LAW 7177 - Introduction to Australian Law

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2020

This subject is a foundation subject for law postgraduate subjects taken in the Master of Business Law, Master of Comparative Law, 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, and terms); - performance and discharge of obligations (performance, breach, frustration, variation and discharge by agreement); and - remedies (enforcement and compensation)

  • 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 N
    Incompatible LAW 7157
    Restrictions Not Available for Law graduates
    Course Description This subject is a foundation subject for law postgraduate subjects taken in the Master of Business Law, Master of Comparative Law, 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, and terms);
    - performance and discharge of obligations (performance, breach, frustration, variation and discharge by agreement); and
    - remedies (enforcement and compensation)
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Stacey Henderson

    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 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 audience.
    4. Develop case reading and analysis skills essential for legal research.
    5. Conduct and analyse legal research, and write advice on the basis of that research.
    6. 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.
    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 will be made available 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 (4th ed, Melbourne University Law Review Association Inc, 2019). Soft copy available at

    Stewart, Swain and Fairweather, Contract Law: Principles and Context (Cambridge University Press, 2019)

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

    JW Carter, Carter’s Guide to Australian Contract Law, (LexisNexis Butterworths, 3rd ed, 2015)

    Recommended reference texts

    Patrick Parkinson, Tradition and Change in Australian Law (Lawbook Co, 5th ed, 2012)

    Robin Creyke et al, Laying Down the Law (LexisNexis, 10th ed, 2017)

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

    Gooley et al, Principles of Australian Contract Law (LexisNexis Butterworths, 4th ed, 2017)

    N Sneddon, R Bigwood and M Ellinghaus, Cheshire and Fifoot Law of Contract (LexisNexis Butterworths, 11th Australian ed, 2017)

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

    Michelle Sanson and Thalia Anthony, Connecting with Law (Oxford University Press, 4th ed, 2018)

    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, 7th ed, 2018)
    Online Learning
    In addition to the use of MyUni as outlined in ‘Learning and Teaching Modes’ below, MyUni will be used to post announcements, post additional lecture materials (including slides) 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
    This course will be taught through a combination of online and face-to-face teaching components.  Students'
    attendance at both teaching components (Part I and II) is compulsory.


    Each face-to-face teaching day will run from 9am to 4pm, with breaks for morning tea and lunch. Modules 5 and 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 course will reconvene and conclude with two further days of face-to-face teaching.  This component will cover Modules 9-14, which consider the Australian Contract Law in 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 contract law assignment. Students will also be given the opportunity to review the material covered in the course and raise any questions or concerns.


    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 approximately 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, 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
    Module Course stage Topic
    1 Online Legal Theory and the Concept of ‘Law’
    2 Online Australian Legal History
    3 Online Federation and the Australian Constitution
    4 Online Parliament and the Lawmaking Process
    5 Part I (Days 1-2) Statutory Interpretation
    6 Part I Courts and the Common Law
    7 Part I The Doctrine of Precedent and Case Analysis
    8 Part II (Days 3-4) Australian Law and Regulation of Business
    9 Part II Formation of Contract
    10 Part II Contractual Content and Interpretation
    11 Part II Termination of Contract
    12 Part II Remedies for Breach of Contract
    13 Part II 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 Task Task Type Due Weighting Length Redeemable Learning Outcome
    Online Academic Honesty Quiz Individual 2pm, 6 March 2020 5% 10 multiple choice questions No 1, 2, 3, 4
    Case Analysis and Statutory Interpretation Exercise Individual 2pm, 20 March 2020 40% 2500 words No 1, 2, 3, 4
    Oral Presentation (in class) Individual 6 April 2020 15% 5 minutes No 1, 2, 3 ,4
    Contract Law Assignment Individual 2pm, 27 April 2020 40% 2500 words No 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
    Due to the current COVID-19 situation modified arrangements have been made to assessments to facilitate remote learning and teaching. Assessment details provided here reflect recent updates.

    To support the changes to teaching, the following revisions to assessment have been made:-

    The in-class presentation which had been scheduled for during class on Monday, 6 April will now be an uploaded presentation, where students can record themselves giving their presentation. The presentation is due to be uploaded by 5pm on Monday, 6 April.

    The due date for the contract law exercise has been extended by 1 week and is now due by 2pm on Monday, 27 April.
    Assessment Related Requirements
    Each piece of assessment is compulsory. None of the assessment is redeemable.
    Assessment Detail
    1. Online Academic Honesty Quiz (5%)

    The quiz will be available electronically, and will comprise 10 multiple choice questions relating to Academic Honesty. Further instructions regarding the Quiz will be provided on MyUni.

    2. Case Analysis and Statutory Interpretation Exercise (40%)

    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.

    3. Oral Presentations (15%)
    Topics for the oral presentations will be distributed on the first day of teaching for the course. This exercise will build upon and assess the knowledge and skills acquired during Modules 1-4. Oral presentations will occur in class on 6 April 2020 and be allocated a five minute period.

    4. Contract Law Assignment (40%)

    The assignment 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 law of contract.
    1. Students must retain a copy of all assignments submitted.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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 2000, an essay graded 63% will have 5% deducted if it is 2001 words long, for a final grade of 58%, 10% if it is 2101 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. 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 (4th edition).
      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.

      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.

      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.