Archives For Assignments

70317: Real Property

oatsandsugar —  August 2, 2011 — 6 Comments

This subject has a pretty bad reputation.  People fail, badly, and it used to be closed book!

Home economics building around 1913-14.

Studying real property to be able to buy a Real Property

But now there is a generous amount of marks for (quite easy) class tests.  And, the mid-semester and final exams are open book.  There are marvellous lecturers.  You definitely should not be scared of this subject.  It is a lot of work, but it is manageable.

The subject

This subject concerns itself with rights in land – “real property.”  You will find yourself spending 3/4 of the course trying to figure out the ranking of priorities between all the claimants.  It sounds pretty simple!

Basically, you learn the background stuff (Tenure, Estates and Native Title, the meaning of land) and you learn the new Torrens Title System (priorities, indefeasibility and its exceptions).  This makes up the content of your mid-semester exam (and, in my opinion, Torrens Title is the hardest topic in the course).

Then, you are on easy street, a light stroll of not to difficult 1 – 3 lecture topics (Old System Title, mortgages, co-ownership, easements, covenants and leases).  These build on what you learn, and each topic can be summarised into a couple of pages of flowcharts — what I call topic skeletons (don’t worry, I’ll give ’em to you).  These topics make up your final exam, and, from what I gather from my friends, last semester, most people did much better in the final exam than in the mid-semester test.

Geoffrey Moore’s textbook is very useful: together with the lectures presented, it provides a holistic view of the subject without bogging itself down too much in details.  This remains the only textbook I have ever read cover to cover.  However, where I found Mr. Moore’s textbook confusing, Prof. Butt’s textbook was very good, albeit a little long-winded.

Note, there were no in-class-tests during our Torrens Title section of the course, which lead me to fall a week or two behind in my note-making.  Do not let this happen, Torrens Title is quite difficult to catch up on in the few days before mid-semester exams.

The staff

There are three main lecturers for this subject, Shaunnagh Dorsett (an amazing teacher, who speaks with good Powerpoint presentations and delivers the information in an understandable way — she is absolutely lovely, and was happy to help students out in her office hours), Geoffrey Moore (a highly intelligent lecturer and practitioner who delivers his whole lectures from memory, and only writes up what is most necessary (e.g. his flow-chart of priorities in the Torrens Title System)) and a third teacher, who only delivers one lecture, but does it quite well.

I I would highly recommend that you try to get into Shaunnagh’s tutorial.

The tutorials/in-class-tests

Every week you have an in class test.  It is usually about a single topic.  It isn’t too hard.  It goes for about 5-15 minutes, depending I guess, on the mood of the tutor: there doesn’t seem to be any real pattern.  Your best two marks in these quizzes make up 20% of your final grade.

This is a gift.  The tests are easy and the questions are not at all analytical — they test whether you have listened to the material, read the readings and made some notes.  For example, we never once had a problem on whether something was a fixture or a chattel, but we did have a question on what court we would bring a certain cause of action in.

Just a quick hint: almost all the questions, here, refer to something that Shaunnagh has explicitly mentioned in the lectures — more often then not the questions do not go in to deeply on the textbook readings.  Sometimes, however, they refer to the facts of the case discussed in the “skills question” part of the tutorial .  As such, good lecture notes are essential in doing well in the in-class-tests.  Here are mine, they are quite lengthy, but also thorough: Real Property Lecture Notes.

Further, I’d recommend doing as many tutorial questions before walking into the class as possible — you don’t have to spend too much time on them, just try to sketch out some answers and find some proper authorities.  That way, if your way is totally wrong, you find out before the test, and if you get the answer right, you feel all warm and bubbly.  The best way to learn Real Property is by planning and doing problem questions, so these tutorial answers can go far.  Here are the answers I can find — I do not attest at all, however, to their correctness, as they were just rough sketches prepared for class: Tutorials1Tutorials2Tutorials3.

The mid-semester exam

The mid-semester exam is on Tenure, Estates and the meaning of land (this includes the fixture/chattel spiel) and Native Title, and on the Torrens Title System.  Our exam was split three ways, with the first section on Tenure and native title, and the second two parts being problem questions on Torrens Title — no questions on Chattels/Fixtures, I was quite disappointed in that.

