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Property Law and the City (LAWS90134)

Graduate courseworkPoints: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2018
Subject levelGraduate coursework
Subject codeLAWS90134
Availability(Quotas apply)
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

Property law governs relationships between people with respect to things. Cities combine humans and human endeavour in unparalleled proximity. This subject provides an opportunity for students to consider the connections between the law of property and urban environments. It will prompt students to ask how property law shapes cities and, in turn, how cities shape the law of property. Students will be introduced to a literature that attempts to identify the defining attributes of property, including private, common and state property, and then to a literature that considers the relations between the social institutions of law and of cities. The subject will then turn to several discreet property interests (covenants and strata property) and to expropriation law to examine their operation within the city. Finally, it will use the challenge of homelessness to focus attention on the appropriate regulation of public spaces or common property. Throughout the course, students will be asked to consider the tensions between private and public interests and to evaluate the balance between them. Students will develop research projects on some aspect of property law and the city, and will present their projects to the class in the city.

Intended learning outcomes

At the end of this subject, students should be able to:

  • Describe some of the attempts to provide a definition of property and some of the key debates about the nature of property;
  • Explain some of the connections between the social institution of law and the social organization that is the city;
  • Identify the principal features of covenants;
  • Explain the elements of strata property;
  • Describe the rules governing the taking of private property and some of the different approaches within common law jurisdictions; and
  • Explain the differential impact of the regulation of public space on those with and without private property.

Generic skills

  • Analyzing and critiquing scholarly writing;
  • Participating constructively in group discussion;
  • Devising research problems and identifying appropriate research methodologies;
  • Communicating knowledge and understanding of complex ideas in oral and written forms to defined audiences;
  • Writing clearly and effectively in descriptive, analytical, and critical modes; and
  • Citing legal and other primary and secondary sources in scholarly work.

Last updated: 29 March 2019