Qut Law School Assignment Acknowledgement


This unit is designed to transition higher degree students from international and non-legal backgrounds into the application of law at a postgraduate level. The unit promotes a deep understanding of the way in which the main principles and concepts of the common law system operate in the contemporary context, comparing and contrasting them with other legal systems. It contextualises issues pertaining to the common law system and its operations and provides students with a specialised skills in doctrinal legal research and scholarly legal writing.


The unit is core for all students completing the Graduate Certificate in Applied Law (LW76) and the Master of Applied Law (LW75). It is also core for international students completing the Master of Laws (LW71) and the Graduate Certificate in Law (LW72). This unit will assist students' transition into these courses by developing a solid foundation in the Australian common law system, with particular emphasis on the Australian legal and constitutional framework. Students in this unit will also acquire skills in scholarly legal writing and doctrinal research, which are necessary to the application of law.

The primary aim of this unit is to prepare students for further study in the Australian law context by examining the development and application of the common law system, with particular emphasis on the Australian legal and constitutional framework, and to provide a broad comparison with other legal systems. The unit presents the key conceptual features of the Australian common law system, and examines certain areas of law typical in a common law system, which may include private law such as contracts, equity, and torts. Students in this unit will also acquire skills in doctrinal legal research, including retrieval of electronic legal information and Australian legal citation principles.

Learning outcomes

At the conclusion of the study of this unit, you will be able to:

1. critically analyse and evaluate contemporary issues concerning the development or operation of Australian legal systems and frameworks (Course Learning Outcomes 1.1, 1.3, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3)
2. demonstrate advanced knowledge and understanding of the Australian common law system in comparison with other legal systems, including consideration of the social and intercultural context in which the Australian legal system operates and taking into account Indigenous perspectives (CLOs 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 2.1, 5.2)
3. communicate key concepts pertaining to the common law system and the Australian constitutional framework to diverse audiences, including specialists in a variety of disciplines (CLOs 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3)
4. plan,execute and evaluate a research-based assignment on contemporary issues in the common law system, including, where appropriate, a comparison with other legal systems (CLOs 1.3, 2.4, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3)
5. apply advanced legal academic literacies and research skills, including advanced legal information retrieval skills relevant to the doctrinal research methodology and scholarly legal writing skills (CLOs 3.3, 5.1), and
6. develop skills in effective teamwork (CLO 5.2).


Module 1 - The Australian legal system
· The Australian constitutional and legal framework
· The Australian legal system in comparison with other systems, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and comparative perspectives
· The separation of powers and the importance of the rule of law
· The court structure and role of case law
· The role of statutory law and principles of statutory interpretation

Module 2 - Writing within an Australian legal system
· Doctrinal research and advanced legal information retrieval
· Legal writing at a scholarly level, including Australian legal citation principles

Module 3 - Key areas of Australian Law, which may include:
· key features of Australian private law - for example, contract law, equity and tort law
· key features of Australian public law - for example, administrative law

Approaches to teaching and learning

Students will study this unit internally and externally. Internal classes will consist of weekly seminars and short intensive sessions, which will be interactive, and based on the application of legal principles and skills to problem-based exercises. External students will be provided with online material in lieu of the weekly seminars and intensive sessions. You will also be provided with additional blended learning materials, pedagogic activities and readings through the Blackboard site.

Assessment items

Name#1: Critique & info retrieval
DescriptionWritten Critique and Information Retrieval: You are required to complete a 1500-word written paper, comparing and critiquing the Australian legal system to other legal systems in a group of three or four students. You will be provided with a topic for this critique. Your group's written paper will demonstrate an advanced knowledge of the Australian legal system and legal writing skills. This item includes assessment of your teamwork skills. You will reflect on your own teamwork skills and the skills of the other members of your group.
Due dateWeek 5
Internal or externalBoth
Group or individualGroup
Relates to learning outcomes1, 2, 3, 5 and 6
Name#2: Research/lit review
DescriptionResearch Methodology and Literature Review: You are required to submit a 1000 to 1500-word research methodology and literature review on an allocated research topic that will be applied in the final research paper. In preparing your literature review, you will be required to demonstrate your advanced Australian legal information retrieval skills by completing a series of focused legal research questions. Your research methodolgy will provide a discussion of your overall research approach, including identification of legal and other information required for your research. Your literature review will critically analyse and synthesise the law relevant to the research topic.
Due dateWeek 8
Internal or externalBoth
Group or individualIndividual
Relates to learning outcomes1, 4 and 5
Name#3: Research paper
DescriptionResearch Paper: You will complete a 4,000-word research paper on an allocated research topic, taking into account the feedback provided to you in relation to the methodology. You will critically evaluate the law major legal issues on the topic, considering the wider theoretical, social, commercial and intercultural considerations that impact the research topic. Your paper should communicate the results of your research in a manner to specialist and non-specialist audiences in a scholarly legal manner that complies with Australian legal citation standard principles.
Due date1st wk after sem end
Internal or externalBoth
Group or individualIndividual
Relates to learning outcomes1-5