People generally did really well in the first part, and less well in the second part (which is not surprising, since it is much harder).  There are tricksy bits in Torrens Title like determining when there is an exception to indefeasibility, and where it applies.  Here, it is very important to have succinct notes, and to know the cases well enough that similar fact-scenarios trigger your memory of cases.

If you guys like, I can scan up my mid-semester exam, since they gave our exams back to us.  Otherwise, my notes for the mid-semester exam are in the first section of the final exam notes below.

The finals

The final exams do not cover the content from the first half of the semester.  They only cover 6 little (quite easy) topics.  Most of my friends (and I) improved our marks in the final exam.

I brought my Real Property notes, the sample exams I had done, my lecture notes, and, most importantly, my craftily brief Real Property Skeletons provided me with a framework for every question they could ask.

After creating my notes and doing some past papers, the final exams turned out to be easy.  This subject may seem daunting, and has a lot of content, but it is a good subject, and you can do well if you do your notes progressively, throughout the semester.

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I wrote this essay for “Constitutional Law” in my second year of university (spring semester, 2010).

Abstract

This paper will seek to define the right to vote; discuss how this right is enacted, through jurisprudential and practical frames; as well as conclude on the manner in which the rights might best be bolstered. This paper concludes that the current implied right to vote, when supplemented with Australia’s international treaty obligations, proves sufficient in protecting the voting rights of Australians.

Vrouwenkiesrecht / Votes for women

Even though Australia has a strong democracy, the right to vote is only tenuously protected by the constitution; suffrage, the "weight" of each vote and many other factors are still determined by parliament.

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Resistance in the workplace

oatsandsugar —  February 21, 2011 — 7 Comments

This essay will show that employee resistance is not always unfounded: that it is often based on legitimate reason, is expressed in the most succinct and effective manner possible and can, with proper management, positively affect the organization. Resistance proves to be both responsive and targeted, allowing for the gathering and communication of problems with the organization and possible improvements. Whilst resistance can cause decreasing production in the extreme short term, the net benefit from increased innovation, communication and morality outweigh these costs.

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I wrote this essay for the subject “Managing People and Organisations” in my first year of university (autumn semester, 2009).

Abstract:

This essay will argue that managers should seek to manage the views and values of their employees in light of moral, social and economic analysis. Furthermore, the formation of a corporate culture, whilst flawed, is superior to other management techniques, and, has become a self-propagating practice.

Auburn Sewing Center

Should thoughts, values and non-work time be managed?

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Constitutional law was a bit of a pet subject for me this semester.  I did the extra work, and got the better mark.  At the beginning of the semester, though, I wouldn’t have picked that it was going to be one of my favorite subjects.

Inkermann

ss 51(xxxii - xxxix) - Australia federated so we could catch a subway from Melbourne to Sydney.

The first few lectures were absolutely boring — the subject seemed chalk dry and any hope I had of us discussing the constitutional accuracy of “the Castle” seemed dashed.  We talked about issues that, whilst relatively interesting, seemed disconnected from the subject — how could we problem solve about whether Aboriginal Australians were to be represented in the preamble to the constitution?  The first few lectures seemed like a collection of bits and bobs somewhat related to the constitution.

Then we got our assignment.  Then we learned characterisation of the law, inconsistencies and about the separation of powers and rights issues.  Then the subject got interesting.

Our assignment was on the right to vote in Australia — did it exist (as an express or implied right), to what extent was it protected and did it need to be protected?  We were asked to assess our right with regards to certain criteria (i.e. defining franchise, the “value” of a vote, etc.). I deduced that, currently, we have an implied constitutional right to vote which is supported by our international treaty obligations, our common law and current legislation.  Further, I assessed that whilst other countries (e.g. South Africa) have a constitution which protects the right to vote more expressly, this alone cannot be the measure of success of a country’s democracy.  The strength of Australia’s democracy lay in its voter turnout (top 1% of the world, in those terms) and in the stability of the Australian political system.

That is, I wrote that we are a country where this right is unprotected, but where democracy is still strong.  My reference to international constitutions helped me excel in this assignment (HD), not because they were especially important, but because they helped differentiate my essay.  Find a way to differentiate your assignment, and you will do well.  Here’s my assignment: onlineword doc 70616Asst1, enjoy!

