This is a foundation unit for law students and others studying in the justice professions and involves three related areas - understanding research as an active, critical and reflective process, identifying, understanding and utilising research sources in a legal studies context, and developing legal analytical skills. Research is a fundamental skill which enables you to improve your knowledge, understanding and action in daily life. In an academic and legal setting, it enables you to locate contemporary law and academic knowledge, then critically evaluate the content and credibility of sources. The unit introduces the concept and process of research, encouraging students to develop their critical reading and analytical skills. It introduces the academic integrity principles and citation systems that scholarly writing must employ. Like any discipline, law uses its own language and media forms and this unit is designed to enable students to master these. Legal scholars must be familiar with primary sources of law and the specific ways in which academic and legal authorities must be recorded in legal writing. The unit introduces students to the broad variety of secondary and primary legal sources and the manner in which they may be both located and cited. Legal scholarship involves an understanding of the relationship between primary legal sources and the dynamic between primary and secondary legal sources. This unit provides students with the legal knowledge and analytical skills necessary to master scholarly legal analysis. By focusing on the technical and conceptual skills underlying legal research, the unit seeks to provide a guide which students can return to for reference throught their course and to develop skills that can be built upon in subsequent units of study.

Unit details

Study level:
Undergraduate
Credit points:
12
Unit code:
BLB1114

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:
  1. Engage in academic and legal research and contextualise legal research in inquiry into particular legal issues;  
  2. Locate and critically evaluate the value of textual sources, synthesise information within them, and correctly cite research sources;  
  3. Locate and critically evaluate the impact of legal authorities - case law, legislation, international law and regulatory instruments in a wide range of contemporary contexts;  
  4. Understand, explain and apply legal knowledge in the analysis of primary legal sources, evaluate their relationship to each other, and determine legal currency in practical scenarios;  
  5. Articulate opinions in an academic manner supported by research evidence and confirm development in academic and legal literacy skills; and  
  6. Frame the discourse of law as one of many approaches to social problems and contextualise legal knowledge in relation to other academic, social and community discourses.  

Assessment

Assessment type Description Grade
Assignment Secondary Source 30%
Assignment Research Essay 40%
Test Court observations and online quiz 30%

Required reading

Foundations of Law in Australia. 2nd edn
Raponi, Kathleen and O'Sullivan, C
LexisNexis

Australian Guide to Legal Citation 4th edn
Melbourne University Law Review et al (eds), 2018
Melbourne University Law Review Association

.

Where to next?

As part of a course

This unit is studied as part of the following courses. Refer to the course page for information on how to apply for the course.

Study a single unit

This unit may be available as a single unit of study.

Find out more about how to apply for single units of study at VU.

VU takes care to ensure the accuracy of this unit information, but reserves the right to change or withdraw courses offered at any time. Please check that unit information is current with the Student Contact Centre.