The Constitution is the highest law. Beneath the Constitution, there are two main sources of law: statutory law and the common law. Correspondingly, other than constitutional interpretation, there are two main modes of legal reasoning: statutory interpretation and common law reasoning. Common law reasoning is, in many ways, more fundamental than statutory interpretation. In contrast to the civil law legal system, we call our system a common law legal system. Common law reasoning is foundational to our legal system. Besides a common law approach to case law, we also speak of a common law approach to constitutional interpretation and a common law approach to statutory interpretation. Common law reasoning permeates all areas of law in our legal system. The course will cover the following topics: history and theory of the common law; the doctrine of stare decisis; separating ratio from obiter; deductive and inductive reasoning; reasoning by analogy and disanalogy.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
- Investigate and critically evaluate the different modes of common law reasoning
- Reflect critically on the doctrine of stare decisis
- Explore and review the legal principles underlying common law reasoning
- Critically analyse and assess the difference between ratio and obiter
- Plan and conduct legal research and present findings which evaluate the logic of common law reasoning
- Seminar Participation (10) [LO 2,3]
- Online Quiz (20) [LO 3,4]
- Blog Post: Case Commentary (20) [LO 1,4]
- Research Essay (50) [LO 2,5]
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- Classes offered in non-standard sessions will be taught on an intensive base with compulsory contact hours (approximately 26 hours of face to face teaching). The course will also require advanced preparation through assigned readings. In total, it is anticipated that the hours required for completion of this course (class preparation, teaching and completion of assessment) will not exceed 120 hours.
- Classes offered during semester periods are expected to have three contact hours per week.
Click here for the LLM Masters Program course list
An electronic reading brick will be supplied through the ANU Library.
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.
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Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links
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Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.