Introducing Law & Justice - LAWS1052

Faculty: Faculty of Law

School: Faculty of Law

Course Outline: See below

Campus: Sydney

Career: Undergraduate

Units of Credit: 6

EFTSL: 0.12500 (more info)

Indicative Contact Hours per Week: 5

Enrolment Requirements:

Currently enrolled in a program in the Faculty of Law.

Excluded: JURD7152

CSS Contribution Charge: 3 (more info)

Tuition Fee: See Tuition Fee Schedule

Further Information: See Class Timetable

View course information for previous years.


This course introduces students to the history and operation of our legal system and the core legal skills necessary for successful study and practice. The course develops students’ understanding of the current structure and historical origins of the Australian legal system, as a dynamic system in the context of Australian society. Through a consideration of the relationships between the principal institutions of government under Australian Constitutions – parliaments, the executive and the courts – it introduces students to key values and constructs underpinning the Australian legal system, including the significance of the idea of the ‘rule of law’. The course explores the nature of the common law, with a particular emphasis on the circumstances of the adoption of the common law in the Australian states and its effect on Indigenous Australians, the processes by which cases are decided by judges, and theoretical frameworks that have been used to analyse law and legal decision making. The roles of judges, practising lawyers and other personnel in the court system are considered, with an emphasis on the need for the development of professional identities and resilience. The core skills of legal research and writing, case analysis and critique, with a focus on intentional torts, and the interpretation and application of statutes are developed throughout the course.

Course Learning Outcomes

The student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate knowledge of the dynamic history and operation of the Australian legal system and its relationship to the broader context;
  2. Engage in critical analysis of the legal system in practice from a range of perspectives;
  3. Identify key elements and engage in critical analysis of common law reasoning and the judgment of a case;
  4. Demonstrate effective legal research and written communication skills by articulating legal concepts and analysis clearly and persuasively and with appropriate citation;
  5. Apply knowledge of intentional torts to hypothetical fact scenarios;
  6. Navigate and apply statutory enactments and extrinsic aids in relation to hypothetical fact scenarios with reference to contemporary approaches to statutory interpretation;
  7. Engage in critical analysis of key historical and contemporary legal institutions, the role of personnel and principles of law and justice; and
  8. Demonstrate effective oral communication skills by scholarly, reflective and respectful discussion.


  • Overview of the Australian Legal System and
  • the place of Australia in Global Law
  • The Courts in Action
  • Common Law Courts: History and Method
  1. The Royal Courts and the development of a Common Law
  2. The Early Lawyers and the Development of Law Reporting
  3. The Doctrine of Precedent and the Development of the Common Law
  4. Introduction to Intentional Torts (Assault, Battery & False Imprisonment)
  5. The doctrine of precedent in action: the rise of negligence
  • Conflicts between King, Parliament and the Common Law
  1. The Idea of Law in the Civil War and the Glorious Revolution
  2. The Development of the Idea of the Rule of Law
  • Introduction to Legal Problem Solving
  • Introduction to statutory interpretation
  • The Impact of Settlement on the Indigenous Inhabitants
  • The Settlement of NSW and the Reception of English law
  • The development of parliamentary democracy and the Federation
  1. The Constitutional Framework of the States and the Move to Independence
  2. A brief introduction to the Commonwealth Constitution
  • Precedent and Change
  1. Independent Attitudes, Race and Justice
  2. Theories of Judicial Decision Making and the Doctrine of Precedent
  • The modern lawyer’s role in the rule of law
  1. The lawyer’s identity as a professional
  2. The resilient lawyer
  • Classification in Australian Law
  1. The Public/Private Distinction and the Role of Public Policy
  2. The Modern Distinction between Law and Equity


  • Class participation 20%
  • Court observation assignment 10%
  • Extended case note: 30%
  • Examination : 40%


  • Vines, P., Law and Justice in Australia: Foundations of the Legal System (3rd ed, Melbourne, Oxford University Press, 2013)
  • Cases and materials compiled by convenors.
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