Relationship to other tasks and assessments:
This assessment allows you to engage in depth with legal theory. In class we take a global or overall perspective on jurisprudence or legal
theory, but in your theoretical research essay you have the opportunity to explore any theoretical schools or theories in more depth.
Research into natural law or legal positivism, or if you wish into non-mainstream schools, and use the ideas and knowledge you develop to
answer one of the essay questions listed below. The research paper will facilitate your development of legal research skills, ability to engage
in jurisprudential analysis, and capacity to write clear and persuasive legal arguments in an essay format.
Purpose of this assignment and ULOs assessed
The purpose of this assignment is to:
1. Assess students’ understanding of, and critical analysis skills in relation to, mainstream and alternative approaches to legal theory.
2. Provide students with an opportunity to develop their legal research and writing skills.
3. Provide students with an opportunity to explore particular schools or theories within jurisprudence.
The unit learning outcomes assessed are:
1. Critique leading legal theories (especially in the western legal tradition), justify their relevance to our society and contextualise the
law’s connection with cognate disciplines;
1. Analyse the theoretical underpinnings of law and legal systems already studied and map the theoretical basis of future legal study and
1. Identify, research and synthesise theoretical knowledge and apply legal theory to justify arguments on the theoretical and normative
character of law;
Theoretical Research Essay Question
Choose one of the following research questions:
1. Is law a tool of the powerful to control the weak?
2. To what extent, if any, is morality linked to law?
3. Which theoretical approach to law best describes the Australian legal system?
Your essay must focus upon, and directly respond to, the essay question. Your essay must use clear and intelligible written expression,
advance a recognisable central argument or set of arguments, conform broadly to standard essay format, demonstrate independent research
on your selected schools or theories, and provide referencing and a reference list in compliance with the Australian Guide to Legal Citation.
Please use the discussion forum: Ask a question about this unit for any further clarifications.
1. Read over the research question provided above. Then, by the end of the first week of class, choose your preferred research question
and begin preliminary research and essay planning.
2. In this assignment, you will rely primarily on your own initiative to complete the essay. However, there are many resources at your
disposal, including the Library, student services, your LLW1004 teacher, and your fellow students via discussion boards on VU
Collaborate. Remember that we will have a workshop on secondary research and essay writing in a Week 1 workshop.
3. Ensure you have submitted your research paper to the correct dropbox by 11.59pm on the Monday of Week 3.
Please note and follow the process steps below:
1. Read through and consider the theoretical research essay questions.
2. Choose a research question.
3. Conduct preliminary research on your research question and plan your arguments and essay structure.
a. Remember to answer your research question – what does it ask? Does your response directly address the issue(s) raised in the
b. Remember that essays typically require an introduction stating your argument and how your essay will develop it, an essay
body comprised of coherent paragraphs that logically progress your main points, and a conclusion that summarizes your
essay’s main points and their link to the research question.
4. Begin writing your essay, remembering to reference the factual and legal claims you make, and the work or words of others that you
use of refer to.
a. Remember to double check whether your argument directly responds to the research question, whether you have a clear and
effective introduction, essay body and conclusion, and whether you have referenced your factual, legal and paraphrased or
5. Complete and submit your research paper to the correct dropbox by 11.59pm on the Monday of Week 3.
Your research essay will demonstrate:
1. Understanding of selected legal theory accurate legal knowledge
2. Clarity, relevance and support of argument
3. Extent of independent research
4. Conformity with AGLC4
5. Writing and essay structure.
Your assessment rubric is available via a link in the Assessment Information section of the unit’s Learning Space on VU Collaborate.
When you receive feedback on your research paper, you will receive a raw mark out of 100 in the dropbox as well as a mark out of 40 in
the gradebook that reflects the 40% weighting of this assignment in the unit overall. You will also receive detailed feedback in the form of a
completed assessment rubric and general comments that provide an overview of how effectively you have responded to the assessment