*This is not an introductory course to Contract Law. Participants are expected to have completed the compulsory Contract subjects at their home university at the time of participation in the program*

Negotiation, Contracts, and Comparative Law will be a 12-session intensive course of contract law, practical negotiation skills, and comparative theory. This course combines the questions of why?, what?, and how? that lie beneath contracts.

Why care about contracts? Contract is both the greatest expression of human freedom and the lowliest expression of human greed. Contracts – the ability to commit yourself and another legally to a common course of action – are what make the modern world possible. This applies whether we are talking about purchasing the latest Adele single from iTunes or Amazon, getting your first “real” job and flat, or inking a multibillion dollar merger agreement. Contract is so omnipresent that we barely even notice when we click “I Accept” or sign our name to the car lease. Understanding why we can make legally enforceable agreements matters for creating the future of contract practices, getting out of the contracts we (or our clients) really regret, and deciding when it makes sense to limit the contract power for social interests.

The course will cover questions such as:

  • What is the connection between human dignity, freedom, and the ability to make legally enforceable promises?
  • What do James Bond, Star Wars, Aboriginal Islanders, and speed limits in Michigan, the Northern Territory, and Lithuania have in common?
  • Should a court enforce a contract requiring a consumer to pay $3500 merely for posting a negative review about bad customer service online?
  • Alternatively, why does the state prohibit contracts for the sale of sexual services, murder for hire, or the sale of narcotics when both parties really want the deal to go through?
  • How can I get a better deal on my next TV? Car? Multibillion dollar merger?
  • I want to do business in China – how should I think about Chinese contract law? How do I avoid potential pitfalls?

You will learn how to communicate about contracts with attorneys and business people from different cultures and backgrounds; gain an understanding of how contract law functions to promote economic activity, business and personal transactions, and human dignity. In addition, you’ll have the chance to apply your new knowledge to negotiating and drafting a simple contract in a [relatively] friendly competitive exercise against peers and / or nationals from other cultures.

It is important to note that this course is not an introductory Contract program. Given the comparative nature of the program, students will examine doctrines that attempt to respond to issues within Contract law by looking at common, civil, Roman and Chinese laws. Students will be able to gain a better understanding of why particular doctrines “work” or “don’t work” in context and also develop skills necessary to communicate, justify and explain legal doctrines within the Australian jurisdictions.

* Details of the 2017 program are still subject to final change* 

Additional Course Information

This course is specifically designed with various learning objectives and outcomes in mind. A few of these include:

  • To define the essential elements of functionalism, hermeneutics and structuralism as modes of comparison in comparative law (sessions 1-2)
  • To articulate and the explain the three major methods for engaging in comparative law (sessions 3-8)
  • To combine knowledge of contract law with negotiation skills practicum (sessions 9-12)
  • To identify and describe the cooperative and competitive approaches to contract negotiation (sessions 9-12)

University and Faculty

Michigan State University

Michigan State University (MSU), founded in 1855, is a public research university in East Lansing, Michigan. MSU is the eighth-largest university in the United States and has approximately 540,000 living alumni worldwide.

MSU is consistently ranked as one of the top universities in the USA for many years, it has also ranked comfortably inside the Top 100 universities in the world for the past 8 years. MSU is recognised all over the US for its exceptional sporting teams, internationally diverse campus and study abroad offering and fabulous campus life. Academically and socially this is an incredible place to study.

One of the core parts of the university is its independent, not-for-profit College of Law, which is heavily involved in publishing the Michigan State Law Review. The renown of this college is such that it brings students from 42 of the United States and 13 different countries to study law, so there is clearly an ideal place to explore various aspects of contract law.

Located on the banks of the Red Cedar River, MSU is home to the American football team, the Spartans, and they compete in the Spartan Stadium that can seat over 75,000 spectators. The University’s mascot, Sparty the Spartan, is recognised all around America and has won ‘Best University Mascot’ many times over. Spartans, the name given to all MSU graduates, have a strong network that spans the globe. Having an MSU experience on your resume is a big deal!


