LAW 7177 - Introduction to Australian Law

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 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 2
    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 James Stewart

    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

    No information currently available.


    No information currently available.

    Learning Activities Summary

    No information currently available.

  • 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

    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 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.

    Assessment Detail
    1. Online Quiz (10%)

    Release Date: The online quiz will be available from 5:00pm on Friday 7 August 2015 via the relevant link on MyUni.

    Due Date: The online quiz must be completed by 9:00am on Monday 10 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 14 August 2015 on MyUni.

    Due Date: The case analysis and statutory interpretation exercise must be submitted by 5:00pm on Tuesday 1 September 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 11 September 2015.

    Due Date: 2:00 pm on Monday 14 September 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.

    No information currently available.

    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.