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Unit of study_

LAWS5184: Secured Transactions in Commercial Law

Semester 2, 2021 [Normal day] - Remote

The process of creating effective security interests in personal property to secure performance of contractual obligations is a critical component of commercial dealings and financings. This unit examines how security may be taken over common forms of personal property through a detailed analysis of the legislative regime established by the Personal Property Securities Act 2009 (Cth). Providing an overview of the historical and economic development of the law in this area, the unit explores the rationale for the comprehensive legislation as well as its underlying general principles. An international and comparative perspective is offered through references to the Canadian and New Zealand experience in introducing equivalent statutory frameworks, with part of the course materials drawn from these jurisdictions.

Unit details and rules

Unit code LAWS5184
Academic unit Law
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Sheelagh McCracken,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Final exam (Take-home short release) Type D final exam Final 2 hour (plus 30 minutes reading time) take home exam
2 problem based discussion questions
60% Formal exam period 2 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Assignment Assignment
Problem based discussion question
40% Week 08
Due date: 05 Oct 2021 at 12:00

Closing date: 21 Oct 2021
3,000 words / 32 days
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Type D final exam = Type D final exam ?

Assessment summary

Assignment (40%):

This problem-based task will assess each student’s ability to: (i) correctly identify the legal issues that arise from the given facts (noting any areas of factual uncertainty); (ii) correctly identify the legal rules that are relevant to those issues (noting any areas of legal uncertainty); (iii) correctly apply the relevant rules to the issues so as to reach appropriate conclusions; (iv) develop arguments in a logical manner and by reference to statutory provisions and case law; and (v) employ a succinct and grammatically correct writing style.

The assignment will require a reasoned response of a maximum of 3,000 words to a problem question addressing issues covered up to (and including) the topic of perfection, thereby providing you with the opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of the unit’s content and develop and practise the skills identified in the unit’s learning outcomes. The assignment provides practice for the final exam, which in turn provides a further opportunity for demonstration of knowledge and for development and practice of skills.

Assignment is due for release on Friday 3 September 2021 and due for submission on Tuesday 5 October 2021. The closing date is Thursday 21 October. Special Consideration after that date leads to an alternative essay-style assignment. 

Final Take Home Exam (60%):

The exam will be held during the formal exam period.

2 hour online exam, plus 30 minutes reading time. 2 problem based discussion questions testing same ability as the assignment, with maximum word limit for exam of 3,000 words.

IMPORTANT NOTE: A student must make a genuine attempt at all assessment tasks set out in this Unit of Study in order to obtain a Pass mark and grade (or above); otherwise an Absent Fail grade will be recorded as the student’s result for this Unit of Study.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

• Completely answers the question.
• Contains striking originality of approach or analysis.
• Demonstrates exhaustive or innovative research (where independent research
• Exceptionally well written, structured and expressed.
• Is otherwise exceptional in some way.


75 - 84

• Completely answers the question.
• Achieves a critical and evaluative approach to the issues.
• Content and structure is well organised in support of the argument.
• Demonstrates extensive research and analysis to support a well-documented
• Generally well expressed and free from errors.
• Has a clear structure and is well articulated.


65 - 74

• Covers main issues fairly well in answering the question.
• Contains no significant errors
• Demonstrates an attempted critical approach to the issues.
• Demonstrates reasonably sound research and analysis in addressing the key issues.
• Has a clear structure and reasonably clear expression.


50 - 64

• Identifies the key issues, but does not follow through with a reasoned argument.
• Contains some significant errors.
• Displays satisfactory engagement with the key issues.
• Offers descriptive summary of material relevant to the question.
• Superficial use of material, and may display a tendency to paraphrase.
• Demonstrates little evidence of in-depth research or analysis.
• Adequate expression.
• Overall, demonstrates the minimum level of competence in the assessment and
satisfies the requirements to proceed to higher-level studies in the degree or subject


0 - 49

• Does not answer the question.
• Contains significant or numerous errors.
• Few or no identifiable arguments.
• Content that is inappropriate or irrelevant.
• Lack of research or analysis.
• Difficult or impossible to understand through poor grammar, expression or
• Overall, does not demonstrate the minimum level of competence in the

For more information see

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

This unit has an exception to the standard University policy or supplementary information has been provided by the unit coordinator. This information is displayed below:

The late submission of a piece of assessment, which has not been granted an extension, will attract a penalty of 10% of the total marks available for the piece of assessment per calendar day or part thereof. Late penalties do not apply to exam, and any late submission after the deadline will not be accepted.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week -01 Overview of the PPSA and equivalent New Zealand and Canadian legislation Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 01 Security regimes and their relationship with the general law; terminology Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
The concept of property under the PPSA Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 02 Identifying a personal property security interest Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Identifying a personal property security interest (continued) Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 03 Attachment Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Enforceability against 3rd parties Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 04 Perfection Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Perfection (continued) Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 06 Review: discussion problems Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Priority Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 07 Priority (continued) Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Accessions and comingling Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 09 Taking free rules Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Proceeds Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 10 Enforcement Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Impact of Insolvency Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 11 Registration issues Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
The economic importance of security rights Lecture (2 hr) LO1
Week 12 Review Seminar (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4

Attendance and class requirements

Attendance: All students are required to attend 70% of live classes (or as otherwise specified by the Unit Coordinator) to satisfy the pass requirements for each unit of study. Attendance requirements may be satisfied by in person and/or online attendance as specified by the Unit Coordinator. Failure to meet this requirement may result in a student being precluded from sitting the final assessment.

Word count penalty: A piece of assessment which exceeds the prescribed word limit will be read and marked only up to the specified word count.  The total word count for essay and other written assessments will exclude bibliography; footnote numbers; footnote citation; cover page and include body text; headings and sub-headings; quotations; anything other than numbers and citations in footnotes.

Referencing: The Sydney Law School expects you to use the Australian Guide to Legal Citation (4th edition, 2018) for your footnoting style, although you should confirm this with your lecturer, and a link to the library website where this is set out comprehensively is available at

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

You should acquire a copy of the PPSA, together with the Replacement Explanatory Memorandum and the Regulations, all of which can be accessed at . The latest consolidation of the PPSA is at 1 January 2021 (Compilation No 17). (Note that an annotated version, now in its fourth edition published in 2020, is available for purchase.)

You should start familiarising yourselves with the legislative provisions as soon as possible. As the unit focuses on the detailed provisions, you must bring a copy of the PPSA to all classes.

The prescribed textbook is: Sheelagh McCracken, Security Interests: Commentary and Cases, Thomson Reuters, Australia. 

A Reading Guide will be posted to Canvas containing the full list of readings.

Each lecture is pre-recorded. It is anticipated that they will become  available on a Thursday, starting from Week -1. (Thursday 5 August).

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. Develop a conceptual and analytical framework for the PPSA;
  • LO2. Explore the application of the PPSA to common commercial transactions;
  • LO3. Gain experience in statutory interpretation and an appreciation of the role of statute in commercial law;
  • LO4. Obtain a comparative perspective on the Australian legislation through comparing and contrasting legislation of selected PPS jurisdictions.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

No changes have been made since this unit was last offered, other than updating of materials.


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

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