LAW4801 Research Project

Brief outline of LAW4801 Research Project

A student undertaking LAW4801 Research Project will be "attached" to a particular elective unit (the “host unit”). You will attend classes for the host unit in the regular way, and will (amongst other things) write a research paper on a topic set by the host unit's Chief Examiner that pertains to the subject-matter of the host unit. Please see the table located at the end of these guidelines for a list of the host units available in 2020, as well as the essay topics pertaining to those units (where these have been made available).

A maximum of 10 students will be attached to each host unit for the purposes of Research Project.

Although students will normally write research papers individually, students may, at the discretion of the Chief Examiner of the relevant host unit, undertake Research Unit in groups of 3 or 4.

Eligibility and prerequisites

There is no minimum GPA requirement for entry into the Research Project, however eligibility for entry into the Research Project relies on you having completed the following prerequisite subjects:

  • LAW1111 Foundations of Law
  • LAW1112 Public Law and Statutory Interpretation
  • LAW1113 Torts
  • LAW1114 Criminal Law 1
  • LAW2101 Contract A
  • LAW2102 Contract B
  • LAW2111 Constitutional Law
  • LAW2112 Property A
  • LAW3111 Equity
  • LAW3112 Corporations Law
  • LAW3402 Property B
  • And any three Law elective units.

Enrolling in LAW4801 Research Project

Eligible students will enrol through the Web Enrolment System (WES) in the usual way, however there is an additional step required in Moodle for students to select their ‘host unit’.  Please ensure that you make your selection carefully as once you have selected a host unit, it is unable to be changed.

Please follow the below steps to enrol in LAW4801 Research Project:

  1. Enrol in LAW4801 Research Project through the Web Enrolment System (WES).  For assistance with enrolling through WES, please visit the WES help for coursework students web page.
  2. Identify your host unit preference from the list available (see below ‘Research Project host units for 2020 and research project topics’.
  3. Approximately two weeks prior to the beginning of the semester in which you have enrolled in Research Project, you will receive notification that you may now nominate your Host Unit. Once you have received that notification, enter Moodle and log in using your student ID and password.  For assistance with Moodle, please visit the Moodle Support for Students web page.
  4. Select LAW4801 Research project
  5. Under ‘Choosing your host unit’, click on ‘Host unit selection’.
  6. Select your host unit and click on ‘Save my choice’.**

**Please make your selection carefully.  Once you have selected a host unit, it cannot be changed. **

Approximately two weeks prior to the beginning of the semester in which you have enrolled in Research Project (ie semester 1 or semester 2), you will be notified that you will be able to nominate your Host Unit for the subject by way of the process described above.


We will endeavour to give each student their first preference of host unit, however the limit of 10 students per host unit means this may not always be possible.

In circumstances where more than 10 students wish to be allocated to a particular elective unit as the host unit for Research Project, enrolment will be based on a first come, first served basis. Students will assign themselves to the host unit in accordance with the availability of places in the host units, each of which has a quota.

Interaction with other units

You cannot enrol in Research Project unless you meet the prerequisites set out earlier in these guidelines. The prerequisites include successful completion of at least three other law elective units. Your enrolment in Research Project is otherwise independent of your enrolment in other elective units, even if that elective unit is your host unit for the purposes of Research Project.

This means that a student may be allocated to a particular host unit whether or not that student has previously undertaken that unit. Likewise, a student may enrol in an elective unit at the same time as that student is allocated to it as Research Project host unit.

For example, a student who is enrolled in Research Project in semester 2 2020 may be allocated LAW4129 Law and Discrimination as host unit whether or not that student has previously undertaken LAW4129. Likewise, a student who is enrolled in Research Project in semester 2 2020 with LAW4129 Law and Discrimination as host unit may also, at the same time, enrol in LAW4129 in the normal fashion.


For students who complete the research project as an individual activity:

1. Research skills modules (designed to help students develop the necessary skills to plain, research and write their research project) and quiz, completed online (10%)

2. Project plan (10%)

3. Research Project paper (4,000 words) (80%)

For students who complete the research project as a group activity:

1. Research skills modules and quiz completed online (10%)

2. Project plan - group activity (10%)

3. Online reflective journal entries on the conduct of the project - individual activity (10%)

4. Research Project paper (8,000 words) - group activity (70%)

Consultation with lecturers

The host unit classes that Research Project students attend will give them a suitable foundation for undertaking their research and completing their assessment tasks. This means that lecturers will not, in the normal course,be able to provide students with substantive feedback on any of the items listed under “Assessment” above, prior to submission. For example, they will not be able to tell students if their interpretation of the law regarding a certain matter is correct. Lecturers will not be able to read drafts of any of the items listed under “Assessment” above.

However, during one of weeks five, six or seven of the semester there will be a one hour class for each host unit (normally immediately after one of the normal classes for the unit) which is solely for Research Project students allocated to that unit. During this class, Research Project students will have the opportunity to discuss their Research Project progress with the Chief Examiner. For instance, you may seek advice about research and writing generally, or about particular difficulties you are having with the materials covered in lectures or with the writing of your Research Project paper.