Daniel D. Barnhizer

Professor of Law & The Bradford Stone Faculty Scholar

J.D. 1995, Harvard Law School; B.A. 1991, Miami University

Professor Barnhizer teaches and writes in the areas of contract law & theory, conservation law, comparative law, and the jurisprudence associated with the rule of law. Currently the Bradford Stone Faculty Scholar at Michigan State University College of Law, and a co-author of casebooks in the fields of Contracts and Commercial Transactions, Professor Barnhizer also directs the Conservation Law Program and the Journals Program at the Law College, as well as the MSU College of Law Institute for Comparative Law & Jurisprudence at the University of Białystok Faculty of Law in Poland. Prior to coming to Michigan State in 2001, Professor Barnhizer worked for the law firms of Hogan & Hartson and Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft in Washington, D.C., and as a judicial law clerk for the Honourable Richard L. Nygaard, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, and for the Honourable Robert B. Krupansky, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, sitting by designation on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.

Site Visits and Cultural Activities


A highlight of any program in the USA is to get a taste for life in the US and US campus culture. Whilst it is holiday time at MSU and many students travel home for the summer, the MSU student ambassadors will make every effort to help you discover what US uni life is all about.

Ambassadors are part of the American Semester team and help welcome you to campus and adjust to MSU. Usually, Ambassadors have spent time on their own study abroad outside of the USA and are eager to keep the international connection going through meeting students similar to themselves. Our ambassadors volunteer their time because they enjoy meeting new people and learning about new cultures as well as sharing their own.

You will be introduced to our Ambassadors during orientation week and soon they’ll become good friends and resources. They may organize events or social gatherings for the entire group or for just a few. They can tell you the best place to study or to just hang out on campus.

As part of the program, you will have opportunities to participate in a wide range of activities. A list of planned activities are yet to be finalised, but are likely to include:

  • Weekend trip to Niagara Falls
  • Weekend trip to Chicago


You will be staying in a single room in an MSU student residence.  Sheets, a pillow, towels and linen are provided.

Meals can be taken at the campus dining facilities and most meals are included in the program fee. Typically, 3 meals per day during the week whilst you are on campus and some meals whilst you are on the site visits/ weekends.

You will have access to a large, fully equipped gym, basketball court, racquetball court, and indoor and outdoor pools.

Destination Information

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East Lansing, Michigan USA

As the name suggests, East Lansing is located immediately east of Michigan’s capital, Lansing and can be found in the north-east of the US. The area historically representing a crossroads between 2 Native American tribes, today East Lansing can be considered to be a college town with a very young and energetic atmosphere, with over 60% of the population between the ages of 15 and 24. As a result of this, one can find a variety of college-geared businesses such as coffee shops, bookstores and bars nestled within neighbourhoods largely populated by students. The very successful sporting teams of MSU dominate the city culture, creating a very dedicated and passionate fanbase.

Here are some reasons why East Lansing and its surrounds will be a great start to your study in the US:

  • Home to around 50,000 people, East Lansing is most widely known as the home of Michigan State University.
  • MSU is within the top 10 most enrolled universities in the USA and lays claim to have educated over 540,000 alumni across the world.
  • Sites such as W. J. Beal Botanical Garden, the oldest botanical garden in the United States, Beaumont Tower, Red Ceder River and the Spartan Stadium.



Credit and Funding


All our programs are designed to count for credit as electives. However, it is up to your university to decide whether they will approve some credit for your participation in one of our programs. Normally it is a course convenor, Head of Department or program convenor who approves your credit.

Course convenors will not be able approve credit for a course unless you have a copy of the syllabus, so you should not visit your course convenor until you have received a copy of the course syllabus from AIM Overseas. You will receive this in your AIM Overseas acceptance pack, along with information about how to apply for credit at your university.

For more information, see our Credit and Funding pages.


You might be able to obtain the $6000+ OS-HELP loan, as well as a scholarship from your university, when participating in an AIM Overseas program.

Our programs are designed so that eligible Australian students can access the OS-HELP scheme, which can provide funding of over $6,000 for international study experiences.

We give you detailed information about OS-HELP and how to apply for it in your Initial Consultation with us, as well as in your AIM Overseas acceptance pack.

You can also find more information about OS-HELP on our Credit and Funding pages.

Many Australian universities offer scholarships for their students to take part in overseas study programs. We will provide you information on scholarships that we are aware of at your university as part of your application/acceptance for a program. You can also check your university’s international office webpage to see what might be offered.

Application Information

Applications for our July 2017 programs are now closed. 

We are no longer taking applications for our July 2017 round of programs. Applications for our January 2018 programs will be open on May 22nd.

If you wish to know more, or if you have any questions about our programs please contact us via info@aimoverseas.com.au or (02) 9975 7792. You can also refer to our Frequently Asked Questions.

Alternatively, you can register your interest now for a January 2018 or July 2018 program, meaning you’ll receive updates (via email and phone) prior to the application deadline and when applications are open.