LAWS4101 Foundations of Law and Lawyering

6 points
(see Timetable)
Non-standard teaching periodUWA (Perth)Face to face
Non-standard teaching periodUWA (Perth)Face to face
This unit examines fundamental aspects of our law and our legal system. It explores basic questions like: What is law? How is it made? Where do we find it? How is it interpreted and applied? It scrutinises the origins of our legal system and its place in the world. A major focus is our law-making institutions. The court structure, the role of judges and the doctrine of precedent are all considered, as are the functions of the legislature, the federal system and the principles of statutory interpretation. It also examines the critical role of the legal profession and the overarching importance of ethical practice and professional responsibility. The basics of legal research and writing are introduced. The ability to find the relevant law, to read cases and to interpret legislation are cultivated through in-class and out of class exercises. Proficiency in the critical lawyering skills of identifying the material facts and relevant legal principles in a particular situation, and marrying the two together to provide coherent and useful advice, are developed through problem-solving activities.
Students are able to (1) demonstrate an understanding of (a) the foundations of Australian law; (b) how cases create law, and the fundamental principles of the doctrine of precedent; (c) the fundamental principles of statutory interpretation; (d) the legislative process and the information contained in statutes; and (e) the nature of common law and civil legal systems; (2) demonstrate an appreciation of how legislative proposals are derived and formulated, and the professional practice of law; (3) display legal professionalism in all contexts; recognise and critique the role played by the legal system, law as a profession subject to rules of conduct and ethical practice, and professional responsibilities; (4) (a) interpret and apply statutes in answering hypothetical fact scenario problem questions; (b) critically read a case, determine the basis of the decision reached and assess the applicability of that decision in different fact situations; and (c) demonstrate cognitive and creative skills in approaching statutory interpretation problems and formulating appropriate responses or arguments; (5) demonstrate an ability to engage in legal research at an introductory level using primary and secondary sources, in text and electronic form; and (6) demonstrate an understanding and use of the principles of Plain English, use appropriate legal referencing when required, demonstrate collaborative and cooperative teamwork and be able to critically reflect upon the theory and practice of law and one's own professional identity.
Typically this unit is assessed in the following ways: (1) quizzes and (2) assignments. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Liam Elphick
Contact hours
intensive periodlectures, workshops/Practical Classes: Monday 12 February to Friday 23rd February 2018; Practical Classes: continue to run throughout semester one.

Mid year offering: teaching commences 16 July 2018.

Refer to the timetable website for session times and venues.

Students must attend every day (Monday to Friday in the initial teaching weeks) which includes lectures and a combination of workshops and Practical Classes. Students will then be required to attend a one-hour Practical Classe each fortnight for the remainder of the teaching period.
Unit Outline
TS-D-1F :
TS-H-1E :
Recommended text

Marinac, A. et al, Learning Law, Cambridge University Press, 2017

Additional text

It is strongly recommended that students purchase a Law Dictionary such as Butt, P. LexisNexis Concise Australia Dictionary, 4th edn: LexisNexis Butterworths 2011 or Mann, T. Australian Law Dictionary: OUP 2010

  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Books and other material wherever listed may be subject to change. Book lists relating to 'Preliminary reading', 'Recommended reading' and 'Textbooks' are, in most cases, available at the University Co-operative Bookshop (from early January) and appropriate administrative offices for students to consult. Where texts are listed in the unit description above, an asterisk (*) indicates that the book is available in paperback.