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HIS1115 Legal History

Semester 1, 2021 Online
Short Description: Legal History
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts
School or Department : School of Humanities & Communication
Student contribution band : 2021 Grandfather Funding Cl 1
ASCED code : 090305 - History
Grading basis : Graded


Examiner: Sarah McKibbin


Enrolment is not permitted in HIS1115 if LAW1114 or LAW1202 has been previously completed.


This course is designed to introduce students to the broader historical and socio-political underpinnings of law in Australia, including the significant influences of English law and the Constitution of the United States of America. It includes a study of English legal history before and after European settlement in Australia, the American constitutional settlement, the impact of European settlement on Indigenous Australians, and the legal consequences of political and social changes in Australia. It also includes the development of skills relevant to legal study, including critical thinking and communication.


Law is shaped by its surrounding society. The study of history requires an appreciation of the effect changing social habits and attitudes have on law, and the study of law requires an understanding of social and historical setting in which political institutions and law developed. Students will address concepts that have affected the development of Australian institutions and law, and the historical circumstances that gave rise to constitutional principles such as the rule of law, sovereignty, the role of Parliament, the electoral franchise and the separation of powers. The impact of law on Indigenous Australians will also be included.


On successful completion of this course students should be able to demonstrate:

  1. knowledge and understanding of the origins, social influences and broader historical contexts of the development of Australian law, and of fundamental Australian constitutional principles;
  2. thinking skills, including an emerging ability to identify, analyse and articulate the broader historical contexts for legal development and constitutional governance;
  3. communication skills, in particular the ability to respond to complex ideas and articulate the broader historical context within which law and legal institutions developed in an effective, appropriate and persuasive way.


Description Weighting(%)
1. The origins of the common law 8.00
2. Growth of the legal profession, the doctrine of precedent and law reporting 8.00
3. The English Revolutions: Parliament, king and courts in the 17th century 8.00
4. Responsible government, law and justice in 18th century England 8.00
5. The American constitutional settlement 8.00
6. Reform of the British Parliament and courts in the 19th century 8.00
7. Reception of English law in Australia 8.00
8. Self-government and law in colonial Australia 10.00
9. Indigenous Australia and the law in the colonial period 10.00
10. Federation 8.00
11. Australian constitutional independence and law in the 20th century 8.00
12. Indigenous Australia and the law in modern Australia 8.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

Vines, Prue 2013, Law and justice in Australia : foundations of the legal system, 3rd edn, Victoria Oxford University Press, South Melbourne.

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.
Baker, John H 2010, Baker and Milsom sources of English legal history : private law to 1750, 2nd edn, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Baker, John Hamilton 2019, An introduction to English legal history, 5th edn, Butterworths LexisNexis, London.
Broome, Richard 2019, Aboriginal Australians : a history since 1788, 5th edn, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, N.S.W.

Student workload expectations

Activity Hours
Directed Study 39.00
Independent Study 126.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Objectives Assessed Notes
ESSAY 1 30 30 29 Mar 2021 1,2,3 (see note 1)
ESSAY 2 40 40 17 May 2021 1,2,3
COURSE ENGAGEMENT 30 30 31 May 2021 1,2 (see note 2)

  1. Case Note.
  2. Assessed throughout Semester.

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    If you are an international student in Australia, you are advised to attend all classes at your campus. For all other students, there are no attendance requirements for this course. However, it is the students' responsibility to attend and participate appropriately in all activities scheduled for them, and to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them, to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To satisfactorily complete an individual assessment item a student must achieve at least 50% of the marks for that item.

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    Students should refer to the Assessment Procedure (point 4.2.4)

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must achieve at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for the course.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must achieve at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for the course.

  6. Examination information:
    There is no examination in this course.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    There is no examination in this course, there will be no deferred or supplementary examinations.

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Date printed 18 June 2021