Legal Method and Reasoning (LAWS50023)
Graduate coursework level 5Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)
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About this subject
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In this foundational subject, students will develop a critical understanding of the core elements of legal method and reasoning in Australia's common law legal system. Students in Legal Method and Reasoning will analyse the principal sources of law and the functions they perform in modern Australian society. The relationship between sources of law will be explored as will contemporary debates on common law method and the ways in which different sources of law have evolved.
Methodological issues will be considered in substantive contexts which give students an opportunity to develop an understanding of the social role of law. Throughout this intensively taught subject, students will have an opportunity to critically interrogate whether or not these sources of law, the institutions from which they are derived and the methodologies employed to develop binding rules and principles of law are in need of reform.
Students will be taught in interactive, discussion-oriented classes, either face-to-face or online. Assessment tasks will be designed to give students detailed, formative feedback on the skills they have acquired in the subject.
Legal Method and Reasoning's emphasis is on the contemporary application of the rules and principles governing how the common law and statutory law operate. Given its foundational subject matter, this subject will prepare students for the compulsory subjects they undertake in their first full semester of studies.
The principal topics which are canvassed include:
- Analysis of case law, with a focus on complex scenarios using common law reasoning;
- critical exploration of the concept and use of precedent;
- examination of the emergence of new principles;
- analysis of statutes, in practical, contemporary settings;
- critical exploration of statutory interpretation, with an emphasis on the use of interpretation legislation, the purposive approach and extrinsic materials;
- the relationship between statutes and case-law and between different statutes; and
- presumptions in statutory interpretation, including the principle of legality.
Intended learning outcomes
On completion of this subject, students should have:
- acquired the skills necessary for the development of a deep understanding of the core elements and significance of legal method and reasoning in Australia's settler legal system.
- developed critical perspectives with respect to the principal sources of Australian settler law and the functions they perform in Australian society.
- a demonstrated, critical understanding of conceptual issues and debates in relation to Australian settler law.
- an ability to extract important features from judgments and to apply legal principles arising in case law to new situations.
- a demonstrated appreciation of, and ability to engage in, debates about the legitimacy of Australia's settler legal system and its methods.
- a demonstrated capacity to critically and independently evaluate arguments about conceptual and policy issues associated with legal reasoning in Australia's settler legal system.
A student who successfully completes Legal Method and Reasoning will have developed and demonstrated:
- The capacity for close reading and analysis of a range of sources;
- the capacity to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing;
- legal analysis and problem-solving skills, on which subsequent subjects will build;
- an ability to identify and analyse legal issues arising in new fact situations and the ways in which disputes can be resolved;
- understanding, critical reflection, synthesis and comparison of judicial decisions, statutory provisions, and other primary source materials, relevant to modern approaches to legal reasoning;
- the ability to generate and evaluate proposals for the reform of Australian approaches to the notion of precedent and hierarchy;
- a sound grounding in fundamental legal writing skills, including an ability to concisely and accurately identify and articulate legal principles;
- the capacity to evaluate the significance and implications of legal rules and the issues to which they relate;
- the ability to provide accurate advice on legal issues;
- professionalism in their conduct in classroom or online activities, in their behaviour towards their peers and teachers and in self-study management; and
- professionalism in engagement with learning.
Last updated: 24 January 2023