What are the objectives of the Law assignment?
* How is it assessed?
* What are common student problems?
* What do I need to read?
* What are the differences between legal writing and other kinds of writing?
* What are the best ways of using sources?
* What are the features of legal argument?
* How do I think critically in Law?
* How should I discuss policy in legal essays?
* How can I be "original" and avoid plagiarism?
* What general advice would you give to students?
1. What are the objectives of the Law assignment?
Summary: Students need to demonstrate the following:
* legal research skills
* legal writing skills
* skills in critical legal analysis
* familiarity with style conventions
* ability to use research tools
The aim of this assignment is to provide an opportunity for students to:
Put the legal research skills into practice that were learned in the Legal Research and Methods unit. This includes acquiring some familiarity with of a range of research tools and with primary and secondary legal materials, such as case reports, statutes, and law journal articles.
* Put into practice the legal writing skills which are formally taught as a part of the Legal Process course.
* Begin to put into practice skills of critical legal analysis (i.e. the ability to critique as well as describe the relevant law).
* Gain an insight into some specific area of law that raises important theoretical, policy, or other analytical issues.
* Acquaint themselves with some of the key features of the Law Faculty's style guide, and with the requirements of formal legal writing.
2. How is it assessed?
Summary: Students are assessed on the following:
* level of research
* level of analysis
* level of originality
* writing skills
Assessment is generally via:
* The level of research demonstrated. (i.e., Has the student accurately identified the key laws and demonstrated a reasonable breadth of research?)
* The level of analysis demonstrated. (i.e., Is there more than mere description of the law or arguments that have been raised by others in relation to policy issues?)
* The level of originality demonstrated (i.e., Is there some sense of the student author's voice, a willingness to develop their own view, etc?)
* The writing skills demonstrated (spelling, grammar compliance with style, and clarity of expression).
3. What are common student problems?
Summary: The most common difficulties are associated with the following:
* understanding qualities of a good essay
* understanding how best to research and prepare for the essay
The main difficulties include:
* A lack of understanding of what is required. (This is explained at length in class, and students are urged to look at the Monash Law Review for examples of good legal writing.)
* A lack of understanding of the amount of time required for initial preparation and research, and final checking of the assignment.
* General problems with expression (e.g. the conciseness and precision required for good legal writing).
* Specific problems with the writing style required for formal legal writing. (e.g., Some tend to be too informal and others may have a rather stilted or archaic style.)
* Problems in understanding what is required in terms of originality. (This can be a problem for some international students.)
* A lack of understanding of the need to refer to primary legal sources for legal propositions.
A tendency to over-generalise. For example, students might look at what happened in one specific case and automatically assume that the result will be