Credit points


Campus offering

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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 wide range of alternative dispute resolution, and other dispute resolution, topics, both national and international. It provides students with a critical perspective on the effectiveness of the various dispute resolution processes in terms of their efficiency, responsiveness, fairness and finality.

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 role of the different forms of alternative dispute resolution in settling legal and other disputes (GA4, GA9)

LO2 - Determine whether or not to use alternative dispute resolution processes to settle certain disputes and advise clients and others of their rights and responsibilities in those disputes and in certain dispute resolution processes (GA6)

LO3 - Structure and communicate information and arguments with a view to resolving a dispute (GA9)

Graduate attributes

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

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

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


Topics will include:

  • Lawyers as problem-solvers
  • Diagnosing conflict
  • ADR processes including negotiation, mediation and arbitration
  • Competence, ethics and standards
  • Legal issues
  • Power, gender and culture in ADR
  • The future of ADR

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 elective unit allows students to demonstrate knowledge, skills and understanding in a specialist area of law and to use advanced dispute resolution skills. 

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

The unit is designed to be delivered in intensive, weekly or online. 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 law, and to develop advanced dispute resolution skills. 

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

Class participation. 


1, 2 and 3


Conduct an online negotiation with another student. Each negotiation will settle, and students are to write up a settlement agreement and attach a log of the negotiation communications.


1, 2 and 3

GA4 and GA6

Complete and submit a short answer take-home-exam.


1 and 2

GA4, GA6, and GA9

Representative texts and references

Spencer D, Principles of Dispute Resolution (Sydney: Thomson Reuters, 2nd ed, 2016). 

Boulle, L and Field, R, Australian Dispute resolution (Sydney: Lexis Nexis, 2016) 

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