Fundamentals of the Common Law - Int

Subject LAWS70256 (2014)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2014.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 7 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2014.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: The total class time is between 24 and 26 hours.
Total Time Commitment: Not available

Students who are required to undertake this subject are advised to undertake it as early as possible in their course.

Students who have a degree in law from, or are admitted to practise in, a common law jurisdiction are not permitted to enrol in this subject except with the permission of the Associate Dean Melbourne Law Masters.

Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:

Applicants without legal qualifications should note that subjects are offered in the discipline of law at an advanced graduate level. While every effort will be made to meet the needs of students trained in other fields, concessions will not be made in the general level of instruction or assessment. Most subjects assume the knowledge usually acquired in a degree in law (LLB, JD or equivalent). Applicants should note that admission to some subjects in the Melbourne Law Masters will be dependent upon the individual applicant’s educational background and professional experience.

Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support:


For more information, contact the Melbourne Law Masters office.

Phone: +61 3 8344 6190

Subject Overview:

The common law forms one of the two principal systems of Western law that, through colonisation, have spread throughout the world. The common law’s understanding of the nature of law, its approach to the resolution of disputes and its institutions have all had a profound effect on the development not only of the societies in the countries in which it applies, but also of international law and practice. This subject introduces the common law, at an advanced level, to graduates in disciplines other than law and to law graduates of non-common law jurisdictions. Adopting a historical, comparative and jurisprudential approach, the subject studies the major rules, principles and values of the common law that are likely to enhance an understanding of the other subjects that students will undertake in the Melbourne Law Masters. The subject also aims to develop skills in legal analysis, research and writing.

This subject provides an examination of the history, principal legal concepts and institutions of the common law. Topics will be chosen with a view to providing a basis of knowledge and understanding for areas of law covered elsewhere in the Melbourne Law Masters.

Principal topics will include:

  • Evolution of the common law, the division between law and equity, theories of law, basic concepts, and values and assumptions
  • Sources of law in common law systems
  • Institutions and procedures of the common law
  • Substantive principles of the common law
  • The interpretation of statutes.
Learning Outcomes:

A student who has successfully completed this subject should:

  • Have a sound general understanding of the history, principles, legal concepts and institutions of the common law
  • Understand the principal points of similarity and difference between common law and civil law systems
  • Be aware of the tendencies of the main legal systems to borrow from each other and understand the principal reasons for this
  • Have developed skills in legal analysis, research and writing.

Intensive classes

  • Research assignment (100%)
    • Semester 1: 28 May
    • Semester 2: 29 October

Semester-length classes

  • Case presentation (during class) (10%)
  • Legal writing exercise (10%)
    • Semester 1: 31 March
    • Semester 2: 25 August
  • Research assignment (80%)
    • Semester 1: 11 June
    • Semester 2: 12 November
Prescribed Texts:

Core subject materials will be provided free of charge to all students. Some subjects require further texts to be purchased. Details regarding any prescribed texts will be provided prior to the commencement of the subject.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Links to further information:

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