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Employment Contract Law (LAWS70200)

Graduate coursework level 7Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework Level 7
Subject codeLAWS70200
Availability(Quotas apply)
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

Employment contracts have been a major source of litigation in recent years, with some cases leading to very large payouts. This subject examines the evolving law of employment contracts, and other related kinds of personal work contracts. Drawing on recent cases as well as leading articles by Australian and international scholars, the lecturers consider several key questions. These include determining and varying contract terms, employer and employee duties, non-compete clauses, termination and damages. The subject also looks at the interaction between employment contracts and major statutes, such as the Australian Consumer Law and the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). The subject seeks to combine discussions of the practical realities of contracting with a broader analysis of the underlying assumptions in current law.

Principal topics include:

  • The scope of employment regulation: which work relationships are covered?
  • The regulation of independent contracting, such as agency relationships
  • The content of the employment contract: express terms
  • The content of the employment contract: implied terms
  • Non-compete clauses and restraint of trade
  • Employment, the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) and estoppel
  • Variation and flexibility in the employment contract
  • Termination and remedies at common law
  • The relationship between contracts, awards and agreements.

Intended learning outcomes

A student who has successfully completed this subject will:

  • Have an advanced and integrated understanding of the legal principles relevant to the individual employment relationship, including recent developments in this field of law and practice
  • Be able to critically examine, analyse, interpret and assess the effectiveness of these legal rules
  • Be an engaged participant in debate regarding emerging and contemporary issues in the field, such as recruitment; non-compete obligations; the interaction between express and implied contractual terms; the relationship between policies and employment contracts and the relationship between federal legislation (the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) and the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth)) and employment contracts
  • Have a sophisticated appreciation of judicial decision-making in this field, and the factors and processes driving parliamentary approaches to the individual employment relationship
  • Have an advanced understanding of situations in which the regulation of the individual employment relationship is relevant in work relationships and management practices
  • Have a detailed understanding of the development of Australian employment contract law in an international context
  • Have the cognitive and technical skills to generate critical and creative ideas relating to the regulation of the employment relationship, and to critically evaluate existing legal theories, principles and concepts with creativity and autonomy
  • Have the cognitive and technical skills to independently examine, research and analyse existing and emerging legal issues relating to employment relationships
  • Have the communication skills to clearly articulate and convey complex information regarding the employment relationship to relevant specialist and non-specialist audiences
  • Be able to demonstrate autonomy, expert judgment and responsibility as a practitioner and learner in the field of the individual employment relationship.

Eligibility and requirements





Non-allowed subjects


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.

Core participation requirements

The Melbourne Law Masters welcomes applications from students with disabilities. The inherent academic requirements for study in the Melbourne Law Masters are:

  • The ability to attend a minimum of 75% of classes and actively engage in the analysis and critique of complex materials and debate;
  • The ability to read, analyse and comprehend complex written legal materials and complex interdisciplinary materials;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate in writing a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and to critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate orally a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to work independently and as a part of a group;
  • The ability to present orally and in writing legal analysis to a professional standard.

Students who feel their disability will inhibit them from meeting these inherent academic requirements are encouraged to contact Student Equity and Disability Support.


Additional details

  • Take-home examination (5,000 - 6,000 words) (100%) (10 - 13 January 2020)
  • Research paper (8,000 - 10,000 words) (100%) (5 February 2020) on a topic approved by the subject coordinator

A minimum of 75% attendance is a hurdle requirement.

Quotas apply to this subject

Dates & times

  • November
    Principal coordinatorSean Cooney
    Mode of deliveryOn Campus — Parkville
    Contact hours24-34 hours
    Total time commitment150 hours
    Pre teaching start date 9 October 2019
    Pre teaching requirementsThe pre-teaching period commences four weeks before the subject commencement date. From this time, students 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 period13 November 2019 to 19 November 2019
    Last self-enrol date16 October 2019
    Census date13 November 2019
    Last date to withdraw without fail20 December 2019
    Assessment period ends 5 February 2020

    November contact information


    Professor Sean Cooney (Coordinator)
    Mr Paul O'Grady QC

    Email: law-masters@unimelb.edu.au
    Phone: +61 3 8344 6190
    Website: law.unimelb.edu.au

Additional delivery details

This subject has a quota of 30 students.

Enrolment is on a first come, first served basis. Waitlists are maintained for subjects that are fully subscribed.

Students should note priority of places in subjects will be given as follows:

  • To currently enrolled Graduate Diploma and Masters students with a satisfactory record in their degree
  • To other students enrolling on a single subject basis, eg Community Access Program (CAP) students, cross-institutional study and cross-faculty study.

Please refer to the Melbourne Law Masters website for further information about the management of subject quotas and waitlists.

Further information

Last updated: 23 August 2019