Research Project host units for 2020, and research project topics

The following elective units are available as host units, for the purposes of Research Paper, in 2020.

Semester 1


Chief Examiner


LAW4113 Current problems in criminal lawDr Stephen Gray

1. Sally Kift has argued that the following failure to rescue offence should be enacted in Australia (Sally Kift, Criminal Liability and the Bad Samaritan: Failure to Rescue Provisions in the Criminal Law: Part II, (1997) 1 Macarthur L. Rev. 212, at p. 279):

“(1) Every one commits a crime who, realising that a person is in immediate danger of death or serious harm, omits to take reasonable steps to aid that person.

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to a person who cannot render aid without incurring a risk of death or serious harm to [him/herself] or another person or for any other valid reason.”

Should a failure to rescue offence be enacted in Victorian law, and if so, what form should it take?

LAW4122 International law

Professor Jean AllainIn light of the existential crisis of global warming, what normative and structural changes have to take place to the international system of governance to ensure a safe planet?
LAW4130 Law and social theoryAssociate Professor Patrick EmertonIs law a source of social integration, an impediment to social integration, or neither? In answering this question, you must consider the relevance of the differentiation of roles that is characteristic of contemporary society.
LAW4193 Biotechnology and the lawAssociate Professor Karrine LudlowINVOcell is one brand of a new reproductive technology available in some overseas jurisdictions (such as the USA), but not in Australia.  Discuss the legal challenges around the introduction of the technology in Victoria and what approach you prefer. Explain your response.

Note that while ethical concerns may be noted in your answer, analysis of the correctness or otherwise of such ethical concerns will not be relevant in the assessment of the paper. Also, you can assume that I understand the science and you need only explain scientific techniques where useful for your essay.
LAW4244 Construction law (dispute resolution)Professor Paula GerberParties to a construction dispute should be required to participate in mediation as a condition precedent to commencing litigation or arbitration." Do you agree with this assertion? Justify your answer.

LAW4301 Advanced torts

Associate Professor Norman WitzlebClimate change activists have identified strategic litigation as a means of achieving greenhouse gas emissions targets. Analyse critically the role that torts law, in particular negligence liability, could play in holding Australian governments directly accountable for their climate change (in)action. Consider in particular how international legal developments, such as the Urgenda litigation in the Netherlands, could be leveraged in the Australian context.
LAW4313 International environmental lawAssociate Professor Gerry NagtzaamHow can international environmental law best deal with the issue of plastic pollution?

LAW4316 Media law 1

Dr Sharon RodrickSection 121 of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) gives too much weight to privacy and dignity interests and not enough weight to open justice. It is likely that the family courts would get more coverage in the media - thereby enhancing open justice - if the publication restrictions in s 121 were eased. Do you agree? If so, what changes would you make to the section?
LAW4342 Patents, trade marks and unfair competitionProfessor Mark Davison
Provide a detailed analysis of the treatment in Italian and EU law of the term 'Nero d'Avola' as a geographical indication and/or as a grape or vine variety. In particular, identify Italian government documents describing Nero d'Avola as a grape or vine variety and any Italian government documents
declaring it to be a geographical indication for the purposes of the Italian DOC, DOCG and IGT wine labels.
Identify whether it has been registered as a PDO or PGI by the European Union.
Also identify leading wine and grape variety books that describe Nero d'Avola and identify it as either a geographical indication or a grape variety or both.
Explain how, if at all, Nero d'Avola meets the definition of a geographical indication in Article 22 of TRIPs in light of that analysis.
LAW4702 Competition and consumer lawMel MarquisSection 46 of the Competition and Consumer Act was revised in late 2017.  Apply – retroactively and hypothetically – the current principles of Section 46 (i.e., as they are understood today) to the landmark case law decided under the ‘old’ Section 46 in order to show how those cases would be – or would not be, as the case may be – decided differently today.

LAW4704 Taxation law

Professor Stephen BarkoczyIn Sun Newspapers Ltd v FC of T (1938) 61 CLR 337, Dixon J indicated that there were three matters to take into account in distinguishing between revenue and capital expenditure. What are the three matters and what do they mean? How have subsequent courts dealt with the three matters and has their approach been consistent?

