
    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 semester on Monday 2 and Tuesday 3 March 2015 in Room 1.26 of the Ligertwood Building (Moot Court).  Each face-to-face teaching day will run from 9am to 4pm, with breaks for morning tea and lunch. Modules 5-7, 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 (Days 1-2). 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 (Days 1-2) 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 5-7 (Days 1-2). 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 23 and Tuesday 24 March 2015. This component will cover the more sizeable Modules 9-10, which consider the Australian law of contract 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 and questions or concerns they have in this regard.


    The examination will incorporate problem-based and short answer questions relating to the material covered in Part II of the course, specifically Modules 9-10 (Days 3-4). 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 law of contract.

    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 four intensive teaching days, 18 hours of guided online learning run via MyUni, and 114 hours of personal study, including the completion of assessment.

    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 I (Days 1-2)

    Module 8

    International Legal Systems: A Comparative View

    Part II (Days 3-4)

    Module 9

    The Australian Law of Contract (I)

    Part II (Days 3-4)

    Module 10

    The Australian Law of Contract (II)

    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 objectives

    Online quiz




    1, 2, 4, 7

    Statutory Interpretation and Case Analysis Exercise




    1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10

    Take-Home Exam




    1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10.

    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 4 March 2015 via the relevant link on MyUni.
    Due Date: The online quiz must be completed by 10:00am on Friday 6 March 2015.
    Details: The quiz will be available electronically, and will comprise 20 multiple choice and/or short answer questions relating to the material covered in Topics 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 20 March 2015 on MyUni.
    Due Date: The case analysis and statutory interpretation exercise must be submitted by 5:00pm on Tuesday 11 April 2015.
    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 (Days 1-2). As with all written work in the Law School, papers must comply with The Australian Guide to Legal Citation.

    3. Take Home Examination (60%)

    Release Date: 9:00am on Friday 1 May 2015.
    Due Date: 2:00 pm on Monday 4 May 2015.
    Details: This examination will incorporate problem-based and short answer questions relating to the material covered in Modules 9-10 (Days 3-4). 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 law of contract. 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.

    1. Students must retain a copy of all assignments submitted.
    2. To gain a pass, students must submit each part of the assessment.
    3. All 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: Wherean assignment is submitted after the due date and without an extension, apenalty of 5% of the total mark possible will be  deducted for every 24 hours orpart thereof that it is late, including  each day on a weekend. For example, anessay graded 63% will have 5%  deducted if it is one hour late (for a finalgrade of 58%), 10% if it is  25 hours late etc. This penalty may be increasedwhere 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 or page  limit) 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 coordinator. 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 complywith 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 3weeks of the submission date. Group feedback, together with written, individualfeedback will be provided, from which students can learn in preparation for thefinal take-home examination. The final take-home examination paper will bereturned to students within 4 weeks of the submission date with writtenindividual feedback. Students will be notified by email when assignments areready for collection from the Law School Front Office.
      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 4 weeks of the due date with written feedback.  Assignments will generally be returned from the Law School Front Office.

      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
    • Policies & Guidelines
    • 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.