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70120 Legal Method and Research

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular semester, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

UTS: Law
Credit points: 6 cp

Subject level:

Undergraduate and Postgraduate

Result type: Grade and marks

Requisite(s): 70110 Introduction to Law AND 76006 Public International Law
These requisites may not apply to students in certain courses.
There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.
Anti-requisite(s): 70105 Legal Research AND 70113 Legal Process and History

Handbook description

The aim of this subject is to engage students with legal systems, legal reasoning, legal problem solving and legal research. Firstly, students are introduced to the Australian legal system, legal reasoning and the legal method skills of case analysis, statutory interpretation, legal problem solving and legal research. Legal method skills are fundamental to both the study and practice of law and students are able to develop these skills in a range of contexts. Students are also given opportunities to explore different approaches to legal reasoning and the contentious issue of judicial law-making.

Secondly, students are introduced to and develop a range of legal research skills. Students learn to distinguish between and locate primary and secondary sources of law using a number of library resources. Students also learn to develop research strategies and apply effective methodologies that suit the circumstances of the research tasks. Legal method and research are essential in the study of all subjects in the law program.

Subject objectives

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:

1. understand the Australian Legal System, the Australian court system, jurisdiction and hierarchy; the process of law-making in the Australian legal system including the role of the courts and parliament, the concept of parliamentary sovereignty, the distinction between and the importance of primary and secondary sources of law, the doctrine of precedent; and the principles of statutory interpretation;
2. identify, interpret, analyse and apply primary law in a variety of factual situations;
3. apply legal reasoning and problem solving methodology to resolve legal problems;
4. identify, evaluate and be able to effectively use available, pertinent and appropriate commercial and free legal resources relevant to a given exercise;
5. demonstrate developing spoken communication skills including ability to: articulate coherent argument in class setting, use active and passive listening with positive effect in communication in class setting, develop effective questioning skills in class setting, consistently participate; and demonstrate awareness of non-verbal communication and respect for the contribution of others;
6. demonstrate developing effective written communication skills including ability to: follow plain English principles, proof-read written work to be submitted so that there are no grammatical or typographical errors; and construct coherent argument;
7. demonstrate a capacity to value and promote integrity, truth, accuracy, honesty, ethical behaviour and accountability.

This subject also contributes specifically to the development of the following graduate attributes:

  • Legal Knowledge
    A coherent understanding of fundamental areas of legal knowledge including the Australian legal system, social justice, cultural and international contexts and the principles and values of ethical practice. (1.0)
  • Critical Analysis and Evaluation
    A capacity to think critically, strategically and creatively including an ability to identify and articulate legal issues, apply reasoning and research, engage in critical analysis and make reasoned choices. (3.0)
  • Research skills
    Well-developed cognitive and practical skills necessary to identify, research, evaluate and synthesise relevant factual, legal and policy issues. (4.0)
  • Communication and Collaboration
    Effective and appropriate communication skills including highly effective use of the English language, an ability to inform, analyse, report and persuade using an appropriate medium and message and an ability to respond appropriately. (5.0)

Teaching and learning strategies

Subject Delivery
The subject has 4 classes per week consisting of:

  • 2 x 2 hours seminars
  • 2 x 1.5 hour computer lab

The timetabled activities for this subject can be found on the UTS timetable online at http://timetable.uts.edu.au. Students enrolled in this subject can view their personalised timetabled in My Subject Activities online at https://mysubjects.uts.edu.au.

Lecture Format

As noted in teaching and learning strategies 2 and 3 below, both the legal method and legal research classes are discussion-based – there are no lectures in this subject. For each component you are expected to:

• complete the assigned reading and think about the seminar questions prior to each class; and
• come to class ready, willing and able to participate in class discussion
• come to class prepared to complete the occasional assessment exercises

You should expect your lecturer to ask you questions about the material in each class and you should also expect to participate in small group and class discussions about various topics.

There will be a class participation mark for your work in the Legal Method and Legal Research classes – further details are set out below.

Tutorial Format and Expectation of Student Participation

As noted in teaching and learning strategies 2 and 3, both the legal method and the legal research classes are discussion-based – there are no lectures in this subject. For each component you are expected to:

• complete the assigned reading and think about the seminar questions prior to each class; and
• come to class ready, willing and able to participate in class discussion;
• come to class prepared to complete the occasional assessment exercises

You should expect your seminar leader to ask you questions about the material in each class and you should also expect to participate in small group and class discussions about various topics.

