LEGAL103-19A (HAM)

Legal Method A

15 Points

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Division of Arts Law Psychology & Social Sciences
Te Piringa - Faculty of Law
Faculty of Law Dean's Office


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  • Calling +64 7 838 4466 select option 1, then enter the extension.
  • Extensions starting with 4, 5, 9 or 3 can also be direct dialled:
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Paper Description

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This paper introduces students to the study and practice of law in New Zealand. With a particular focus on criminal law, the paper will teach you the basics of legal method, including legal research, reasoning, opinion writing, statutory interpretation and case analysis.

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Paper Structure

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The paper is taught by way of an hourly lecture and a two-hour weekly workshop throughout the semester.
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Learning Outcomes

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Students who successfully complete the course should be able to:

  • Gain knowledge and understanding of the sources of law, the doctrine of precedent, forms of legal reasoning, the legislative process, legal writing, and the principles of statutory interpretation;
    Linked to the following assessments:
  • Develop an ability to analyse common law and statutory interpretation cases;
    Linked to the following assessments:
  • Acquire knowledge and understanding of common print and electronic legal research resources and methods of information retrieval;
    Linked to the following assessments:
  • Develop an ability to communicate successfully in written and oral legal contexts;
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  • Develop organisational skills and punctuality in terms of work outputs; and
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  • Develop self­-directed learning skills.
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Research skills online module

Students will receive further instructions regarding this module at the beginning of the paper. The module must be completed by the time teaching on the paper finishes (Friday 31 May, 2019).

In-class participation

Attendance at lectures and workshops is compulsory. Furthermore students are expected to prepare for each workshop by reading the materials listed in the paper outline and/or directed to by lecturers, and to participate in workshop discussion and activities. By regularly engaging in this way students will accumulate up to a total of 10 marks (10%) of credit for the paper.

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Assessment Components

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The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0. There is no final exam. The final exam makes up 0% of the overall mark.

The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0 or 0:0, whichever is more favourable for the student. The final exam makes up either 0% or 0% of the overall mark.

Component DescriptionDue Date TimePercentage of overall markSubmission MethodCompulsory
1. Research skills online module
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
2. Group presentation
18 Mar 2019
No set time
  • In Class: In Workshop
3. Case analysis assignment
29 Apr 2019
5:00 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
4. Legal opinion
27 May 2019
5:00 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
5. In-class participation
  • In Class: In Workshop
Assessment Total:     100    
Failing to complete a compulsory assessment component of a paper will result in an IC grade
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Required and Recommended Readings

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Required Readings

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You must purchase or secure copies of both of the following books (and bring them to lectures and workshops):

  • McLay, Murray & Orpin, New Zealand Law Style Guide, (3rd ed, Wellington, Thomson Reuters, 2018) (available from Bennetts Bookshop)
  • Penk & Russell, New Zealand law: Foundations and Method (2nd ed, Wellington, Thomson Reuters, 2018) (available from Bennetts Bookshop)

Note that the readings set out in the lecture schedule above are general readings only. You will also be directed to more specific readings such as statutes and cases throughout the course.

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Recommended Readings

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We strongly recommend that you consult the following texts in order to enhance your understanding of the course content. You are not required to purchase these and can borrow them from the Law Library.

  • J.F. Burrows Statute Law in New Zealand (4th ed, Wellington, LexisNexis, 2009)
  • M. Russell (Ed) Legal Research in New Zealand (Wellington, LexisNexis, 2016)
  • S. Penk & M. Russell New Zealand Legal Method Handbook (Wellington, Thomson Reuters NZ Ltd, 2014)
  • P. Spiller (Ed) Butterworths New Zealand Law Dictionary (8th ed, Wellington, LexisNexis NZ Ltd, 2014)
  • R. Scragg (ed) Legal Writing A Complete Guide for a Career in Law (Wellington, LexisNexis NZ Ltd, 2015)
  • R. Scragg The Principles of Legal Method in New Zealand (2nd ed, Australia, Oxford University Press, 2009)
  • D Webb, K Sanders & P. Scott The New Zealand Legal System: Structures and Processes (5th ed, Wellington, LexisNexis, 2010)

Note: One of each of the above texts will be put on Course Reserve in the Library for students.

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Other Resources

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You may find the following publications useful as you embark on your law studies.

  • M. Brogan & D. Spencer Surviving Law School (2nd ed, Australia, Oxford University Press, 2008)
  • New Zealand Law Students’ Association Mental Wellness Guide Book for New Zealand Law Students (available at:­content/uploads/2013/08/Mental­Wellness­Book­.pdf)
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Online Support

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When you enrol, you will provide (or be assigned) an email address, and will be given access to Moodle.

Email is the main means by which teaching staff, Te Piringa - Faculty of Law and the University communicate to students. You should therefore check your emails daily.

Moodle is the University of Waikato online learning system, and is accessible at: Important information concerning your courses will be posted on Moodle, including any changes to the lecture or workshop schedule. Teachers may place lecture slides, additional readings and assessment information on Moodle. You should therefore check Moodle at least weekly.

The University of Waikato owns the intellectual property rights in any materials on Moodle, and accordingly you are given access to that material on the following terms:

The University of Waikato owns the intellectual property rights, including copyright, in and to this site, or has acquired the necessary licenses to display the material on the site. As a student of the Te Piringa Faculty of Law, you are granted a limited license to use (access, display or print a single copy) the material from the papers in which you are enrolled for the purposes of participating in the paper only, provided the information is not modified. Materials may not under any circumstances be copied, stored, distributed or provided in any form or method whatsoever to any third party. Any other use of the material is prohibited. None of the material may be otherwise reproduced, reformatted, republished or re­disseminated in any manner or form without the prior written consent of University of Waikato. To obtain such consent, please contact the Te Piringa - Faculty of Law.

If you require assistance with Moodle, or encounter any problems with it, please contact the Help Desk. You can send a message tothe Help Desk by using the instant message service in your paper (from the Participants list within the People block). Alternatively, you can email them directly at or call 838 4008.

Te Piringa - Faculty of Law will send you regular newsletters via email. These newsletters contain updates, articles and notices relevant to law students. It is important that you review this newsletter for information that concerns you.
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University study requires that you take charge of your own learning. The teachers are here to impart information, provide guidance and support, and to challenge you to rise to higher levels of achievement. However, it is entirely your responsibility to ensure that you prepare and participate fully in your learning by:

  • Reviewing the set readings contained in the Course Materials book and any other materials the teacher specifies;
  • Attending all lectures and workshops and taking good notes about what you are taught;
  • Completing and correctly submitting all assessments (including ensuring that you have all relevant information required to do so);
  • Checking your emails daily, and accessing Moodle at least weekly, so as to be aware of any updates and other information sent by the teaching staff, Te Piringa - Faculty of Law, and the University;
  • Managing your time so as to ensure you meet your commitments in this course and your other courses; and
  • Looking after your personal well­-being and seeking appropriate assistance where needed.

You should expect to spend approximately 150 hours in total on this paper. In addition to attending the lectures and workshops and reviewing your notes taken during these, you will need to spend time reviewing the set readings contained in the Course Materials book and any other materials the teacher specifies. Assignments will require you to devote sustained periods to reading, researching and writing. It is therefore important that you develop good time management skills.

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Linkages to Other Papers

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Legal Method is part of the Year 1 programme and its content has links to Legal Systems and Societies, as well as Public Law in year 2.

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