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Equity and Trusts (LAWS50033)

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

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework Level 5
Subject codeLAWS50033
Semester 2
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

The subject will enable students to develop a broad and critical understanding of equity and trusts, with a focus on the law of trusts. We will first consider the nature of equitable doctrine more broadly before focusing on what a trust is and what functions it performs in modern Australian society. We will examine in detail the rules and principles governing the validity of express trusts. We will also consider trusts for charitable and non-charitable purposes, asking whether the law relating to charitable trusts is in need of reform. We will look at the range of fiduciary relationships recognised in Australia, including the trustee – beneficiary relationship. We will examine the duties owed by fiduciaries, including the fiduciary and non-fiduciary duties owned by trustees. We will consider resulting and constructive trusts, before finally exploring equitable remedies.

Equity and Trusts builds on the foundational knowledge of equity and trusts that students will have acquired from the compulsory subjects LAWS50026 Obligations, LAWS50029 Contracts and LAWS50030 Property. The subject emphasises contemporary applications of the rules, principles and remedies of equity. It also explores issues that are presently unresolved and the subject of contention.

Intended learning outcomes

A student who has completed this subject should have an advanced, integrated and comparative knowledge of the law of trusts. In particular, such a student will be able to:

  • demonstrate an integrated understanding of conceptual issues and debates in equity and trusts, including: the nature of equity; whether the trust is best conceived as property or obligation; the relationship of equity and trusts to unjust enrichment principles; and the character of resulting and constructive trusts;
  • demonstrate a sophisticated appreciation of, and ability to engage in, the complex policy and practical debates surrounding equity and trusts, on topics such as: the proprietary consequences of trusts on insolvency; the proper relationship of equity and statutory law; and purpose trusts, especially those for charitable purposes;
  • demonstrate a high-level capacity to critically and independently evaluate a range of propositions and arguments about conceptual and policy dimensions of equitable principles, including the trust;
  • demonstrate a high-level capacity to critically and independently evaluate responses to issues in modern equity and trusts law in different jurisdictions from a comparative perspective;
  • locate and understand the significance of the place of equity and trusts within private law as a whole; 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 their skills in the following areas:

  • specialist understanding, interpretation, critical reflection, synthesis and comparison of judicial decisions, statutory provisions, and other primary source materials on equity and trusts;
  • interpretation, critical reflection, synthesis and comparison of academic literature on equity and trusts; and
  • generating and evaluating proposals for the reform of equity and trusts law in Australia, having regard to international experience and academic writings.


Eligibility and requirements


Successful completion of all the below subjects:

Code Name Teaching period Credit Points
LAWS50023 Legal Method and Reasoning
Summer Term
LAWS50024 Principles of Public Law
Semester 1
LAWS50025 Torts
Semester 1
LAWS50026 Obligations
Semester 1
LAWS50027 Dispute Resolution 12.5
Code Name Teaching period Credit Points
LAWS90140 Disputes and Ethics
Semester 2
Code Name Teaching period Credit Points
LAWS50028 Constitutional Law
Semester 2
LAWS50029 Contracts
Semester 2
LAWS50030 Property
Semester 1
LAWS50032 Administrative Law
Semester 1



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



Option 1, Part 1: Exam

  • 1 hours
During the teaching period30%

Option 1, Part 2: An exam

  • 2 hours
During the examination period70%

Option 2: Exam

  • 3 hours
During the examination period100%

Additional details

  • 1 hour exam during semester (30%) AND a 2 hour exam during the main examination period (70%)


  • 3 hour exam during the main examination period (100%)

More information on the above assessment will be available to students via the Assessment Schedule on the LMS Community.

Dates & times

  • Semester 2
    Principal coordinatorLisa Sarmas
    Mode of deliveryOn Campus — Parkville
    Contact hours48 hours
    Total time commitment144 hours
    Teaching period29 July 2019 to 27 October 2019
    Last self-enrol date 9 August 2019
    Census date31 August 2019
    Last date to withdraw without fail27 September 2019
    Assessment period ends22 November 2019

    Semester 2 contact information

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

Further information

  • Texts

    Prescribed texts

    • M W Bryan, S E Degeling, M S Donald and V J Vann, A Sourcebook on Equity and Trusts in Australia (Cambridge University Press, 2016)
    • M W Bryan, V J Vann and S Barkehall Thomas, Equity and Trusts in Australia (Cambridge University Press, 2017)
    • Specialist materials will also be made available from 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: 21 September 2019