Academic integrity

QUT is committed to maintaining high academic standards to protect the value of its qualifications. To assist you in assuring the academic integrity of your assessment you are encouraged to make use of the support materials and services available to help you consider and check your assessment items. Important information about the university's approach to academic integrity of assessment is on your unit Blackboard site.

A breach of academic integrity is regarded as Student Misconduct and can lead to the imposition of penalties.

Resource materials

There is no prescribed text for this unit.

Recommended references:
(You do not need to purchase these books; they are usually available in the library.)

Simon Chesterman and Clare Rhoden, Studying Law at University: Everything You Need to Know (Allen and Unwin, 2nd ed, 2005)
Catriona Cook, Robin Creyke, Robert Geddes, David Hamer and Trustan Taylor, Laying Down the Law (LexisNexis Butterworths, 9th ed, 2015)
R Finkelstein, P Butt, R Howie and D Hamer, LexisNexis Concise Australian Legal Dictionary (LexisNexis Butterworths, 5th ed, 2015)
Russell Hinchy,The Australian Legal System: History and Institutions (Thomson Reuters, 2nd ed, 2015)
KE Lindgren, Vermeesch and Lindgren's Business Law of Australia (LexisNexis Butterworths, 12th ed, 2011)
Alistair MacAdam and TM Smith, Statutes - Rules and Examples (Butterworths, 3rd ed, 1993)
Alistair MacAdam and John Pyke, Judicial Reasoning and the Doctrine of Precedent in Australia (Butterworths,1998)
Trischa Mann, Australian Law Dictionary (Oxford University Press, 2nd ed, 2013)
DC Pearce and RS Geddes, Statutory Interpretation in Australia (LexisNexis Butterworths, 8th ed, 2014)
John Pyke and Alistair MacAdam (eds), Legal Institutions and Method (LexisNexis Butterworths, 4th ed, 2010)
Michelle Sanson and Thalia Anthony, Connecting with Law (Oxford University Press, 3rd ed, 2014)
Amanda Stickley, Australian Torts Law (Lexisnexis Butterworths, 4th ed, 2016)
Prue Vines, Law and Justice in Australia: Foundations of the Legal System (Oxford University Press, 3rd ed, 2013)
Lindy Willmott, Sharon Christensen, Des Butler and Bill Dixon, Contract Law (Oxford University Press, 4th ed, 2013)

Risk assessment statement

There are no out-of-the-ordinary risks associated with this unit.

This is a transcript of the video Referencing: Formatting for Assignments.


[Caption] QUT Library. Referencing: Formatting for Assignments.

Once you have completed your research and kept the details of your sources (author, date, title) you will then need to complete the referencing of your sources in your assignments.

At QUT there are four referencing styles: Numbered, Law, APA and Harvard. The official guide to referencing in these styles is called cite|write. [It's made up of a booklet and...] style guides can be found on the cite|write website.

Most students will use APA or Harvard. Your lecturer or tutor will tell you what style to use. You can also usually find out the required style on Blackboard by checking the unit outline or week one document.

Both APA and Harvard are author date systems. This is because you use the in text citation of the author's last name and date to find the full reference in the reference list.

There are a few different ways you can cite in text. [An example of citing at the end of the sentence is shown: "... can be an important part of library collections for undergraduates (Brown, 2012, p. 40)."] For example, you may like to use the author's name as part of the sentence. You may also need to use a page number to show exactly where you got your information.

