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Property (LAWS50030)

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

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework Level 5
Subject codeLAWS50030
Semester 1
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This subject introduces students to the conceptual framework for understanding the principles of real and personal property and examines the role of law in defining and regulating proprietary relationships. The major substantive focus is on Australian land law.

Topics include:

  • The concept of property in diverse social, economic and political contexts including Indigenous land interests, common law, international law and intellectual property;
  • The boundaries of property including distinctions between contract and property, and between real and personal property including fixtures and licenses to use property;
  • Acquisition and regulation of personal and real property including possession, ownership and formalities;
  • The history of Australian land law including Crown title, Crown powers to deal with land and the introduction of the Torrens system;
  • Foundational concepts of land law including tenure and estates;
  • Adverse possession;
  • Land rights of Indigenous peoples including native title;
  • Joint and common ownership;
  • Non-possessory interests in land including security interests, profits á prèndre, easements and restrictive covenants;
  • The nature, creation, acquisition, disposal, enforceability and registration of property interests in land, especially under the Torrens land registration system; and
  • Equitable and legal priorities between conflicting interests under the Torrens land registration system.

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this subject students should have an integrated understanding of the conceptual aspects of property, the role of law in defining and regulating proprietary rights and relationships and the major legislative frameworks and common law principles governing such rights and relationships. More specifically, students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate a sound understanding of, and the ability to critically evaluate the:
    • Concept of property and its variable interpretation in different social, economic and cultural contexts;
    • Various forms of legal proprietary interests including real property, personal property, intellectual property and emerging forms of property as well as the forms of law and regulation that pertain to proprietary interests;
    • Historical development and current operation of Australia’s land law system, the historical and contemporary role of the Crown, the rights of Indigenous peoples within Australia’s land law system and the function of registration systems for proprietary interests; and
    • Essential characteristics of a proprietary interest and how these may be distinguished from non-proprietary rights.
  • Describe:
    • Possible sources of proprietary rights arising in statute, common law and equity;
    • Different judicial approaches to the recognition and protection of proprietary rights;
    • Policy issues underlying the recognition of particular interests as proprietary or non-proprietary in emerging areas such as intellectual property; and
    • Identify, evaluate and apply the legal rules governing co-ownership, the range of estates and interests in land, the role of the Crown, the implementation of the Torrens land registration system and the resolution of priority disputes over land;
  • Identify how property law interfaces with other areas of law such as contract, tort and equity in order to evaluate the role of property law in land and property transactions;
  • Evaluate the social role and implications of legal rules, particularly in a culturally diverse society such as exists in Australia, and explore the possibilities for law reform;
  • Demonstrate an ability to identify, analyse and interpret relevant case law and statutes;
  • Identify, apply and assess the legal principles arising from case law and statutes in a range of applied contexts; and
  • Use effective written communication skills in structuring and presenting relevant analysis, argument and conclusions.

Generic skills

On completion of the subject, students should have developed the following generic skills:

  • Attitudes towards knowledge that include valuing a rigorous approach to research and the presentation of information, openness to new ideas and ethics associated with knowledge creation and usage;
  • The capacity for close reading and analysis of a range of primary and secondary sources;
  • The capacity for critical and independent thought and reflection;
  • The capacity to solve problems, including by collecting and evaluating information;
  • The capacity to communicate effectively in a range of oral and written formats;
  • The capacity to plan and manage time; and
  • Intercultural sensitivity and understanding.

In addition, on completion of the subject, students should have developed the following skills specific to the discipline of law:

  • Case reading and analysis, including an ability to:
    • Extract key legal meanings and rules from judgments;
    • Reconcile or distinguish judgments;
    • Evaluate the development of legal principles; and
    • Apply legal principles arising from case law and statutes to new situations.
  • Legal analysis and problem solving, including an ability to:
    • Identify legal issues arising in complex fact situations;
    • Identify and apply relevant legal, equitable and statutory principles; and
    • Provide advice as to the rights and obligations of the parties.
  • Reading, interpreting and analysing statutes and their application to given factual situations; and
  • Legal research and writing skills, including an ability to:
    • Locate current primary legal sources and to interpret the relative authority of the primary sources;
    • Find relevant and topical secondary sources;
    • Use case law, statutes and secondary sources as an effective component of legal analysis and commentary;
    • Identify and summarise legal principles and evaluate their relevance in given contexts;
    • Evaluate the significance and implications of judgments and issues to which they relate in applied and contextual exercises; and
    • Present an appropriately structured and well supported complex legal argument in written form.

Last updated: 11 September 2019