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Establishing the task

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Which of the following two statements best summarises what you need to demonstrate in your assignment?





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Knowing about the law and its processes is clearly vital, but alone it is not enough. You need to be able to use that information to address a particular problem or issue. Therefore, you need to be clear about what you need to do as well as about what you need to know. Skills are as important as knowledge. Therefore, B is a more comprehensive statement.

When you first read your assignment topic, identify what content you must deal with, but also identify how you are to deal with it.

You do not organise your essay around what you know, but around what you are trying to achieve. If you are clear what you must achieve, you will be able to structure your research for the essay more effectively, and read materials more purposefully and effectively. An assignment does not require you to simply reproduce knowledge, it requires you to use it.


It is essential that you understand what your assignment topic requires you to do.

Look at the following assignment topic and identify the question and instruction words which tell you what you must do

Choose a civil liberty that interests you. How adequately does the statute and common law which applies in Victoria and the Commonwealth protect that liberty? Compare the level of protection in Australia with that in some other country.

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Decide how adequate the protection of this civil liberty is, and compare the protection in Australia with that in some other country


Assignment topics usually make quite clear what your task is by using clear instruction words or phrases. In the following assignment topic there are three quite separate tasks, each clearly set out. The crucial words directing you are set in bold.

Choose a civil liberty that interests you. How adequately does the statute and common law which applies in Victoria and the Commonwealth protect that liberty? Compare the level of protection in Australia with that in some other country.

Look at the following assignment topic and identify the crucial instruction words or phrases.

It has been suggested by Helga Kuhse and Peter Singer in their article, 'Active Voluntary Euthanasia, Morality and the Law' (1995) 3 Journal of Law and Medicine 129, that the primary focus in determining the legal permissibility of medical end-of-life decisions should be the issue of patient consent rather than the subjective intention of the doctor or nurses. Comment critically on this position, referring to the current legal position in Victoria, and contrasting this with the approach taken in some overseas jurisdiction.

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The crucial words are in bold:

It has been suggested by Helga Kuhse and Peter Singer in their article, 'Active Voluntary Euthanasia, Morality and the Law' (1995) 3 Journal of Law and Medicine 129, that the primary focus in determining the legal permissibility of medical end-of-life decisions should be the issue of patient consent rather than the subjective intention of the doctor or nurses. Comment critically on the position taken by Kuhse and Singer, referring to the current legal position in Victoria, and contrasting the approach in Victoria with that in some other country.

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