For class participation, you can get <16/20 easily, as long as you listen in lectures and scratch out an outline of answers before the tutorial.  I found that Lumb and Moens’ annotated constitution helped immensely in this (as well as in my final exams, and in researching my assignment, definitely the most important textbook to buy).

The rest of the subject comes down to characterisation, inconsistency, the separation of powers and rights. Basically, we ask these questions (formulated into a flowchart by Mr Geoff Holland (the head lecturer for the subject, and an amazing teacher):

  1. Is there a federal law — does it fall under a commonwealth head of power?
  2. Is there a state law — is there an inconsistency between the two?
  3. Are there any separation of power or rights issues?

With this framework of three questions, we can answer any problem question they throw at us.  We spend a good 70% of the course time studying the breadth of different heads of power, so this question is crucial.  However, even though we only study questions 2 and 3 for a couple of weeks each, they are disproportionately represented in exams, so all must be revised.  Theses are all summarised in my notes: 70616notes.

If you want to do well in this subject, differentiate your assignment, speak up in class and write a decent exam.

Revise by writing as many practice papers as you can, and going over them with your tutor (I had Mr Buanamano, but I asked Geoff Holland to go over my practice questions with me, since he explained things in a way which clicked with me).  Do as many characterisation questions as you can, at least one per head of power.  Remember your inconsistency and don’t forget your fiddly bits with federal courts, and how they are different from state courts in the powers they can exercise and their limitations.  There will almost always be an implied right to political communication question, so, out of the rights, this one is paramount.  Sprinkle, if you can, a few dissenting judgements (e.g. Murphy J on religion in The Scientology Case) and a couple of current cases, and you will do well in your exam.

This is a subject you can do well in, if you do your work and formulate your own opinions (obviously, backed up by legal argument).

70211: Contracts [updated]

oatsandsugar —  February 16, 2011 — 129 Comments

I was just a bit lucky when it came to contracts.  Since I study Business and Law together, I had the pleasure (/was required) to study Business Law and Ethics first semester of first year at uni.  In this subject, we did almost 6 weeks of contracts work.  Entering into “70211: Contracts”, I had a frame of reference, that is, a skeleton outline of the subject in my head.  This skeleton was reinforced by our lecturer, who, in the first lecture, put up a flowchart of exactly how the subject goes (i.e. offer, acceptance, consideration … discharge, etc.).  This framework (whilst, honestly, a little messy) allowed us to know where what we were learning fit in to the subject as a whole.  It should be stuck on the inside of your notebook.

After a few weeks of studying contracts these smoke balls start looking good!

What the lecturer tells students the first week into the subject is exactly true: the “quiz” and mid-semester exams are ridiculously easy, the assignments is not too bad, and the final exam is ridiculously difficult.  However, you can gather enough marks over semester that you can walk into the final exam confident that no matter how badly you really do in the test, you should do ok overall.

The quiz in week 4 was ridiculously easy; limited, to offer, acceptance and basic consideration, it was a breeze.  Som people used notes for it, I just reread the chapters in the marvellous “Essentials of Contracts.”  That seemed to do the trick.  You should expect, with a bit of revision, to easily get a distinction in this quiz.

The mid-semester exam, similarly, is a breeze.  Multiple choice questions, not too difficult.  You are doing yourself a disservice if you don’t revise the main cases, though, since they can even ask multiple choice questions about the minority reasoning in those.

The assignment, however, is a bit of an effort.  With a bit of sweet talking and basic presentation skills (my and my partner used pun-filled old-school overhead transparencies) you can get >4/5 for the oral.  But the essay is a toughie.  I wrote a decent response, but hedged my bets a little too much by analysing a few issues broadly rather that devoting half the essay to the critical issue, which I should have done.  Focus on the issue and you should do well.  My assignment was on Non-Est-Factum.

The finals were an epic struggle.  The first shock comes when you realise that most of the law comes after the formation of the contract, and that what you though was the bulk of the subject actually only makes up Topic 2 (of 8).  The second is when you realise that the finals won’t be anything like any of the other tests you’ve done this semester: it’s mainly problem based.  This is where you appreciate listening to all the presentations over the semester, or attempting all the problem questions yourself over the same time.

