LAWS12072 - Legal Research

General Information

Unit Synopsis

In your first year of law studies you will have learned the foundations of legal research and knowledge management. Legal Research will develop these skills to a level appropriate for a legal professional working as a researcher, legal project manager and in all other areas of legal practice. You will learn to access, analyse and evaluate information from legal authorities and from other relevant disciplinary knowledge bases. In Legal Research you will work with your peers in a learning community to apply your research skills in the context of a current legal research project such as contemporary law reform issue, a project for a community legal centre or the work of a research centre. You will prepare a research document which engages with a real public interest law issue and produce an artefact which will then form part of your professional portfolio.

Details

Level Undergraduate
Unit Level 2
Credit Points 6
Student Contribution Band 3
Fraction of Full-Time Student Load 0.125
Pre-requisites or Co-requisites

Pre-requisite: LAWS11057 Introduction to Law

Important note: Students enrolled in a subsequent unit who failed their pre-requisite unit, should drop the subsequent unit before the census date or within 10 working days of Fail grade notification. Students who do not drop the unit in this timeframe cannot later drop the unit without academic and financial liability. See details in the Assessment Policy and Procedure (Higher Education Coursework).

Class Timetable View Unit Timetable
Residential School No Residential School

Unit Availabilities from Term 2 - 2019

Term 2 - 2019 Profile
Online

Attendance Requirements

All on-campus students are expected to attend scheduled classes – in some units, these classes are identified as a mandatory (pass/fail) component and attendance is compulsory. International students, on a student visa, must maintain a full time study load and meet both attendance and academic progress requirements in each study period (satisfactory attendance for International students is defined as maintaining at least an 80% attendance record).

Assessment Overview

Recommended Student Time Commitment

Each 6-credit Undergraduate unit at CQUniversity requires an overall time commitment of an average of 12.5 hours of study per week, making a total of 150 hours for the unit.

Assessment Tasks

Assessment Task Weighting
1. Portfolio 20%
2. Written Assessment 20%
3. Written Assessment 60%

This is a graded unit: your overall grade will be calculated from the marks or grades for each assessment task, based on the relative weightings shown in the table above. You must obtain an overall mark for the unit of at least 50%, or an overall grade of ‘pass’ in order to pass the unit. If any ‘pass/fail’ tasks are shown in the table above they must also be completed successfully (‘pass’ grade). You must also meet any minimum mark requirements specified for a particular assessment task, as detailed in the ‘assessment task’ section (note that in some instances, the minimum mark for a task may be greater than 50%).

Consult the University’s Grades and Results Policy for more details of interim results and final grades

Past Exams

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Previous Feedback

Term 2 - 2018 : The overall satisfaction for students in the last offering of this course was 4 (on a 5 point Likert scale), based on a 42.55% response rate.

Feedback, Recommendations and Responses

Every unit is reviewed for enhancement each year. At the most recent review, the following staff and student feedback items were identified and recommendations were made.

Source: Survey, in class, private consultations.
Feedback
Students felt challenged by a focus on research skills that they had not previously encountered.
Recommendation
The positive aspect of this is that students who had not previously considered honours are now enthusiastic. Other students did not consider research to be a core lawyering skill so we must find ways of reinforcing realistic expectations of work skills, through curriculum and through careers-based extra-curriculars.
Action Taken
With the assistance of first year coordinators, students are now more aware that research is a core employability skill.
Source: Survey, in class, private consultations
Feedback
The non-compulsory Perusall online learning tool was divisive. Some students engaged enthusiastically, some struggle with the technical requirements.
Recommendation
Persuall is a new technology and we will develop our understanding of how best to use it. It should remain a voluntary part of the course as some students still struggle with even the modest internet requirements of something like Perusall. We should also be conscious of the 'fear of missing out' factor among students where we engage in multiple platforms.
Action Taken
Students did not engage with Perusal and it will not be used next year. We DO need a better engagement tool than the default Moodle forum tool and will look to having something like Piazza integrated.
Source: Survey
Feedback
Some students found the assessment requirements unclear and struggled with incremental and iterative work
Recommendation
Iterative development of instructional materials, providing clearer examples of basic skills for students who are struggling. Further emphasise the importance of the university tutoring service for students.
Action Taken
Study materials have been used and assessment tasks have had more scaffolding. It is unclear if students are using the university tutoring service.
Source: Improvement to assessment tasks, survey
Feedback
Iterative assessment, where plan and portfolio tasks built toward a final research project were generally successful but some students felt the earlier tasks demanded more weighting
Recommendation
Retain the current approach and further explain to students that the reason for the weighting is to allow them to build confidence via the early assessment tasks so that their final projects build on these successes or improve on mistakes.
Action Taken
Students still found the weekly work tasks/portfolio challenging but nevertheless understood why it is important in a skills oriented unit such as this.
Source: Surveys, email, consultations
Feedback
Some students still feel unprepared for a research unit and are uncertain about basic research tasks such as using the law library.
Recommendation
We are working to introduce basic research resources for first years. A "legal research toolkit" moodle meta-unit has been created and will detail basic skills, similar to the service a law librarian would usually offer at other law schools.
Action Taken
Nil.
Source: Surveys, email, consultations
Feedback
Students lack experience with writing research papers
Recommendation
We will explore the need for more research papers at first year, supported by basic research and writing resources in the moodle meta-unit. While the LPAB accreditors are emphasising invigilated exams and we also want to implement diverse assessment strategies, we also need to ensure that students are getting experience writing research papers.
Action Taken
Nil.
Source: Surveys, email, consultations
Feedback
Some students struggled with the serious nature of the research topic
Recommendation
Students were given the option of an alternative topic but no one took this up. This unit's supporting materials encourages students to explore their reactions to the serious issues raised in legal situations and to develop professional modes of coping with the stress of legal practise. Around 20 students took the opportunity to discuss these and other study issues in the private consultation sessions. We will continue to emphasise these strategies for developing professional identity and study skills.
Action Taken
Nil.
Source: Observation of attendance at workshops and activity on forums
Feedback
There was not strong student engagement in this unit.
Recommendation
While some students appreciate the ability to work alone, we also have to encourage engagement among the student body. Perusall, the social learning platform was not effective nor was the Moodle forum system. We will look to having a better learning forum system implemented, such as Piazza, that can be easily be integrated into moodle.
Action Taken
Nil.
Unit learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:

  1. Develop and evaluate strategies for solving legal problems, researching options and presenting solutions using a variety of different research and collaboration tools
  2. Analyse legal problems through critical thinking, evaluating and weighing evidence and developing alternative solutions
  3. Engage in collaborative research as a member of the learning community and as an ethically responsible professional
  4. Activate solutions and apply research toward legal change in context of a practical research project of public interest.

Alignment of Assessment Tasks to Learning Outcomes
Assessment Tasks Learning Outcomes
1 2 3 4
1 - Portfolio
2 - Written Assessment
3 - Written Assessment
Alignment of Graduate Attributes to Learning Outcomes
Introductory Level
Intermediate Level
Graduate Level
Graduate Attributes Learning Outcomes
1 2 3 4
1 - Communication
2 - Problem Solving
3 - Critical Thinking
4 - Information Literacy
5 - Team Work
6 - Information Technology Competence
7 - Cross Cultural Competence
8 - Ethical practice
Alignment of Assessment Tasks to Graduate Attributes
Introductory Level
Intermediate Level
Graduate Level
Assessment Tasks Graduate Attributes
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
1 - Portfolio
2 - Written Assessment
3 - Written Assessment