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LAWS104 Foundations of Law and Legal Research

Unit rationale, description and aim

This level four unit contributes to the development of:

  • advanced knowledge of legal theories and the ability to apply them to legal questions;
  • advanced cognitive, technical and communication skills
  • advanced research and writing skills.

This unit explores the general nature and meaning of the law and of legal rights, responsibilities and obligations. It covers the work of classical theorists and the various schools of thought about these issues.

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 theories advanced to explain the nature and operation of the law and the rights and obligations it creates. (GA4, GA5, GA9)

LO2 - Describe and critically evaluate the relationship between the law and a society’s moral, social and political values. (GA1, GA2, GA3)

LO3 - Critically evaluate areas of law from moral, social, economic and political perspectives. (GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA9)

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision makinG

GA4 - think critically and reflectively

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

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


Topics will include: 

  1. The nature and relevance of jurisprudence 
  2. The meaning of law 
  3. Natural law 
  4. Legal positivism 
  5. Realism 
  6. Critical legal theory 
  7. Feminist legal theory 
  8. Law, morality and rights 

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 four specified unit allows students to demonstrate knowledge, skills and understanding in the theories and philosophy of law and develop research skills. 

Our strategy is to encourage students to creatively engage with unit content and to practice advanced research skills.

The unit is designed to be delivered in intensive, weekly mode 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 jurisprudence and to develop research skills. 

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

The weighting of the assessment has been approved in accordance with 5.2 of the ACU Assessment Policy.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment 1: Lesson Activities (Ongoing)  

The lesson activities are intended to consolidate students’ knowledge of legal theory. Each lesson must be completed by Sunday 8.00 PM at the end of the relevant week. Weeks 2 to 11 will contribute to the final mark. 


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA9

Assessment 2: Short Essay 

This essay will assess students’ understanding of the topics covered in weeks 1-3. It will provide an opportunity to consolidate knowledge of fundamental theoretical concepts. Students will be assessed on their ability to read and understand theoretical materials and their ability to communicate this understanding in essay form


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA9

Assessment 3: Research Essay 

This assessment is designed to develop students’ research skills, their knowledge of legal theory and their ability to apply legal theory to a legal issue. Students will be assessed on their research, their understanding of legal theory, their ability to creatively and critically apply legal theory and their communication skills. 


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA9

Representative texts and references

Denise Meyerson, Jurisprudence (2011; Oxford University Press). 

HLA Hart, The Concept of Law (1997: Oxford University Press) 

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