The reference list is ordered alphabetically by the author's family name.

[The previous example is shown linking to its entry in the reference list: "Brown, J. (2012). The ebook I used. [EBL version]. Retrieved...".

The numbered system works by the same general principle but instead uses a number in the text of your essay to identify the full reference in the reference list.

[An example is shown: "...fostering the learning of undergraduates4."]

The reference list reflects the order in which the sources were cited in your essay (numerical order).

[The previous example is shown linking to its entry in the reference list: "[4] Black, A, Bally, SP. Teaching first year referencing...".]

There are a few different ways of using your sources in your writing.

Your in text citation can be a direct, word for word quote from a source [an APA/Harvard example of a direct quote is shown: '"ebooks offer increased equity of use and thus, can be an important part of library collections for undergraduates" (Brown, 2012, p. 40).'], an indirect paraphrasing of an author's idea using your own words [an APA/Harvard example of indirect paraphrasing is shown: "Green (2012, p. 75) points out that for many students, it is hard to tell the difference between a suitable and an unsuitable source."], or a summary of an author's complete argument. [an APA/Harvard example of a summary is shown: "...before deciding to use them (Green, 2012; Black..."].

It is important to get this part right so you are referencing fairly and accurately.

Once you have all the details of your sources all you need to do is arrange them according to the style you are expected to use. While these styles use different punctuation and formatting they generally use the same details to describe the source. The trick is to be organised and have all the details you need ready.

Let's now look at a few examples of how the details of sources are formatted in the reference list.

Starting with a full reference for a book. For this reference we will use APA style. The author's name is broken down into last name then first name initial. The title is italicised. All you need to do is follow the template swapping the details of your source and noting what punctuation is used. [We are shown an example book, and see the template: "last name, initial. (date). title. place of publication: publisher." replaced by "Green, S.P. (2012). A book that I used. Brisbane: Book Publishers Press."]

An ebook is similar. Let's use Harvard style this time. The author is broken down into last name followed by first name. The title is also italicised. date used will be the date you accessed the source. [We are shown an example ebook, and see the template: "last name, first name. date. title. place of publication: publisher. Accessed date used. URL." replaced by "Green, Steven. 2012. A book that I used. Brisbane: Book Publishers Press. Accessed May 5, 2013. http://www.the_ebook's_url.com."]

A book chapter is a little more complex. Note that there are two authors: the chapter author, and the editor. The chapter author is listed first. There are also two titles (chapter title and book title). It is the title of the book which is italicised. This example uses APA. [We are shown an example book chapter, and see the template: "chapter author last name, initial. (date). chapter title. In book author initial. last name (Ed.), book title. (pp. chapter page numbers). place of publication: publisher. replaced with "White, J.M. (2012). A chapter that I read. In S.P. Green (Ed.), A book that I used. (pp. 60-65). Brisbane: Book Publishers Press."]

Here's a journal article in Harvard style. Note that there are also two titles for journals. The article title and the journal titles. The journal title is italicised. Details specific to a journal article include the volume, the issue and the DOI so that the specific journal can be found. [We are shown an example journal article, and see the template: "last name, first name. date of publication. "title of article". journal title volume number (issue number): page numbers. Accessed date used. Doi: full digital object identifier." replaced by "Green, Aldo. 2012. "Teaching first year referencing." Journal of Information Usage 30 (3): 65-66. Accessed May 5, 2013. doi:10.52011/JIU.2012.12."]

Finally a website in APA. Most often, a website fit for academic use will have a corporate author - a group or organisation responsible for the content. Note that when you are referencing a website the title is not italicised. [We are shown an example website, and see the template: "author. (date of publication). Title. Retrieved from URL" replaced with "Department of Referencing Skills. (2012). Referencing and the web. Retrieved from www.drs.gov.au/refweb.html"]

Before your first assignment, make sure you are familiar with the basic rules of referencing in the cite|write booklet and the particular formatting used in your referencing style on the cite|write website.

[Caption] For more visit QUT Library ©2012 CRICOS No. 00213J

[Caption: Free royalty free music by Josh Woodward "Lafayette" www.joshwoodward.com

[End of video]

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