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Torts (LAWS50025)

Graduate coursework level 5Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2018
Subject levelGraduate coursework Level 5
Subject codeLAWS50025
Availability(Quotas apply)
Semester 1
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This subject explores a core area of private law - the law of torts. It builds upon skills introduced in the foundational subject, Legal Method and Reasoning, both with respect to the reading of cases and the interpretation of legislation. In substantive terms, the focus will be on a core area within the law of torts, negligence law. While traditionally a domain of the common law, the contemporary law of torts, and especially negligence, has increasingly received a great deal of attention from the legislature. This provides an exciting and challenging opportunity to investigate in considerable detail the interaction (and, at times, tensions) between judge-made and statute law. In addressing this interaction, close attention will be paid to the various (and, at times, competing) functions and objectives of tort law.

Topics considered in this subject (with varying degrees of depth) include:

  • Features of tort law: classifications and definitions;
  • Aims of tort law: the changing nature of tort law (including the Ipp Panel ‘reforms’ and human rights norms (where relevant);
  • Causes of action: trespass to land (intentional tort);
  • Cause of action: the tort of private nuisance;
  • Cause of action: the tort of negligence (carelessness): in detail;
  • Causes of action: assault and battery (intentional torts);
  • Remedies: damages assessment;
  • Statute-based strict liability: the Australian Consumer Law and the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) (time permitting); and
  • State-based compensation schemes (referred to throughout).

Intended learning outcomes

The aim of this subject is to provide students with the foundations for an advanced and integrated understanding of the law of torts, with a particular emphasis on negligence law.

It is expected that on completion of this subject students should have specialist cognitive and technical skills to independently:

  • Research and identify relevant principles in statutes and cases;
  • Apply those principles to complex fact situations in order to reach well-reasoned conclusions about the rights and obligations of the various parties;
  • Develop creative and well-founded arguments in which the relevant principles could be applied to novel fact situations and research questions;
  • Critically analyse and evaluate various tort doctrines or principles from a range of perspectives;
  • Critically analyse and evaluate the effectiveness of tort law in fulfilling its aims; and
  • Communicate analysis, arguments and conclusions concerning tort law clearly and effectively in written form, incorporating appropriate citation practices.

Generic skills

On completion of the subject, students should have developed the cognitive, technical and creative skills to demonstrate:

  • An approach to problem solving that is both well founded in established legal thinking and sufficiently creative to allow for existing boundaries to be tested and pushed;
  • The ability to generate and evaluate sophisticated ideas about the role and functioning of tort law; and
  • The ability to analyse and explain how compensation ideals affect legal thinking and practice in tort law.

Eligibility and requirements


Successful completion of all the below subjects:

Code Name Teaching period Credit Points
LAWS50023 Legal Method and Reasoning
Summer Term



Non-allowed subjects


Core participation requirements

The University of Melbourne is committed to providing students with reasonable adjustments to assessment and participation under the Disability Standards for Education (2005), and the Assessment and Results Policy (MPF1326). Students are expected to meet the core participation requirements for their course. These can be viewed under Entry and Participation Requirements for the course outlines in the Handbook.

Further details on how to seek academic adjustments can be found on the Student Equity and Disability Support website: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/student-equity/home


Additional details

Semester 1

  • 2,000 word written exercise - (30%);
  • Supervised 2-hour (open book) examination - during main examination period (70%).


  • 2,000 word written exercise - (30%);
  • Supervised 2-hour (open book) examination – within two weeks of the last day of class (70%).

The due date of the above assessment will be available to students via the Assessment Schedule on the LMS Community.

Quotas apply to this subject

Dates & times

  • Semester 1
    Principal coordinatorMartin Vranken
    Mode of deliveryOn Campus — Parkville
    Contact hours48 hours
    Total time commitment144 hours
    Teaching period26 February 2018 to 27 May 2018
    Last self-enrol date 9 March 2018
    Census date31 March 2018
    Last date to withdraw without fail 4 May 2018
    Assessment period ends22 June 2018

    Semester 1 contact information

    Semester 1 subject coordinators:

    • Associate Professor Martin Vranken
    • Brad Jessup

    Email: law-aso@unimelb.edu.au
    Phone: +61 3 8344 4475
    Website: law.unimelb.edu.au

  • November
    Principal coordinatorEric Descheemaeker
    Mode of deliveryOn Campus — Parkville
    Contact hours48 hours
    Total time commitment144 hours
    Pre teaching start date 5 November 2018
    Pre teaching requirementsStudents are expected to access and review the Reading Guide that will be available from the LMS subject page and the subject materials provided by the subject coordinator, which will be available from Melbourne Law School. Refer to the Reading Guide for confirmation of which resources need to be read and what other preparation is required before the teaching period commences.
    Teaching period19 November 2018 to 10 December 2018
    Last self-enrol date30 March 2018
    Census date23 November 2018
    Last date to withdraw without fail21 December 2018
    Assessment period ends19 January 2019

    November contact information

    Email: law-aso@unimelb.edu.au

    Phone: +61 3 8344 4475
    Website: law.unimelb.edu.au

Additional delivery details

November offering

November Torts is quota restricted to 60 students.

Once the "Last date to Self-Enrol" has past, students can apply for November Torts by completing an Enrolment Variation form.

Please note - this offering is only available to students who commenced prior to 2018.

Further information

  • Texts

    Prescribed texts

    • Harold Luntz et al, Torts: Cases and Commentary (LexisNexis Butterworths, 8th ed, 2017);
    • Wrongs Act 1958 (Vic), available at www.legislation.vic.gov.au;
    • Specialist printed material will also be made available from the Melbourne Law School.

    Recommended texts and other resources

    Semester 1 only:

    • Martin Davies and Ian Malkin, Torts (LexisNexis Butterworths, Latest edition).
  • Available through the Community Access Program

    About the Community Access Program (CAP)

    This subject is available through the Community Access Program (also called Single Subject Studies) which allows you to enrol in single subjects offered by the University of Melbourne, without the commitment required to complete a whole degree.

    Entry requirements including prerequisites may apply. Please refer to the CAP applications page for further information.

    Additional information for this subject

    If required, please contact law-admissions@unimelb.edu.au for subject coordinator approval.

Last updated: 29 March 2019