This course is an introduction to the common law system - the backbone of the Australian legal system and that of many countries around the world. The common law tradition stretches back to Medieval England but its guiding principles are still sound. The course provides an invaluable introduction to Australia’s common law system for students who have no formal knowledge of this area, including those with a legal qualification from countries with a civil code jurisdiction.

Highlights include the key features of the common law, the Australian legal system and its sources, and the role of case law and statutory law. This knowledge enables students to develop their understanding of the common law system of justice and see how it differs from other legal systems. Students visit a court and are encouraged to develop their legal research skills through an introduction to the methodologies involved in discovering and applying the law and comparing legal systems.

Topics covered include:

  • The Australian Legal and Political System and Constitutional Framework
  • The Development of the Common Law in Australia
  • Australian Courts of Law and other legal institutions
  • Operation of Case Law and Precedents
  • Relationship between Statute Law, the Common Law and Equity
  • Statute law - enactment and interpretation
  • Adversarial System; juries; and evidence
  • Access to Justice & Legal Pluralism: the Challenge of Inclusion
  • Indigenous Australians and the case of Mabo
  • Australian Courts and Proceedings (Discussion and Court Hearing Scenarios)
  • Future Directions and Overview

Professor Ann Black

Associate Professor Ann Black researches in the field of comparative law and legal pluralism, with particular interest in the law and legal cultures of Asia and in Islamic law. She teaches two comparative law courses in the undergraduate program - Asian Legal Systems and Introduction to Islamic law - as well as in the substantive fields of criminal law and legal method. Associate Professor Black also teaches into and co-ordinates courses in the School's Master's program. She is a co-author with Gary Bell, of Law and Legal Institutions of Asia: Traditions, adaptations and innovations (Cambridge University Press, 2011) and Modern Perspectives on Islamic Law, with Hossein Esmaeili and Nadirsyah Hosen, (Edward Elgar, 2013).

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This course may also be taken as a CPD course or a non-award course. 

CPD details and applications