General Course Information

1.1 Course details

Course code: LLAW6259
Course name: Understanding Common Law
Programme offered under: MCL Programme
Semester: First
Prerequisites / Co-requisites: No
Credit point value: Non-credit bearing

1.2 Course description

This course aims to help the students to quickly get adapted to the common law studies in the English environment. For students with educational background in civil law jurisdictions, it is important for them to familiarize themselves with the fundamental principles of structure and operation of both systems. The objective of this course is thus to acquaint the students with fundamental legal concepts, structures and functions of the common law system on the one hand, to familiarize the students with the distinctive language of law used in a variety of legal texts through a focus on legal reading and writing skills, vocabulary knowledge of legal concepts, reasoning and language of problem-question-answers and judgments on the other.

The course, designed to be introductory in nature, is limited to providing an overview of basic concepts in contract law and tort law. The course will address both theoretical and practical aspects of common law. It will start with identifying the basic differences between the common law and civil law systems and the underlying causes for different internal structures and legal principles. It will continue with discussions on major concepts of law of contracts and torts by examining the controlling precedents and illustrative case law.

Important concepts and principles in contract law and tort law covered in this course include contract formation, interpretation, enforcement, contractual remedies, contract assignment, tortious acts, negligence and damages available. The questions raised in the course include the following: 1) what is the difference between common law and equity 2) how does the court interpret an ambiguous contractual provision 3) how can one create an enforceable legal obligation under common law The students shall be able to learn important concepts and principles through lectures, case studies, simulations and role plays.

The practical English language skills, in particular the case-reading skill, will also be taught in this course. The students will have the chance to read and understand cases in common law. More specifically, the following questions will be dealt with in the practical part of the course: 1) what questions must be answered in order to reach a conclusion in the case 2) what is the rule to apply to the issue 3) how does the judges in common law jurisdictions apply the rules to the facts of a particular case 4) what is the result of the case The students will also receive intensive instruction and support in both writing and speaking legal English in the common law jurisdictions.

The students are expected to engage in critical discussions based on assigned reading materials distributed in the course. During the course the students will undertake an oral presentation and at the end of the course the students will be required to undertake a written assignment consisting of problem questions and/or case studies.

This course be assessed on Pass / Fail basis and non-credit bearing.

1.3 Course teachers

Name E-mail address Office Consultation
Course convenor Richard Holt rholt8law@gmail.com TBA By email

Learning Outcomes

2.1 Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs) for this course

CLO 1 Use (including speaking and writing) legal terms and expressions in the common law jurisdiction.

CLO 2 Apply appropriate reading strategies to extract relevant parts of extended legal texts to answer legal problems.

CLO 3 Analyze and evaluate important legal issues in legal cases presented in texts.

CLO 4 Understand difficult ethical and legal problems in disputes relating to contract and tort.

CLO 5 Articulate, in the appropriate sequence, the discourse moves of the Problem-Question-Answer (PQA) genre.

2.2 LLM Programme Learning Outcomes (PLOs)

Please refer to the following link: https://course.law.hku.hk/llm-plo/

2.3 Programme Learning Outcomes to be achieved in this course



3.1 Assessment Summary

Assessment task Due date Weighting Feedback method* Course learning outcomes
Oral presentation TBA 20% 1 1, 2, 3, 5
Written assignments TBA 80% 1 1, 2, 3, 4,
*Feedback method (to be determined by course teacher)
1 A general course report to be disseminated through Moodle
2 Individual feedback to be disseminated by email / through Moodle
3 Individual review meeting upon appointment
4 Group review meeting
5 In-class verbal feedback

3.2 Assessment Detail

100% take-home exam advising on practical problems based on factual scenarios – this 48-hour exam will be released via Moodle. All students are required to submit the exam answer via Moodle. Mark will be deducted for late submission at the rate of 5 percentage points per day or part thereof and no late submission will be accepted after 10 days.

3.3 Grading Criteria

Students will be assessed on pass/fail basis.

Learning Activities

4.1 Learning Activity Plan

Seminar: 18 hours / week for 2 teaching weeks
Private study time: 9.5 hours / week for 12 teaching weeks

Remarks: the normative student study load per credit unit is 25 ± 5 hours (ie. 150 ± 30 hours for a 6-credit course), which includes all learning activities and experiences within and outside of classroom, and any assessment task and examinations and associated preparations.

4.2 Details of Learning Activities

  • Class discussion
  • Group / individual presentation
  • Case-reading

Learning Resources
5.1 Resources

Reading materials: Reading materials are posted on Moodle
Core reading list: TBA
Recommended reading list: TBA

5.2 Links

Please refer to the following link: http://www.law.hku.hk/course/learning-resources/