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Evidence and Proof (LAWS50037)

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

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework Level 5
Subject codeLAWS50037
Availability(Quotas apply)
Semester 1
Winter Term
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

Evidence and Proof offers a detailed exploration of how facts are analysed in legal settings, giving equal attention to the way that lawyers think about and communicate factual issues and the rules that regulate how courts resolve factual disputes. The subject provides a foundation for understanding both the rules that regulate the curial resolution of factual disagreements and the way that facts are approached in legal practice and in everyday life.

The core of the subject is the study of mental processes used to explore and resolve factual issues. Specific topics addressed are the development of a theory of the case and a description of inferences that can be used to reason from the evidence to the case. A number of methods for communicating factual analysis, including the use of software, may be studied, with an emphasis on both technical accuracy and the production of useful, readable analysis.

The subject will then explore the main rules that regulate (or purport to regulate) these mental processes (and related physical processes, such as the testimony of witnesses and the admission of documents and real evidence) when factual disputes are resolved by courts. The regulatory topics, comprising the central components of the law of evidence, include relevance, discretionary exclusion; the hearsay rule and its exceptions; the opinion rule and the regulation of expert evidence; and the credibility rule. The subject will also consider the rules that impact on the proof of criminal charges, including the rules on evidence of the defendant’s character and other misconduct; the admissibility of admissions; and the law of criminal investigations. The classes will emphasise the application of these rules to complex, realistic facts and the development of skills to describe the impact of legal regulation on factual arguments that would otherwise be available.

Throughout, the subject will explore the rationales for the rules and practices that surround legal fact-finding, as well as the alternative approaches available from comparative jurisdictions or proposed as law reforms. Students will be challenged to consider not only the limits of legal regulation, but also the limits of logical fact-finding, as a means of providing justice (and, in particular, avoiding miscarriages of justice) in a transparent, accountable, efficient and effective manner.

Intended learning outcomes

Students who successfully complete this subject will have demonstrated:

  • A sophisticated appreciation of the role played by facts in litigation;
  • Specialist cognitive, technical and creative skills in the analysis of facts in a variety of contexts, both through the development of a theory of the case that is compatible with the available evidence and the formulation of a comprehensive description of how that evidence rationally supports a given case;
  • A detailed and critical understanding of the main sources, principles, techniques, terminology and concepts of the law of evidence in Australia and with the fundamental features of common law trials;
  • A specialist working knowledge of the most important rules of evidence, the key controversies about their contemporary application and an ability to apply those rules to diverse factual situations; and
  • The ability to communicate both factual and legal analysis in a clear, succinct and comprehensive manner.

Generic skills

On successful completion of the subject students will have developed their skills in the following areas:

  • Advanced skills in the analysis of facts in a legal context, including imaginative and creative skills in developing theories and arguments and deductive and logical skills in expressing inferences and factual propositions;
  • Specialist knowledge and critical understanding of the statutes and cases relevant to Victorian evidence law and their application to complex, diverse and novel factual arguments; and
  • The ability to express and advocate complex factual and legal arguments in a clear, accessible and comprehensive manner aimed at diverse legal audiences.

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
LAWS50026 Obligations
Semester 1

And either

Code Name Teaching period Credit Points
LAWS50027 Dispute Resolution 12.5
Code Name Teaching period Credit Points
LAWS90140 Disputes and Ethics
Semester 2



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

  • 6,000 word Take Home Examination (100%): Students will be required to analyse a brief of evidence (including witness statements, expert reports and variety of real evidence). This will usually comprise material that has been presented in a real case. They will then have to prepare an advice on evidence setting out their theory of the case (consistently with the evidence), their proof of the case (consistently with the theory) and their assessment of the impact of the law of evidence on their proof.

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

Quotas apply to this subject

Dates & times

  • Semester 1
    Principal coordinatorJames Parker
    Mode of deliveryOn Campus — Parkville
    Contact hours36 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

  • Winter Term
    Principal coordinatorJudith Marychurch
    Mode of deliveryOn Campus — Parkville
    Contact hours36 hours
    Total time commitment144 hours
    Teaching period 8 July 2019 to 19 July 2019
    Last self-enrol date10 July 2019
    Census date12 July 2019
    Last date to withdraw without fail19 July 2019
    Assessment period ends29 July 2019

    Winter Term contact information

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

Additional delivery details

Winter offering

Winter Evidence and Proof is quota restricted to 120 students. Students will be approved to enter Winter Evidence and Proof on a first-in basis, based on their date/time of enrolling into the subject. A waitlist will be maintained once the quota has been met and you will be contacted should a place become available.

Once the "Last date to Self-Enrol" has past, students can apply for Winter Evidence and Proof by completing an Enrolment Variation form. Students may speak to a Course Planning Advisor at Stop 1 with any queries.

Further information

  • Texts

    Prescribed texts

    • Jeremy Gans and Andrew Palmer, Uniform Evidence (latest edition);
    • Andrew Palmer, Proof (latest edition);
    • Specialist printed materials will also be made available from Melbourne Law School.
  • Subject notes

    Special Computer Requirements: Use of certain software as a means of communicating factual analysis may be discussed in class, and may - but only if that is an individual student's preference - be used in assessment.

  • 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.

Last updated: 11 September 2019