Semester 2

Unit Chief ExaminerTopic

LAW4155 International human rights law

Kevin BellQuestion 1: Issues of causation, attribution and standing in climate litigation
(a) Climate litigation and the issue of causation: (i) What is the current status of
science in terms of establishing nexus between global warming and specific climatic
events, such as typhoons, draughts?; AND (ii) How are the courts dealing with this
level of scientific understanding of the nexus between global warming and specific
events when looking at causation? The issue here is that many cases are dismissed
due to the difficulty of establishing causation.
(b) Climate litigation and the issue of attribution: How do courts resolve the
issue of attribution to hold particular actors legally accountable for its contribution
to climate change? E.g. can company X’s acts/omissions be linked to climate
(c) Climate litigation and the issue of standing: How do courts resolve the issue
of standing in climate litigation cases? Are there good legal theories and/or practices
that tilt the issue of legal standing in favour of the plaintiff? A key case to look at in
respect of this question is the Dutch Supreme Court case Urgenda. It may also be
useful to look at Australia and New Zealand
Students may choose to answer all of these questions or focus on questions (a) and (b)
together without answering question (c) OR focus on question (c) without answering
questions (a) and (b).
These questions are being examined as part of a program of co-operation between the
Castan Centre for Human Rights Law and the Philippines Commission on Human Rights.
Question 2: homelessness
(a) Homelessness and human rights: why is homelessness a serious human
rights violation and who is responsible for it? On the issue of violation, focus upon
the human rights that are violated, being careful to cover both the civil and political
rights and the economic, social and cultural rights, as well as cross-overs between
the two. On the issue of responsibility, focus upon the human rights obligations of
states under international human rights law, including federal states like Australia
(b) Homelessness and the right to housing: Would incorporation of the right to
adequate housing in legislation contribute to ending homelessness and how. In the
Australian context, would this depend upon whether the legislation was state for
federal. Would the answer be different if the right was incorporated in the federal
Constitution? Answer both questions for question 2.
LAW4158 Indigenous people and the lawDr Stephen Gray/Kevin Bell

In 1991, the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody found that Aboriginal over-representation in custody was the product of the unduly harsh operation of the criminal justice system on Aboriginal people.  In particular this was true of minor offences such as offences related to public drunkenness and offensive behaviour.  Governments duly promised to improve this situation, but little of practical value has been done.  Nearly thirty years later, these same minor offences continue to be largely responsible for the escalating rate of Aboriginal imprisonment.

Consider this view, and consider also what measures if any governments should take to reduce the current level of Indigenous over-representation in custody.


The First Peoples’ Assembly and the Victorian government are negotiating a treaty-negotiating framework under the Advancing the Treaty Process with Aboriginal Victorians Act 2018 (Vic).  It is hoped that this framework will lead to a Victorian treaty that will be part of a broader justice and reconciliation process.

What (if any) contribution to Indigenous self-determination a state-based treaty might make
what (if any) contribution will be made by the processes set out in the Act to broader justice and reconciliation

In your discussion, include consideration of:
Whether the lack of federal constitutional protection of Indigenous people and peoples from race-based laws undermines any likely benefits of the processes under the Act.

LAW4198 Australian commercial lawDrossos StamboulakisVarious proposals have arisen to establish a court styled as an Australian International Commercial Court, to attract and more effectively resolve commercial disputes with an international dimension. Set out and critically evaluate the desirability of such an initiative.

LAW4230 Animal law

Dr Joanna Kyriakakis

In some instances, it is crucial that courts be able to hear evidence that has been obtained illegally, due to overwhelming public interest considerations. The prosecution of serious animal cruelty is one such category of cases, where the law must favour prosecution.

Critically discuss whether you agree or disagree with this statement, and whether it accurately reflects the law on this issue in Australia, in light of the recent judgment of the High Court in Kadir v The Queen; Grech v the Queen [2020] HCA 1.

LAW4537 Public policy, regulation and the lawProfessor Graeme Hodge“Public policy priorities of Australian governments have more to do with random chance, wealth and power than a rational decision making process and good public policy objectives”. Analyze this assertion using concepts from LAW4537 and employing relevant case studies to support a balanced assessment of the statement.

LAW4671 Private Investment law

Professor Stephen Barkoczy/Tamara WilkinsonThe Australian Government has recently introduced a Bill to reform its Research and Development (R&D) Tax Incentive, including by introducing a new 'intensity premium'. Explain why the Government wants to introduce this premium and the effects that it is likely to have on R&D in Australia. Explore the approaches other countries may have used to encourage R&D intensity under their tax incentive schemes and make suggestions as to how you think Australia may benefit from these approaches.
LAW4702 Competition and consumer lawMel MarquisAustralia has chosen to house core aspects of economic regulation (e.g., in gas, electricity, transport, telecoms, broadband, and postal services) within the same public authority that also enforces competition law and consumer protection law.  Develop a comparative institutional analysis which, taking account of relevant international experience, discusses the arguments for and against this combination of competences, and argue (on the basis of the comparative analysis and any other relevant evidence, such as case practice and scholarly literature) in support of your own conclusions regarding this institutional configuration.  These conclusions may include, among other findings, recommendations for productive reform.

LAW4704 Taxation law

Professor Stephen BarkoczyIt has been said that 'a mere saving of expenditure does not constitute income'. Discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with this statement and provide cases to support your arguments and the reasons for your conclusion.

Contact information

For further information about the Research Project unit, please contact one of the following, preferably by email:

  1. Law Undergraduate Student Services

    Phone: Monash Connect Contact Centre on 1800 MONASH (1800 666 274)

    Online: Ask.Monash

  2. Associate Professor Gerry Nagtzaam
    Phone: +61 3 9905 3330, Email: