Internationalising the Australian Law Curriculum

An example of an internationalised curriculum in an area of law: contract law

Contract law is chosen as it is one of the most important areas of law in global practice.

This illustration proposes how this might be done for if any of the aggregation, integration or immersion approaches are adopted.  It is recognised that some or many law schools may choose not to implement the immersion model. Law schools may also choose to implement the several levels in a different way.

The aggregation approach aims to have students examine contract law in an international context in elective subjects which might be, for example, Transnational Contract Law, Comparative Contract Law or Chinese Contract Law.

Such subjects would, obviously, require the core subject Contract Law as a prerequisite. Such an elective subject would help students ‘acquire an appreciation of the diversity of national contract law regimes’, ‘sensitises students to the world beyond the system that they are currently studying’ and ‘provides them with a basis for understanding the challenges of dealing with transnational activity’.

The integration approach integrates into the study of contract law in the core subject/s one or more international comparative contexts based on at least one other jurisdiction.

For example students might, near the beginning of the subject, undertake a comparative study of what elements are required to establish a contract in Australia and one or more selected jurisdictions.  Later in the subject they might study the effect of misrepresentation on a contract in both Australia and one other jurisdiction, possibly a non-common law jurisdiction.

The immersion approach contemplates students studying contract law in situ in another jurisdiction.

A curriculum framework for each of the three options open to law schools – aggregation, integration and immersion, is as follows:

Level 1: Aggregation
Level 2: Integration
Level 3: Immersion
  • Students will understand the contract law of another jurisdiction, or aspects of contract law from an international perspective.
  • Students will be able to investigate, analyse and compare Australian contract law with at least one international jurisdiction.
  • Students will be able to investigate, analyse and apply fundamental principles of contract law governing international commerce.
  • General knowledge of principles, legislation and cases in contract law within selected specialist area.
  • Comparative knowledge of relevant contract law concepts, principles, legislation and cases relating to contract law in Australia and at least one other jurisdiction.
  • Advanced knowledge of the principles, legislation and cases relating to contract law in another jurisdiction, either alone or comparatively.
  • Basic awareness of the need for cross-cultural communication.
  • Basic research skills in relation to contract law.
  • Basic analytical, interpretive and problem solving skills in the context of contract law.
  • Good written communication skills to advise persons from another jurisdiction in relation to contract law.
  • Good research skills to research contract law and legal issues and transactions in different jurisdictions.
  • Good analytical, interpretive and problem solving skills to resolve contract problems involving a degree of complexity.
  • Advanced skills in cross cultural communication.
  • Advanced skills to research contract problems in their context.
  • Advanced analytical, interpretive and problem solving skills to resolve complex contract problems.
  • Ability to communicate in a second language, where applicable.
  • Appreciation of cultural diversity and the contributions to the law of different cultures, values and belief systems.
  • Capacity to build relationships and adapt to different contexts to address contract law issues across cultures and jurisdictions.
  • Expertise in building relationships across cultures in the context of international contracts.
Teaching/learning methods
  • Inclusion of seminal contract law cases from selected other jurisdiction/s.
  • Comparative integration of contract law content from selected other jurisdiction/s.
  • Consideration of materials and cases from selected other jurisdiction/s.
  • Immersion in contract law content and perspectives of other country.
  • Inclusion of detailed and complex case studies from several jurisdictions.
Materials  & resources
  • Contract law materials and other resources from other jurisdiction/s.
  • Contract law materials and other resources from other jurisdiction/s.
  • Contract law materials and resources in the jurisdiction in which students are studying.
Student experience
  • Engagement with overseas students studying in the law school.
  • Engagement for those students studying overseas with international student peers.
  • Engagement with international student peers in solving contract law problems together.
  • Students exposed to visiting international guest speakers.
  • Students engaged in immersion programs experience interaction with other students in their home environment, with law teachers, and legal institutions.
  • Assessments in specialist contract law subjects/units include problem-solving activities incorporating contract law examples from other jurisdictions, or case note that discusses and explains a recent contact-related decision that has an international element.
  • Assessments include contractual problem solving activities involving more than one legal jurisdiction.
  • Students are assessed in accordance with the requirements of the overseas law school, and possibly in a foreign language.