Understanding case notes and marker expectations

Case note and research assignment tasks are set to assess your understanding and the implications of a case. Your case note instructions may be divided into parts, for example part 1 and part 2, to distinguish between a case note and research assignment, or may require you to write both parts together. Read your assessment instructions carefully.

You can find examples of case notes in:

Once you have seen a few case notes, you will have a feel for the conventions of writing case notes. You can then apply or adapt them as necessary when writing your assignment. This resource will introduce you to case note writing conventions.

Importantly, in a case note assignment, you need to demonstrate that you understand the case, including the legal issues, the reasoning of the judges and the importance or implications of the case. This would normally mean referring to relevant legal rules, both legislative and common law, and explaining what the ambiguity or legal issue was before the court.

When doing a case note assignment, it is important to understand your marker’s expectations. There are many ways to inform yourself about these: marking criteria or rubrics (if provided), your lecturer’s instructions in class and on Moodle, as well as Moodle discussion forums, among others. Take a look at the example assignment instructions below.

1. Write a case note, maximum 1000 words (this limit does not include citations) on the case specified below. The case note should outline the facts and procedural history of the case, and discuss the legal reasoning in detail. Footnotes are not required.

2. Write an analytical essay, maximum 1500 words, explaining the legal significance and any wider consequences of the case This is a research assignment that requires you to make reference to materials beyond those mentioned in the Criminal Law Reading Guide. You must use footnotes and include a full bibliography.


Some assignments will be on recent cases with little to no commentary. Older cases may have more commentary available, and therefore you will likely find more commentary, such as journal articles.

When researching a newer case, try searching using keywords related to the main legal issues in the case, or for other cases referred to by the judges in your case. You can then discuss how your case relates to the history and development of this area of the law. This will help you find relevant resources to support your discussion of more recent cases.

Remember that there is no one format for a case note, so your instructions and marker expectations will vary from unit to unit.

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