• Offered by ANU School of Legal Practice
  • ANU College ANU College of Law
  • Course subject Legal Practice MLP
  • Areas of interest Law, Legal Practice
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Colin James
  • Mode of delivery Online
  • Offered in Second Semester 2021
    See Future Offerings

The course examines how family law disputes are resolved under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth). It also examines the social and political context of family law, critically examining the values that inform it. As it is not possible to cover all of the legal rules under the Family Law Act in one semester, this course will provide an in-depth and integrated understanding of the legal principles and skills that are central to ‘bread and butter’ family law practice. The course is structured such that the student will gain knowledge of, and the ability to apply, the key legal principles in the first 8 weeks of the course. In the latter part of the course, the course will critically examine a selected family law topic in more depth.

The course is of general use to all law students because family law touches the lives of many Australians, both directly and indirectly. This course would also be useful for anyone thinking of practising in the area of family law, or who might be interested in working in family law policy. As there will be opportunities in the second half of the semester to critically reflect on the social and other values underlying family law and its reform, the course may also appeal to the student who is interested in law reform and social justice issues.

“Lecture” style material will be provided in digital form.

During online seminars or asynchronous discussions, students will engage in interactive activities designed to support the intended learning outcomes of the course. This will include activities on group work, reflective practice and practical problem solving. Students will be free to view and listen to the digital lectures at the times that are most convenient to them.


Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Demonstrate mastery of key principles of family law including an extended understanding of recent developments, and be able to cite the relevant legislative provisions and case law appropriately.
  2. Apply knowledge of family law creatively and with initiative to construct an accurate written advice that addresses a factually complex hypothetical family law problem, and present that advice to a specialist and non-specialist audience.
  3. Identify and use a range of legally-specific research principles, methods and tools appropriate to respond to a factually complex family law problem.
  4. Synthesise complex information on key aspects of family law including recent developments, and selected secondary academic literature and theoretical writing about family law and its reforms.
  5. Critically evaluate perspectives and values that are relevant to family law and critically examine (in written and oral form) those perspectives and values.
  6. Acquire experience in collaborative learning and demonstrate personal and communication skills to function effectively in small groups.
  7. Plan and execute a substantial research project.
  8. Reflect coherently upon learning in the course, the student’s own values, the values underlying the family law system, and the differences between family law and practice in other legal areas, and comment on those differences at a theoretical level.

Indicative Assessment

  1. The assessments include participation in online and interactive forum discussions on a range of family law topics relevant to legal research and professional legal practice. The forums promote a deeper understanding of the discretionary nature of family law and practice and the connections between family law and social science, and include qualitative feedback by the convenor on many posts to promote deeper appreciation of the law in context. (15) [LO 2,5,8]
  2. In addition, there are weekly short quizzes, designed to maintain focus on the readings and to facilitate incremental learning of course content. (36) [LO 1,4]
  3. An individual legal research paper with a letter of advice written to a client (based on the research paper) summarising the research and applied to the client's scenario (3,200 words). (25) [LO 1,3,4,5,7]
  4. A team-based, short research exercise on planning and preparing a submission on law reform to a Parliamentary Inquiry (2,000 words). (24) [LO 1,3,4,5,6,7]

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


10-12 hours per week during the semester online via Wattle

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must be studying a: Master of Laws (MLLM); Master of Legal Practice (MLEGP), OR Juris Doctor (MJD) and have completed or be completing five 1000 or 6100 level LAWS courses; OR Master of Military Law (MMILL) You are not able to enrol in this course if you have previously completed LAWS4217 Family Law or LAWS8417 Family Law

Prescribed Texts

Parkinson, Patrick. Australian Family Law in Context: Commentary and Materials, Lawbook Company 7th ed, 2019. ISBN 9780455241234

Preliminary Reading

Other materials will be provided online and will include the materials identified within the topic areas above.


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2021 $4410
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2021 $5880
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
7247 26 Jul 2021 02 Aug 2021 14 Sep 2021 29 Oct 2021 Online View

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