It’s an open book test, but not in the classic way, its limited open book: you can’t bring in any textbooks.  The “Essentials” you have used is useless in the test, you need to make your own notes.  They need to have everything in them, because you have no textbook to fall back on.

This basically means you need two sets of notes: one set of “big,” textbook like notes, and one set of short notes, or essay plans.  I borrowed my big notes, they ended up being >400 pages.  If you want them, hit me up with an email, because it is a zip file with a few parts.

The short notes you write have to be precise, easy to read and navigate and rich in simple information (i.e. “Area –> Principle –> Case name –> Exception if applicable” — no facts, unless necessary).  You will have to use your big notes at some time during the exam, but your little notes should be used <80% of the time.

Here’s a chunk of my small notes (70211New) (they totalled 80 pages), I can’t find the full bunch as of yet, but I’m working on organising them again for you guys.  If you need them ASAP, email me and I’ll give you my hard-copy of both my short and long notes (but I only have one copy, so first come first served).

Just as a point to finish on, the lecturers swap about during the course, some are good, some are boring.  You have your tutor for the semester.  I had Chris Croese (I think that’s how it is spelled).  He was amazing, intelligent and engaging.  I thoroughly recommend him.

[update: long notes, after much popular demand.]

Accounting II really isn’t that difficult. At least, it’s not that hard to pass, but it’s tricky to excel in (pun intended).

Brian Parkin, 1984

Accountants are ^this^ cool

There’s just a few things to be aware of:

The MYOB  assignment is a massive schlep, it takes at least a full day.  All you hand in is a profit/loss statement and a balance sheet, so they don’t get too much info and are marking it mainly with a gut feeling.  Make sure you get all of your account names right, and have the numbers around the right amount and you are almost guaranteed <6 out of 10.  Also, don’t be scared to question your tutor’s marking of the assignment: I did this and pulled myself up a mark to 9/10.  My profit and loss statement and balance sheets are attached, if you want my MYOB files, hit me up with an email or a comment MYOBProfitMYOBBalance.

The homework and tutorial times are probably the most useful thing you’ll do all semester.  Firstly, learning in the tutorial after you’ve done your homework questions is easier than trying to swallow lectures whole without practice.  Secondly, it’s an easy 10 marks: I don’t doubt that anyone can get 10/10, all you have to do is do the homework (getting it right isn’t that important, as long as you try it), talk a little in class and attempt (you can literally write three dot points on a page) to do the discussion questions and you will get full marks in the exam.  Here’s an example of my preparation for a week’s tutorial questions, if you want my answers to any other week, hit me up (note: these are practice questions, I often did them before reading through the chapter, so my answers do have mistakes in them.  This is merely meant to be an example) Tute3.

The exams are relatively easy.  They tell you, just before each test, exactly what is in each section of each exam.  You will pass the exams if you have done your homework.

    • Before the test, I recommend you do all the homework questions again, do all of the self-study questions and read the chapters you have difficulty with.
    • Don’t neglect your theory, since <15% of the exam is theory based.
    • Here are my midsem notes: 22207MidSems.  More important than notes, however, are practice questions.
    • I studied for finals using the revision lecture slides and by doing lots of practice questions, that should do.

Don’t let this subject get away from you (i.e. go to all the tutes, as many lectures as you can and keep up with your homework).  If you have a couple of days to cram before each test, you will be fine!

Both textbooks are essential: Accounting and MYOB 17.  I had a great tutor, Mr Seethmaraju, I highly recommend him.

This subject was a lot more difficult than I thought it would be.  I was lulled into a false sense of security by how easy the first few lectures were and how easy the tutorial work was and how little work there seemed to be.

Bitch-slapped by macroeconomics

The introductory lecture: sweet, just high school economics definitions.

The first few weeks: easy, building up a more complex version of the simple Keynesian model of nation income.

But then they sneak in the difficult stuff, without warning.  Suddenly, you are deriving the IS and LM curves and applying economic policies to different versions of these lines.  Actually, that’s not even the hard part: these curves are easy to derive and easy to apply theory to.  Because they make sense economically, mathematically and graphically.

It gets complicated when we get to the AD/AS model.  There just seemed to be too many assumptions here, the graphs all made sense but there weren’t enough equations; there seemed to be too many gaps for it to click for me.  The rest is all a bit muddy.

