NBC3005 Construction Law: Overview

A guide to resources for NBC3005

About this guide

This guide provides a starting point for finding and using resources in the VU Library that will support the NBC3005, Construction Law unit.

< Use the side menu to explore the contents of this guide.

On this page

Welcome Video

Finding information

Do you know what you are looking for? 
Think about what types of information you would require in order to tackle your assignment, e.g. textbooks, handbooks or manuals, ebooks, research articles, standards, government publications? Write down any significant words (keywords) that describe your topic.

Course or unit coordinators generally provide a list of references (reading material) linked to a unit that is a good starting point for getting familiar with the topic. If the reading list is not provided, then you can start with a textbook, encyclopedia or a subject dictionary to gain a basic understanding of the topic.

Know where to look for information sources
Use the Library Search, the library’s discovery platform to find library resources. The Library Search enables you to search across the range of library’s online and print resources in one search. View the results of your search in the retrieved list of records. Each record gives brief bibliographic details of the item and either a link that provides the full access to the item, or the information about the item’s location including how many copies are available.

Library catalogue
The classic library catalogue is still available and convenient as it allows for field searching (e.g. unit code) that the Library Search does not allow for. It is also the fastest tool for looking up the exact title or the author you are looking for.

For more information on using e-books, books, and journal articles view the Books & eBooks, or Databases & journals tabs.

Browse the shelves
A number of useful print material is available on the library shelves. A book is shelved according to its call number. Call numbers group similar subjects together on the library shelves. View the subject areas and call number ranges that are typically relevant to Construction Law in Australia.

What are keywords?

Keywords (or key words) are words that tell you what approach you should take when answering an assignment question. 

Keywords can include content (topic), limiting (restricting), and task (instruction) words.

Assignment example:

"A contractor has been hired to develop a new student accommodation at ‘X’ University due for the completion by the Semester 1. The contractor is in the breach of contract in regard to the completion date of the construction project caused by a delay in the late delivery of 200 bags of Portland cement. The construction company ordered the 200 bags of Portland Cement from the Cement Wholesalers and paid in advance. However, the delivery of the cement was delayed by the natural causes, the floods. Does the employer have the right not to complete or terminate the contract?​"

    Content Words      

  • Tell you what the topic area is.
  • Help you to focus your research and reading on the correct area.
  • Think about synonyms or similar words.    
  • e.g. in this example: a construction project, contractor, or a breach of contract.

    Limiting Words 

  • Tell you what area(s) to focus on, e.g. completion date, or delay.
  • Define the topic area further, e.g. delay caused by late delivery of cement.
  • Indicate aspects of the topic area you should narrowly concentrate on, e.g. floods or natural cause.

    Task Words

  • Tell you what to do; the action(s) you need to perform, e.g. compare, contrast, describe, summarise, i.e. resolve construction dispute, as in this example.

Concept searching

Apart from the identified keywords, it may be necessary to use the concepts that have not been explicitly mentioned but are implied in the topic as they will relate to this case, such as 'law' or 'legislation'.

When you are searching for information for an essay question, assignment or project, use the identified content and limiting keywords, or concepts, to search for the information sources in our Library Search and online.

Keyword search strategies

Sample assignment topic: "The contractor is in the breach of contract in regard to the completion date of the construction project caused by a natural cause and thus a delay which resulted in the late delivery of 200 bags of Portland cement. Does the employer have the right not to complete or terminate the contract?​"

Once you have analysed your topic and done some preliminary reading, you are ready to break down the chosen research topic into key concepts selected from both the topic and your readings. It is best to identify 2 to 4 key concepts, with each concept containing up to 2 words, which will serve as keywords or concepts (search terms) you'll type in Library Search to find relevant resources.  You might need to build separate search strategies for different aspects of your research as well as use a variety of keywords or concepts to ensure you cover all aspects of the topic.

For example, focusing on the assignment topic, listed are the main concepts or keywords: 'construction project delay', and 'law', and the narrower concepts, such as 'natural cause'Alternatively, you could use synonymous (related), or broader and narrower terms, such as:

construction contract

construction disputes

construction delay

project completion date

construction delay law


damages for delays

delay clause

construction delay claim

impacts of delay project delivery

construction industry

conflict of laws

delay or disruption

construction dispute resolution

Apply the following strategies to combine them:

  • for a basic search, enter the identified keywords in the Library Search field, for example: construction disputes
  • you can combine keywords with some other aspects of your research, for example, you can combine 'construction disputes' and 'resolution' in your searches by using the Boolean operators (AND, OR & NOT) for narrowing or broadening your searches, or for excluding some search terms from your searches, if appropriate. The use of Boolean operators allows for constructing more complex search statements, for example:

  construction delays AND (law OR legislation)

  • think of possible synonyms and related words or phrases, for example, 'delay' OR 'disruption
  • search exact phrases by enclosing the phrase in quotes, for example, "construction disputes"
  • find a term with various endings by using as a truncation symbol represented by an asterisk (*), for example, construc* will retrieve construct, construction, constructions, and constructional 
  • group related or synonymous terms together by placing them in parentheses, for example, (law OR legislation OR dispute* OR claims OR). Also consider the Australian English and American English spelling of words. 

Boolean Operators

Construction Law Boolean Operators

Boolean Operators are the words AND, OR, and NOT used in library databases that can make searches more precise, and save you time by removing the need to go through all the search results in order to find the most relevant articles. For example, when searching on the topic of "construction disputes', you could apply the following terms and operators:

AND narrows the search resulting in more focused results, for instance, searching for  “construction” AND "disputes," all articles in your result will include both concepts (keywords)

OR broadens the search by instructing the database to search for any of the words, which is particularly useful for synonyms or related terms, i.e. “law” OR “legislation” OR “claims

NOT narrows the search by instructing the database to remove all unnecessary search results, for example “property” NOT “land rights


The Library Search

The Library Search is a good starting point for researching any topic, including the building and construction.  Off-campus users are prompted to log in with their VU username and password when they first enter the search criteria in the search box. You may search using single keywords, but it often makes sense to combine keywords into terms or concepts, e.g. "building science".


The image is showing the search result brought up by entering the “building science” keywords. A range of material is brought up, mostly consisting of e-books and books, journals, and conference articles. You can further filter the search result using different facets shown on the left-hand side, such as publication date, academic journals, full-text online filters, or Books & e-books or Journal articles filter shown above the search box. An effective search is an iterative process of finding relevant information sources, modifying your search strategy by varying the keywords or key concepts based on what you did and did not find, and then searching again to find yet more relevant information sources.

Keyword searching strategies Video

Steps to a successful assignment

  1. Collect all your information about the assignment.
  • the handout on the assignment
  • the type of resources required for your Reference List e.g. journal articles, book chapters, etc.
  • notes from classes on how to do the assignment
  1. Analyse and prepare
  • identify the Required Reading 
  • identify keywords & search the Library for additional resources e.g. books, journal articles (see the boxes below to know what are keywords and for some keyword search strategies)
  1. Read for Information
  • read Required Reading and make notes
  • read the additional articles etc. for information not in the Required Reading
  • prepare each Reference as you read it, and ensure it is written in the suggested referencing style (APA 7th or IEEE). Refer to APA 7th or IEEE referencing guides for further assistance.
  1. Start writing
  • collect notes from your reading and start to build your assignment
  • write the correct References for each of your readings for your Reference List

          Refer to the Academic Resources & Referencing page to read about the writing process and its steps.


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