There will be a class participation mark for your work in class – further details are set out below.


Teaching and Learning Strategies
Strategy 1
This subject will be run in small groups (estimated that there be no more than 30 in a class). There will be a total of four classes per week, including both legal research and legal method elements.
You MUST bring your prescribed textbook and this outline to each and every class.
For each class you should consult the class guide in this outline to ascertain the scheduled topics, the prescribed reading and questions to be completed.
This is designed to meet all objectives.


Strategy 2
The legal method component: the class will be conducted in a seminar-style which means that it is discussion based. It is not a lecture. Prior to each class, you are expected to complete the reading as indicated (in the reading list and more fully in the Seminar Guide) and prepare answers to set questions. The seminar questions are designed to encourage you to test your understanding of the materials that you have read. You should come to class ready to participate in an informed discussion on the relevant topic.
The teaching and learning strategies implemented will seek to give you more control over your learning and encourage you to develop the capacity for independent learning. The learning environment in the seminars is intended to be lively, intellectually challenging, interesting and supportive. In class you can expect to be given opportunities to ask questions and to discuss any issues arising from the topic that you do not understand or that you are interested in with your seminar leader and fellow students.
This is designed to meet objectives 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 and 7.


Strategy 3
The legal research component: practical classes will be conducted in the computer labs and the library. Again note that this class will be discussion based – it is not a lecture. The learning environment in the seminars is intended to be lively, intellectually challenging, interesting and supportive. In class you can expect to be given opportunities to ask questions and to discuss any issues arising from the topic that you do not understand or that you are interested in with your seminar leader and fellow students. Make sure you prepare answers to the discussion questions and keep up with the reading.
This is designed to meet objectives 2, 4, 6 and 7.


Strategy 4
The subject will be supported by UTS Online. It is essential that you are able to access the web page and that you do so regularly. All notices and relevant information will be posted relating to the web page as required from time to time during the semester. You should consult the web page regularly to ensure that you are fully informed.
This is designed to meet all objectives.


Strategy 5
You will frequently work in class in pairs or small groups so as to appreciate what teamwork involves and the benefits of collaborative learning.
This is designed to meet objective 5.

Content

LEGAL METHOD

Topic 1 Introduction/The Nature of a Legal Dispute
Topic 2 Overview of the Australian Legal System
Topic 3 The Court System – Jurisdiction, hierarchy, Case Law
Topic 4 Case law: Analysing a Case and the Doctrine of Precedent
Topic 5 Case Law: Judicial decision-making and Legal Reasoning
Topic 6 Legal Writing and Legal Problem Solving
Topic 7 Legislation: Approaches and Aids to Statutory Interpretation
Topic 8 Legislation: Contextual Interpretation, Presumptions and Statutory Obligations
Topic 9 Legislation: statutory interpretation problem
Topic 10 Revision

LEGAL RESEARCH

Topic 1 Introduction to Research Process
Topic 2 Introduction to Electronic Resources Pt 1
Topic 3 Case Reporting and Case Citation
Topic 4 Case Notes
Topic 5 Case Citators
Topic 6 Research Strategies—secondary sources
Topic 7 Legislative Process
Topic 8 Searching for and Updating Legislation
Topic 9 Researching International Materials
Topic 10 Research Strategy model
Topic 11 Research strategy exercise and revision

Assessment

Assessment task 1: Class participation

Objective(s):

This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

This task contributes specifically to the development of the following graduate attributes:

1.0, 3.0, 4.0 and 5.0

Weight: 20
Criteria:

Criteria for assessment of class participation will be included in the subject learning guide.

Assessment task 2: Assignment

Objective(s):

This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 2, 3, 4 and 6

This task contributes specifically to the development of the following graduate attributes:

1.0, 4.0 and 5.0

Weight: 30
Length:

90 mins exam plus 10 minutes reading time.

