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Obligations (LAWS50026)

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

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework Level 5
Subject codeLAWS50026
Semester 1
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This subject builds on skills introduced in the foundation subject Legal Method and Reasoning, both in continuing to develop skills in the close reading and critical analysis of cases and in the interpretation of legislation. The substantive content of the subject considers the nature and foundations of the law of obligations through the study of four categories of private law obligation:

  • Obligations arising from exchange transactions (contracts);
  • The obligation not to mislead or deceive in trade or commerce (misleading conduct);
  • The obligation not to cause harm through inconsistent conduct (estoppel); and
  • The obligation to restore unjust gains (restitution or unjust enrichment).

Topics to be examined in detail will include:

  • The nature of private law obligations and the relationship between obligations and property;
  • The nature and foundations of contractual obligations;
  • The formation of contracts (the requirements of agreement, consideration, intention to create legal relations, certainty and capacity);
  • Formalities and the creation of equitable interests in property;
  • The doctrine of privity (by whom and against whom contractual obligations are enforceable);
  • The statutory wrong of misleading or deceptive conduct in trade or commerce;
  • The principles of estoppel (the nature of equity, equitable and common law estoppel and the creation of property interests by way of estoppel); and
  • The law of unjust enrichment (the nature of the law of restitution, money claims, claims in respect of services and defences).

Intended learning outcomes

The purpose of this subject is to instill the technical skills and foundational substantive knowledge required for the development of an advanced and integrated understanding of four categories of private law obligation, and their interconnections and disjunctions, through analysis of cases, statutes and scholarly writing and through participation in class discussion. In this way the subject establishes the critical foundations for further specialised study in private law obligations. It is expected that on completion of the subject students will have developed an integrated understanding of the nature and structure of the law of obligations and be able to:

  • Critically analyse and evaluate the basis of decisions recognising or denying private law obligations;
  • Identify relevant principles in cases and statutes and apply those principles to particular fact situations to reach well-reasoned conclusions about the rights and obligations of the parties in those fact situations;
  • Develop creative, sophisticated and well-founded arguments as to ways in which the relevant principles could be applied to novel fact situations; and
  • Critically analyse and evaluate relevant legal and equitable principles and statutory provisions and analyse particular problems from a range of theoretical or comparative perspectives.

Generic skills

On completion of the subject, students will have developed the following integrated cognitive, technical and creative skills:

  • The capacity for close reading and critical analysis of a range of sources;
  • The capacity for critical, independent and creative thought and reflection on the role and functioning of the law of obligations;
  • The capacity to think across boundaries of private law subjects and to appreciate the need for and consequences of integrated legal knowledge;
  • An approach to problem solving that is both well-founded in existing legal methodology and thinking, and is sufficiently creative to allow for the existing boundaries to be pushed;
  • The capacity to communicate appropriately and in a convincing manner, both orally and in writing to defined audiences; and
  • Attitudes towards knowledge that include valuing truth, openness to new ideas and ethics associated with knowledge creation and usage.

Eligibility and requirements


Successful completion of the below subject:

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

  • 1,500 word take-home hypothetical exercise to be completed in pairs (30%);
  • Supervised 2 hour open book examination during scheduled examination period (70%).

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

Dates & times

  • Semester 1
    Principal coordinatorWayne Jocic
    Mode of deliveryOn Campus — Parkville
    Contact hours48 hours
    Total time commitment144 hours
    Teaching period 4 March 2019 to 2 June 2019
    Last self-enrol date15 March 2019
    Census date31 March 2019
    Last date to withdraw without fail10 May 2019
    Assessment period ends28 June 2019

    Semester 1 contact information

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

Further information

  • Texts

    Prescribed texts

    • Paterson, Robertson and Duke, Contract: Cases and Materials (Lawbook Co/Thomson Reuters, 13th ed, 2016)
    • Specialist printed materials will also be made available from the Melbourne Law School.
  • 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.

  • Available to Study Abroad and/or Study Exchange Students

    This subject is available to students studying at the University from eligible overseas institutions on exchange and study abroad. Students are required to satisfy any listed requirements, such as pre- and co-requisites, for enrolment in the subject.

Last updated: 27 July 2019