Foundations of Law
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The fact that Foundations of Law is your first law subject is heartbreaking. Although there are some interesting bits, overall, this subject is neither fun nor easy. Foundations is seminar based. You need to do a significant amount of readings before class and discuss a handful of questions during class time. While this doesn't sound too bad, the planning for most classes is unprofessional. There are usually three to four completely unrelated topics discussed in each class and there is very little that may come out of the discussions anyways other than the few remarks made by the seminar leader. Best thing is to just write notes and not show up in class... except that... oh wait... you get marked on your participation. There are classes solely dedicated to discussing court cases. These are the interesting bits and they could be your only source of motivation for the term. Understandably, Foundations tries to teach you a bit of everything: the history of law from 1066 until 1778, 1778 to 1901 and 1901 to today; national and international legal bodies; study of the rule of law in different contexts and different views on law. While this is a good approach, it is problematic when it comes to assessment. It is very likely that the student will not get tested on a significant amount of content at all. Personally, I felt unfulfilled as a Foundations student and I felt that a lot of my time in this class was wasted. Foundations is nevertheless your first core subject and you need to pass in order to progress through your degree, so here go my tips: The most important thing that you must learn is the skills: reading, understanding and navigating legislation and cases. There are several websites that will be your legal bible for pretty much your whole study life and potentially career such as the infamous AustLII, Westlaw and LexisNexis. Learn how to use them. The final exam is open book. WRITE UP YOUR NOTES FOR EVERY SESSION. Your notes are ideally around 15% the size of the readings and in your exam, you are ideally going to use less than 50% of your notes. It will give you a huge advantage in terms of time and focus when you are in the exam room. These notes may be in the form of dot points or in case of court cases, in the form of case notes or in any other form that suits you but you NEED to have them. Participate in class discussions. In terms of knowledge, you will achieve a bit. In terms of your final mark, it decides 15% of it. The final exam is generally one problem question (40 mins) and one essay OR short answers (40 mins). Arguably the hardest part of the subject. While you cannot predict your performance in the exam, you have complete control over your assignments which, including your participation mark, decide 60% of your final mark.Anonymous, Semester 1, 2015
I competed Foundations of Law in its commencing semester and I would like to believe that the blandness of the subject and the incredibly harsh marking is a disadvantage that has improved since then. The first assignment we received was a thirty word thesis, which was incredibly tedious, and it had a weighting of five percent. I believe the average was two, and by default you received one for handing it in. I believe they have since abolished this assignment from the course. The course content is generally quite dry and blunt and it scared me for what was to come in future law subjects. I'm glad I stuck through, however, because this introductory subject is perhaps the most uninteresting of all law subjects. It's basically a history course and if you did legal studies in year twelve, the parallels are hard to ignore. Keep up with your weekly readings. Keep proofreading your assignments and showing them to your teacher. The exam is perhaps the most difficult part of the course, so enter the exam with as many marks as possible to leverage yourself.The first part of the exam is quite easy - responding to a judgement in an IRAC manner - you will get the case beforehand and you will have a trial run with another case in class, so preparing for this shouldn't be overtly difficult. The second aspect, being an essay, is the markedly different and far more difficult component. You must include five thematically connected readings from the readings book in the essay, and come up with a reasonable thesis in response to the question, upon which you must substantiate with consistent referencing from the reading. Given only two hours to complete both parts of the exam means that you must know the readings extremely well to manage the time hurdle.Anonymous, Semester 1, 2014
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