Assessment task 3: Final Exam

Objective(s):

This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 2, 3 and 6

This task contributes specifically to the development of the following graduate attributes:

1.0, 3.0 and 5.0

Weight: 50
Length: 2 hours + 10 mins reading time
Criteria:

Details will be published seperately

Required texts

  • James & Field The New Lawyer (1st Ed) Note that the text is available as an e-book. However note you will not be able to take any electronic devices into an open book exam.
  • There is also a collection of course readings which are available from the Haymarket Union Shop.
  • Other prescribed readings are attached to the learning guide which will be distributed separately.
  • Any one of the following law dictionaries:
      • Australian Law Dictionary Oxford (2nd Ed 2013).
      • Concise Australian Legal Dictionary LexisNexis Butterworths (4th ed 2010)
      • Osborn′s Concise Law Dictionary Sweet & Maxwell (11th ed 2009)

Recommended texts

  • Asprey, M, Plain Language for Lawyers (3rd ed, 2003)
  • Bott, B, Cowley, J and Falconer, L, Nemes and Coss’ Effective Legal Research (3rd ed, 2007)
  • Chisholm, R and Nettheim, G, Understanding Law (6th ed, 2002)
  • Foster, S, How to Write Better Law Essays, (2007)
  • Haigh, R, Legal English (2008)
  • Hall and Macken, Legislation and Statutory Interpretation (2nd ed, 2009)
  • Hinchy, R, The Australian Legal System (2008)
  • Hughes, R A, Leane, GWG, Clarke, A, Australian Legal Institutions: Principles, Structure and Organisation (2nd ed, 2003)
  • Hutchinson, T, Researching and Writing in Law (2nd ed, 2006)
  • Laster, K, Law as Culture (2nd ed, 2001)
  • MacAdam, A and Pyke, J, Judicial Reasoning and the Doctrine of Precedent in Australia (1998)
  • Parkinson, P, Tradition and Change in Australian La (3rd ed, 2005)
  • Sanson, Worswick and Anthony, Connecting with Law (2009)
  • S.I. Strong, How to Write Law Essays and Exams (2nd ed 2006)
  • Vines, P, Law & Justice in Australia: Foundations of the Legal System (2nd ed 2009)
  • Watt, R and Johns, F, Concise Legal Research (6th ed, 2009)
  • Wolski, B, Legal Skills: a Practical Guide for Students (2nd ed 2009)
  • Vines, P, Law & Justice in Australia: Foundations of the Legal System (2005)
  • Ellis, E, Principles and Practice of Law (2nd ed, 2009)
  • Statsky, W, Legal Research and Writing: Some Starting Points (5th ed., 1999)
  • Lisa Webley, Legal Writing (2nd ed 2010)

Other resources

Reports, Journals and General References
Australian Guide to Legal Citation (2nd Edition, 2002) http://mulr.law.unimelb.edu.au/files/aglcdl.pdf


Useful Websites


Lecture Recording
Audio or visual recording of classes for this subject is strictly prohibited unless written approval is sought and given in advance by the Subject Coordinator. Approval for audio or visual recording will usually be limited to medical or hardship reasons, and if approved, must be arranged by the student.

Students may only use the audio or visual recording for private study purposes and (to avoid any legal action) permission must be obtained from the Subject Coordinator for any other usage. Given the inter-active nature of classes, any student who does not wish to be audio-taped must advise the Subject Coordinator in advance otherwise permission from students is assumed.


Audio-recordings from AVS
Arrangements may be in place for lectures to be recorded, and recordings made available for purchase from the UTS Audio Visual Services in CM05D.01.01 (at the entrance past the “Art of Food” café) on the Haymarket Campus, Quay Street. Check with your Subject Coordinator if and which arrangement is in place for this subject.

Please also note that no responsibility is taken for the quality or reliability of this recording service and that no Special Consideration applications will be considered in relation to problems experienced by students using this recordinging service. Students may only use these audio-recordings for private student purposes (and to avoid legal action) permission must be obtained from the Subject Coordinator for any other usage.


Recorded Lectures on UTSOnline
Arrangements may be in place for lecture recordings to be made available for download from UTSOnline. Check with your Subject Coordinator if and which arrangement is in place for your subject.
Please also note that no responsibility is taken for the quality or reliability of this recording service and that no Special Consideration applications will be considered in relation to problems experienced by students using this recording service. Students may only use these audio-recordings for private student purposes (and to avoid legal action) permission must be obtained from the Subject Coordinator for any other usage.