The upside is, you can do really well in this subject!  The assignment is great: it is early on, it is a group assignments, it is fartsy and it is worth a lot of marks.  Because the assignment is so early in the semester, it proves easy to catch marks, not too much complex economics, more media/current event analysis.  I had a terrific group, we delegated work well and all did what we had to, though me and my friend Shammy were up all night editing, as you do.  So we did well, a distinction gave us a leg up on the semester: 25555Ast.

The mid-semester exam is easy, you only really need the complex Keynesian model (with all the new variables) and the IS/LM model, which is manageable: 25555MidsemNotes.

There’s a lot of content we learn after the mid-semester exam that is hardly examinable: most of the marks in the exam are on the first few weeks of content.  The multiple choice questions can be about anything, but they tend to be fine if you have shallow knowledge of all the topics.  The calculations, which make up a lot of marks, tend to be about the complex Keynesian model from the first few weeks, the IS/LM model and something weird like exchange rates or inflation.  So the calculations are quite easy as well.  At least one of the 4 essays (of which you have to choose 2) will be about  the IS/LM model.  So, really, the last half of the subject is only uniquely examinable in one essay and a few multiple choice questions.  For the exam, I used my mid-semester exam notes and the slides from lectures 8-11, along with some of my mates’ notes (available on request).

I finished the subject with an intimate knowledge of the first 6 lectures, and enough knowledge of the rest of the subject to get by.  This was enough to scrape a high credit, so, as hard as this subject looks, it is definitely manageable.

For this subject, I also made some wicked Adobe Illustrator graphs and diagrams which you can see at this flickr set that I made, and which I can send to you in SVG or Illustrator formats.

The textbook for this subject is a bit useless, don’t waste your money on it.  If you need it in a pinch, borrow it from the library.  It is structured differently to the subject and, as such, can be confusing.  I relied on lecture notes, slides, peer notes and online resources for my study.

My first piece of advice when writing an assignment: reference as you write.  When you quote, when you use a case as authority, whenever it is appropriate to reference, do it.  Don’t just write and leave referencing to the end, you’ll lose the cases, pages, paragraphs etc. that you need to properly pin-point reference. Do it as you go.

To keep on top of all of my references, I use EndNote: available for free for UTS students from the library website.

EndNote:

A lot of people can’t stand EndNote. I can’t do law without it!  It keeps the lecturers honest — they can’t deduct marks off you for referencing if you use the referencing program they prescribe, properly.

It is a little fiddly.  It is a bit hard to get used to.  Once you start to get used to it, once you figure out the ways to use it efficiently, once you start populating your reference library, it becomes essential and literally saves hours of bibliography writing, footnote editing, etc.

Installing EndNote for beginners:

I’m not going to write too much on installing EndNote; the UTS Library website does a brilliant job at walking you through the steps.  Just remember to follow all the steps:

  1. Download and install the program itself.  The library talks you through this process.
  2. Tweak it to output legal-style (AGLC) referencing.  This involves (a) installing the legal reference types, (b) downloading and installing the AGLC plug-in/style and (c) setting (AGLC-UTS) as the output type.  These steps are outlined on the library site but may be a bit fiddly.

Now you have EndNote!

So now I have EndNote, what do I do with it?

The basic premise of EndNote is that references are fiddly, and that they are meant to be informative, complementing your assignment, and not blocking creativity by taking up so much time.  So instead of writing and re-writing references, instead of wondering whether to “ibid.” you just fill out the requisite fields in the right reference type on EndNote, and then use the word plug-in to insert it without bother.

Creating a new reference:

Here’s a few tricks in filling out the reference fields:

  • A few legal databases and library sites can auto-magically export reference files, so you don’t need to type them up at all!
  • Always fill in the “reference type” field to allow EndNote to automatically order the bibliography: first by reference type and then alphabetically.
  • In the description field, I like to copy/paste the FirstPoint headnote, this jogs my memory of what the case is all about later in the semester when I’ve already forgotten.
  • If you can be bothered, attach a PDF file of the case, it will save some effort later in the semester.
  • Tags make cases easy to search for.
  • Organise your references in folders, by subject and assignment, for easy categorisation.

The more information you put into EndNote, the easier it will be to use.

