Foundations of Law (LAWS5000)


This unit of study provides a foundation core for the study of law. We aim to provide a practical overview of the Australian legal system, an introduction to the skills of legal reasoning and analysis which are necessary to complete your law degree, and an opportunity for critical engagement in debate about the role of law in our lives. The course will introduce students to issues such as: (i) legal institutions and the separation of powers; (ii) the development of judge made and statute law, with a particular focus on English and Australian legal history; (iii) other sources of law, including customary law, constitutional law, and international law (iv) the relationship between courts and parliament; (v) the role and function of courts, tribunals and other forms of dispute resolution; (vi) understanding and interrogating principles of judicial reasoning and statutory interpretation; (vii) how to read cases and interpret statutes; (viii) the relationship between law, government, and politics; (ix) the rule of law; (x) human rights in Australian law. The course focus may be subject to change.

Further unit of study information


Full-time stream: The unit is taught on an intensive basis over four weeks. The course will include both lectures and seminar-style classes. Active class participation based on pre-reading is an essential aspect of the unit, particularly in the seminars. The aim of this is to give students a a basic understanding of the institutions and underlying concepts of law and a good grounding in the basic legal skills needed for law studies before they undertake other Semester 1 units. Classes commence two weeks prior to the beginning of semester. Preparation for and attendance at the intensive is essential for completion of the course. No other law classes are taught for the duration of the intensive. In addition to the intensive, the unit includes a Legal Research element, consisting of 6 x 2hr seminars/wk, commencing in week 1 of semester. Part-time stream: Foundations of Law 1x3hr seminar for 13 weeks beginning week 1. Legal Research 3x4.5hr seminars for 3 weeks beginning week 1.


Foundations of Law daytime stream: Class participation (10%), Group work (10%), 1 x class test (20%) and 1 x final exam (60%). Foundations of Law evening stream: Class participation (10%), class presentation (15%), 1 x 1500wd case analysis, 1 x 2500wd final essay. Legal Research: Compulsory attendance, eLearning quizzes (10%), and in-class exam (90%). The legal research component is assessed on a pass/fail basis and student must pass this component in order to receive a passing grading for the unit as a whole.

Faculty/department permission required?


Unit of study rules


LAWS1000 or LAWS1006

Study this unit outside a degree

Non-award/non-degree study

If you wish to undertake one or more units of study (subjects) for your own interest but not towards a degree, you may enrol in single units as a non-award student.

Cross-institutional study

If you are from another Australian tertiary institution you may be permitted to underake cross-institutional study in one or more units of study at the University of Sydney.