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Contract Law Research Outline and Research Essay

The Question is

To what extent is there sufficient clarity and certainty in the establishment of contractual terms for transactions completed online?

In answering this question, you must address:

The concept of incorporation of terms by signature and notice under Australian law; and

Any relevant NSW or Commonwealth statutory provisions relating to e-commerce.

Research Outline

The Research Outline is a short report-style piece of writing that demonstrates your engagement with the research question and the relevant literature. The Research Outline for this assessment has a specific structure that must be followed precisely:

Part 1: Outline of your argument (100 words);

Part 2: Annotated bibliography entries for two (2) key journal sources (2 x 200 words); and

Part 3: Bibliography of research, which must contain at least fifteen (15) relevant sources, in accordance with the following requirements:

At least 8 relevant journal articles;

At least 5 relevant cases; and

No more than 2 relevant textbooks (excluding the unit textbook, which may not be referenced).

Research Essay

The Research Essay is a scholarly response to the Research Question in which you marshal relevant sources into a cogent argument to convince the reader of your point of view. It requires an introduction, substantive argument and conclusion. In this assignment, your bibliography is restricted to the bibliography submitted in your Research Outline, plus five (5) additional new sources.

Referencing must be correct. Final marks will be withheld if there are referencing errors, although you will have the chance to re-submit the essay (with corrected references only) to have your mark released (see below for further information).

released (see below for further information).
Word Length

A word limit of 2,500 words for the Research Essay has been set, inclusive of footnotes, titles and headings. A word limit of 500 words for the Research Outline has been set, inclusive of footnotes, titles and headings. That part of a student s answer that exceeds the limit will not be marked. The word length limit will be strictly enforced. There will be a 1 mark penalty for every 100 words in excess of the word limit “ or part thereof. For example, an essay that is 2,731 words long will be deducted 3 marks. The Assignment Cover Sheet and the Bibliography are not included in the word count. Please remember that this assignment has been structured so that a well-considered and scholarly written assignment may be achieved within the required word limit.


There are strict formatting requirements with which student are required to comply. The Unit Coordinator reserves the right to refuse to mark assignments that are not submitted in accordance with formatting requirements:

Do not manipulate the margins of the page;

Conform to a standard size and type of font “ 11.5-12 point fonts in either Arial or Times New Roman;

Assignments must be double spaced;

Ensure your full name & student number appears on the footer of each page;

Number all pages consecutively; and

Students must use footnotes.


Assignments must be referenced in accordance with the Melbourne University Law Review, Australian Guide to Legal Citation (MULRA, 3rd ed, 2010).

Assignment Tips

A particularly useful book dealing with legal research and writing is Terry Hutchinson, Researching and Writing in Law (Thomson Reuters, 3rd ed, 2010). This book has been placed on reserve in the library on your campus. If possible, it is best to complete a first draft and then leave it a couple of days before you polish, revise and/or rewrite the paper.

Assessment Criteria

It is important to note that reflective writing rather than knowledge telling is required. Knowledge telling is simply a matter of focusing on a particular topic and telling us all you know. On the other hand, reflective writing transforms what you think, demonstrates your reflection of what you have learned (does not just repeat it) and your creation of something quite new. Criteria (that reflect the learning outcomes) have been established for assessing your performance of this task. You should address these criteria carefully as you complete the assignment. Standards have been set against which the markers will judge upon the extent upon which you have met the criteria.

The assessment criteria are set out below:

Identify and explain relevant legal issues and principles;

Describe, contrast, compare and apply theoretical frameworks;

Critical analysis of legal issues, relevant authorities and/or lines of authority;

Compare and contrast authorities and/or lines of authority “ draw analogies, distinctions with facts;

Integrate and apply legal principles and authorities to support argument;

Organisation (format and presentation);

Logical and coherent development of argument;

Writes in plain legal language;

Writes accurately and within the word limit;

Written expression “ spelling, punctuation, grammar and style;

Incorporation and ideas, arguments from both primary and secondary research; and

Appropriate and adequate referencing of primary and secondary sources.

To achieve a pass mark, the paper should:

Be logically structured in at least a basic manner;
Be referenced in some meaningful way. A failure to reference material appropriately and adequately will not provide an argument with the requisite support;
Demonstrate adequate writing skills. Adequacy is measured by spelling, grammar and punctuation. Proof read your paper;
Identify and explain the major legal issues and legal principles;
Demonstrate some basic critical analysis of the legal issues and relevant authorities;
Attempt to compare and contrast relevant authorities;
Attempt integration and application of legal principles to substantiate your argument;
Demonstrate a basic grasp of the theoretical frameworks;
Attempt to compare and contrast any theoretical frameworks; and
Demonstrate research skills by utilising a minimum of three secondary and primary research sources meaningfully.

In addition to satisfying the criteria for a pass grade, a credit paper should:
Be logically developed and well structured;
Develop, sustain and substantiate a relevant and logical argument;
Be appropriately and adequately referenced;
Be expressed reasonably well with attention to matters of style and structure;
Demonstrate good critical analysis skills;
Compare and contrast authorities clearly;
Support your advice with sound integration and application of legal principles;
Demonstrate a good grasp of theoretical frameworks; and
Justify opinion with arguments incorporating ideas and arguments from research.

A credit paper may be distinguished from a pass paper on the basis that you attempt to say something which demonstrates a good attempt to engage in critical analysis and argument. A paper at the top of the credit level may be held back from distinction level by some significant flaw in, for example, its argument or presentation or demonstrated understanding.

In addition to displaying the characteristics of a credit paper, a distinction paper should:
Present a cogent and coherent argument that displays originality in its use of and approach to analysis of the legal and theoretical issues;
Show good judgement as to the appropriate degree of analysis of the different issues addressed;
Demonstrate a strong grasp of the theoretical frameworks;
Be adequately and appropriately referenced, both as a matter of style and with a view to providing appropriate support for description, analysis and evaluation of issues;
Be structured in a logical manner and well written; and
A wide reading of secondary and primary research sources will be evident.

A distinction paper may be distinguished from a credit paper particularly on the basis that the student makes a good and cogent argument based on superior critical analysis of the theoretical issues. The entire content of the paper should be relevant to the student s argument. A paper at the top of the distinction scale may be held back from high distinction level by some significant flaw, including poor written expression.

A high distinction paper will display all the characteristics of a distinction paper but will surpass that grade because it will:

Be distinguished by superior analysis and argument;
Demonstrate good judgement and balance with regard to the appropriate analysis of the different issues that arise for debate;
Demonstrate an excellent grasp of the relevant theoretical issues;
Demonstrate outstanding critical analysis of the relevant theoretical issues in the context of the problem; and
Demonstrate particular originality or creativity.

A paper may be awarded a high distinction notwithstanding some flaws if it demonstrates a superior argument and is outstanding in most respects. The bottom level of a HD is 85% – a paper would have to be truly extraordinary in some or a number of respects to attain a mark in excess of 90%.

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