Inserting references:

Wherever you need to insert a reference, first, select the reference in EndNote.

Here, I have selected Ryan v The Queen, notice that the preview shows you how the reference will look in Word.

Then, in Word, insert a footnote [References > Footnotes > Insert Footnote].

A footnote will now appear at the bottom of the page.  Now you need to insert the EndNote citation [EndNote X3 >Citations > Insert Citations > Insert Selected Citations].  This will insert the citation you have selected in EndNote.

You are done!  To add more than one reference in a single citation is easy: just select more than one reference in EndNote (using ctrl+click or shift+click): as below.

Pinpoint referencing:

Law requires pinpoint referencing, but the above method only refers to a case/article/book/etc.  To pinpoint reference properly, right-click on the footnote and select [edit citations > more].  This will pop up a window.  Fill in the “pages” field with “p#”, “s#”, “ss#A” or “[#]” depending on whether you are referencing a page, section, subsection or paragraph, respectively.  Then hit “OK” and you are good!

This is how the reference will look:

Creating a bibliography:

You’ve noticed that as you’ve referenced in Word, using EndNote, a list of references is populating below.  This is your bibliography!  If you followed the steps above, it will automatically be organised according to reference type and alphabetically (just by the way, I like to add a page-break above the bibliography [shift+enter] to keep it neat and away from body-text).

When you have finished editing your work (it is important to only do this at the end, since the references will no longer be dynamic after this step) you’ll need to flatten your references so you can edit this bibliography [EndNote > Bibliography > Convert Citations and Bibliography > Convert to Plain Text].  It will then prompt you to save a new copy: do so.

Then you can start editing your references if required, and playing with your bibliography by inserting headings for reference types, etc.

After this step, your document is done!

The next step: EndNote intermediate

When you install EndNote, the process to add a reference to a word document is quite messy — you have to change to the reference screen, insert a footnote, go to the EndNote window, which is open separately, select or create the reference you need, and then insert it.  I propose that this is ridiculous and should be easier.

Here’s how I solved this problem.

You know that little strip of icons next to the office button at the top left of the screen in Word ’07?  Hmm, maybe I should just show you.

The quick-access tool-bar full of random useless buttons/shortcuts, until we finish with it!

When you buy word and run it for the first time, this tool-bar is relatively useless, filled with commonly known tools (copy [ctrl+c], paste [ctrl+v], undo [ctrl+z], redo [ctrl+y] and save [ctrl+s]).  This is a waste!  Every command that you put into the Quick Access Toolbar creates a shortcut: [alt+#], where # is the position of the shortcut.  In the image above, the “save” function would have been assigned the short-cut [alt+2].  Here’s an idea, let’s create shortcuts to make the process described above for using EndNote in Word a bit easier!

The first step will be to clear your current Quick Access Toolbar.  To do this, right-click on each icon displayed and delete it [right-click > Remove From Quick Access Toolbar].  To add an icon to your toolbar, right-click and select “Add to Quick Access Toolbar.

Mine is set up like so:

[alt+1] Insert Footnote

[alt+2] Insert Selected Citation(s)

[alt+3] Update Citations and Bibliography

[alt+4] Paste Special (this I use to paste unformatted text, etc.)

Now, instead of following the steps above, to insert a citation I (1) select it in EndNote, (2) hit [alt+1] to insert a footnote, [2] hit [alt+2] to insert the citation and I’m done!  If I edited the citations within EndNote and I need to update them in word, I just hit [alt+3].  It’s a really easy way to use EndNote, and if you add the item “Find Citation” instead of “Insert Selected Citation” you never have to leave Word at all.

You can use the Quick Access Toolbar to create easy custom shortcuts within word for whatever feature you want within reach, I find it really makes sailing through EndNote a breeze.

ProTip: use two screens!

If you have a spare monitor running around, use it! It really makes EndNote easy as pie to use.  Have EndNote open on the smaller screen and Word open on the main screen: instead of flipping between the two windows, you have your document and your references side-by-side.

If you only have one screen but its a big one, go half-and-half; same effect.

NB: if you are using EndNote for Business, change the output style to “Harvard Referencing” and not to “UTS_AGLC”, you can still use the program and all of its features and reference in-line, as required.

70218: Criminal Law

oatsandsugar —  July 27, 2010 — 3 Comments

Crim’s a bit difficult.

