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Conceptual Framework Common Law - JURD7442
 Law Books

Faculty: Faculty of Law
School:  Faculty of Law
Course Outline: See below
Campus: Kensington Campus
Career: Postgraduate
Units of Credit: 6
EFTSL: 0.12500 (more info)
Indicative Contact Hours per Week: 4
Enrolment Requirements:
Prerequisites: LAWS1071, LAWS1072, LAWS2381, LAWS2382, LAWS1052, LAWS2150, LAWS1001, LAWS1011 Prerequisites: JURD7171, JURD7172, JURD7281, JURD7282, JURD7152, JURD7250, JURD7101, JURD7111
Excluded: LAWS3142
Fee Band: 3 (more info)
Further Information: See Class Timetable


This course examines the taxonomy of the common law’s system of civil rights. We will examine the categories and concepts used to explain and distinguish the different parts of the law with a view to understanding the practical implications of the major distinctions within the Australian legal system. We will look at the conceptual distinctions between criminal and civil law, between statute and general law, between common law and equity, between property and obligations, between rights and remedies, between and within contract, tort and restitution. The course will focus on the boundaries between the various fields in the law, their history, rationales and practical implications. Primary materials (cases and statutes) will be analysed in light of the various attempts by textbook writers and theorists to categorise them and the determined opposition in some quarters to rational taxonomy.

Recommended Prior Knowledge

The course presupposes general understanding of the major components of the Australian legal system, coupled with a willingness to explore the broader landscape and the practical implications of its various divisions.


The Hon. Keith Mason AC QC, former President of the Court of Appeal of NSW and leading scholar and authority on restitution, equity and common law in Australia."

Course Objectives

Students will be encouraged to identify past and future trends and to see why theories of the structure of law have practical implications, particularly in a litigation context.

Main Topics

  • The significance and limitations of legal taxonomy
  • Legal personality
  • The importance of procedure, pleadings and standing to sue
  • The role of precedent
  • Legal fictions and other illusory categories of reference
  • Law and equity
  • Property and obligations
  • Rights and remedies
  • Contract, its boundaries and divisions
  • Wrongs
  • From quasi-contract to restitution
  • Taxonomical theory


Assessment for this course comprises of three components:

(a) Compulsory class participation 10%

(b) Mid-session assignment 40%

(c) Final examination (take home) 50%

Course Texts

Reading for each class will be identified in a Course Outline of Readings that will be provided progressively in advance.

It is highly recommended that students acquire Andrew Robertson ed, The Law of Obligations: Connections and Boundaries, UCL Press, 2004.

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© The University of New South Wales (CRICOS Provider No.: 00098G), 2004-2011. The information contained in this Handbook is indicative only. While every effort is made to keep this information up-to-date, the University reserves the right to discontinue or vary arrangements, programs and courses at any time without notice and at its discretion. While the University will try to avoid or minimise any inconvenience, changes may also be made to programs, courses and staff after enrolment. The University may also set limits on the number of students in a course.