Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


LAWS104 Foundations of Law and Legal Research

Teaching organisation

4 hours per week for twelve weeks or equivalent.

Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit introduces students to the study of comparative law and the different systems of law operating in key jurisdictions. It focuses on comparing the approach taken to contract, torts and criminal law taken in European civil law jurisdiction with that of the common law. The unit will also examine aspects of the legal systems of certain Asian countries, focusing on Australia's principal trading, political and economic partners.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Describe and critically evaluate the approach to contract, torts and constitutional law taken in key European civil law jurisdictions (GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9) 

LO2 - Compare and contrast the approach taken in those jurisdiction to resolving civil disputes with that in common law jurisdictions (GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9) 

LO3 - Describe and critically evaluate the legal systems operating in Australia’s principal Asian trading, political and economic partners (GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9) 

Graduate attributes

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 


Topics will include: 

  1. The nature, methods, aims and limits of comparative law 
  2. The division of the world jurisdictions into legal families 
  3. The general characteristics of civil law, with a focus on contract and tort law 
  4. The general characteristics of certain Asian law jurisdictions 
  5. The role of socio-legal considerations in comparative law 
  6. The role of quantitative data in comparing legal systems 
  7. The effects of transplantation and the pressures of development on the field of comparative law 
  8. The effects of globalisation on the comparison between legal systems 
  9. Legal pluralism, with specific consideration of indigenous law as a possible comparative source 
  10. Comparative law in action – comparative constitutional law 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Mode:Lectures, tutorials, electronic consultation, library tasks and presentations or Online lectures and activities.  


Duration:3 hours per week over 12 weeks or equivalent.  Students are expected to spend 150 hours in total for this unit. 


This level two elective unit allows students to demonstrate knowledge, skills and understanding in a specialist area of law and legal theory in an international context.  


Our strategy is to encourage students to creatively engage with unit content using comparative law methodologies.  


The unit is designed to be delivered in intensive, weekly or online mode. We have taken a blended learning approach to provide accessibility and flexibility to our students and a student focused approach that increases depth of learning and engagement through actively utilising LEO.   


Assessment strategy and rationale

 The assessment strategy is designed to assess knowledge, skills and understanding in a specialist area of legal theory and to allow students to develop comparative law methodologies.  


The assessment tasks for this unit are designed to demonstrate achievement of each of the learning outcomes listed.  

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Group presentation (assignment 1) 

Students to demonstrate knowledge of legal systems from comparative perspectives and critical thinking skills 


LO1; LO2; LO3 

GA4; GA5; GA6; GA8; GA9 

Research essay (assignment 2) 

Students to demonstrate their ability to research assigned topic and critically evaluate legal systems and laws 


LO1; LO2; LO3 

GA4; GA5; GA6; GA8; GA9 


Students to demonstrate application and interpretation of knowledge; evaluation of legal systems and laws 


LO1; LO2; LO3 

GA4; GA6; GA8; GA9 

Representative texts and references

Mathias Siems, Comparative Law (Cambridge University Press, 2nd edition, 2018) 

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