Patrick Bateman: Psychopaths aren't crazy in Australia: Wilgoss (1960)

The concepts and all that are really quite easy, and the exam isn’t on too much content, really (we were lucky, the law on statutory larceny offences changed while we were learning, and that whole chunk was taken out of our exams).  The problem questions are also blissfully short/simple (i.e. they have one or two issues in each), especially when compared to Torts.  The markers are ridiculously finicky though, and mark quite harshly.  Really harshly.  That’s where they get you.

Regarding the teachers; I’ve experienced Leslie Townsend and Peter … something.  Leslie once judged me in WitEx (Witness Examination competition, I’ll write about it later in the term).  She also taught one of my good mates.  She is meant to be a tad scary, a lot strict, brilliant as anything and an awesome teacher.  Peter taught our night class.  He was pretty funky, a criminal defense lawyer filled with stories about his cases and with an intense practical and applied knowledge of the law.  It was cool because his stories would ground the theoretical law into a concrete scenario, and keep everything nice and interesting.

Onto the assessments; the assignment, the class participation mark and the finals.

The assignment (on murder) actually killed me.  It wasn’t that difficult conceptually, it was just that there was so much to say; I didn’t know which points of law I had to talk about, and which I could assume known, how much to talk about each section, how much to talk about the facts of this case, of the cases I discussed — it was my first attempt at a legal problem response, and I went for the scatter-gun approach, I tried to write everything.

In the end, though, I didn’t write enough about the two major issues, instead focusing on slightly relevant (and even some irrelevant) points of law without applying them.  I’ll take the risk of sounding like your Method tutor; use the IRAC method, I didn’t, and it cost me.

  1. Actually identify the issues in the question.  This is where the scatter-gun approach failed me, I touched on the two main issues (in my assignment they were provocation and causation) without going into enough depth on either because I spent so much time discussing non-issues.
  2. Now summarize the legal rule.  What does authority tell you?  Are there any cases with a congruent/comparable factual make-up? If there is a case that is similar enough or you wish to differentiate this case from authority, don’t be scared of summarizing the facts of that case quickly to draw parallels/distinctions.
  3. Here’s the fun part; apply the facts of the case to the legal rule described below.  To put it simply: either apply the facts to the test outlined in cases or distinguish the facts from said case.  This is the most important part of the criminal law and, indeed, most other, assignments.  This is where you should focus.  This is where you get the majority of your marks.
  4. Then conclude succinctly and decisively.

Again, whilst you must focus on the issues in the case, you also need to jump through certain hoops; the “golden strand” of criminal law, the evidentiary burden, etc.  I went on a bit too much with this; wasted words.

I’ll post my assignment up with the following warning: DO NOT use the assignment as a guide, I did not do at all well in it.  I passed, but not by much.  Rather, use it with the advice above: 70218Asst1.

One good thing came of my assignment, though: I talked through problem solving method with the subject coördinator and paid a lot more attention in class.  A bit of prep goes a long way in Crim for the class mark, enjoy the easy marks!  Just try pepper your logical answers to problem questions with the cases/legislation that you were assigned to read, and you’ll get a HD like magic.  It’s also good practice for problem solving on the spot for the exam.

Like I said above, the exam wasn’t too hard, simple concepts and a relatively small area of law (we only had to study sexual assault, assault, larceny, joint criminality, defenses and attempt: all of them together less difficult than murder).  Have organised exam notes, do a few practice papers and watch your time and you should do fine.  Here are my exam notes, with a special shout-out to Nesha for helping with the end part (I ran out of time to make notes before the exam) 70218Notes.  Also, don’t be scared to bring in textbooks and the notes they give you; if you have a moment at the end of the exam and you need to look something up, they will come in useful.

UPDATED: Sorry, I totally forgot to mention this: the first/most important textbook you need to buy for this subject is Essential Criminal Law by Penny Crofts (the subject coördinator).  It is succinct, well structured and easy to understand.  It is great to use in the assignment, in class and in the finals.  It is a lifesaver.  I used the third edition, but I’m sure a new one will be released shortly to deal with the changes in the law of larceny. You need this book [UTS LibraryAmazon].

Enjoy! This subject, although it’s a bit tough, is good fun!