Professor Des Butler

Profile image of Professor Des Butler

Personal details


Privacy, Contract law, Defamation, Legal Education, Liability for psychiatric injury, Media law, Negligence, Torts, HERN


Law, Education Systems

Field of Research code, Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC), 2008


  • Phd (Queensland University of Technology)
  • LLB(Hons) (Queensland Inst. of Technology)


Units currently taught

  • LLB202 Contract Law
  • LLB242 Media Law
  • LWS008 Entertainment Law

Learning and teaching innovations

Des has been involved in creating multimedia projects designed to enhance learning in law since 1990. His body of work has included:

  • writing and producing the CECL (Computer Exercises in Contract Law) computer tutorial and its later online version OSCaR (On-line Sessions for Contract Review) in Contract Law;
  • devising the original concept for, writing portions of and producing all video segments for the Crimson Parrot project:
  • serving as a leading member of design and management teams for the LawSim template, as well as writing and producing modules using the template for the units Contracts (the Whiskey Bravo modules), and Torts (the Vlad’s of Matavia module);
  • The Merlin Affair, a multimedia program fully integrated into the teaching and learning of Media Law;
  • writing , producing and appearing in Viva: the Video, an instructional video for students undertaking oral examinations;
  • The Contract Vignettes video podcasts, a series of online multimedia segments for Contract Law students (this was the first use of video podcasting in the Law Faculty);
  • Air Gondwana, an online suite of modules designed to give students instruction in the theory and practice of negotiation, the project being funded by a $22,000 University Small Teaching Grant.
  • The OO Files, a suite of online tutorial modules in Contract Law;
  • Entry into Valhalla, a series of modules combining video podcasts and vignettes concerning professional ethics;
  • Black Sceptre, a module that teaches negotiation skills to Entertainment Law students;
  • The Sapphire Vortex, a series of modules in Criminal Law depicting a sequence of criminal offences and subsequent court proceedings combined with commentary by real world barristers;
  • Mosswood Manor, a program designed to contextualise and enhance the learning of trust law in the Equity & Trusts unit;
  • Indigo's Folly, a program designed to contextualise and enhance the learning of statutory interpretation;
  • The Hercules Trilogy, an addition to the Air Gondwana program which contextualises the content of contracts and their interpretation;
  • Dragon Ventures, a program designed to make Chinese Legal Systems more accessible for students whose training will otherwise be focused on common law systems;
  • Chamber of Wisdom, a one stop shop for exam preparation for Contract Law students; and
  • Limelight Crux, a suite of online tutorial modules in Entertainment Law.

Air Gondwana, The OO Files, Entry into Valhalla, Black Sceptre, Sapphire Vortex, Mosswood Manor, Indigo's Folly, Dragon Ventures, Chamber of Wisdom and Limelight Crux all utilise images and machinima created using the Second Life TM virtual environment.  This was the first use of Second Life in the Faculty and University. In many cases these Second Life machinima videos are combined with simulated documents to create engaging and challenging authentic learning experiences. A notable feature of these innovative programs is that they share different aspects of a common core narrative and feature many of the same characters in their storylines and are collectively known as "The Complex Narratives Project." In 2009 he was an investigator on a team led by Professor Sally Kift that was awarded an Australian Learning and Teaching Council Grant in the amount of $215,000 for a two year project entitled “Curriculum renewal in legal education: articulating final year curriculum design principles and a final year program”. The project articulated a set of design principles for capstone experiences in law curricula (and the curricula of other disciplines) and an online toolkit for other academics who wish to introduce capstone experiences into their programs.

Awards for learning and teaching innovations

Des is an Australian Learning and Teaching Fellow and a Senior Fellow of the United Kingdom Higher Education Academy. In 2015 he was honoured by being named the David Gardiner QUT Teacher of the Year "in recognition of sustained excellence in teaching demonstrated through personal leadership, innovative use of technology, development of curricula, and student learning outcomes."

He has received numerous awards for his teaching innovations. His most prestigious awards have been:

  • a national Carrick Australia Award for Teaching Excellence in the Law, Economics, Business and Related Fields category in 2006. That year he was the runner-up for the award of Prime Minister's University Teacher of the Year.
  • the inaugural Lexis-Nexis/Australasian Law Teachers Association Award for Excellence and Innovation in the Teaching of Law in 2008, which award he won again in 2014. He is the only person to have won this award twice.
  • shortlisted finalist for a Wharton Reimagine Education Award ("the global awards for innovative higher education pedagogies enhancing learning and employability") in 2015 for his "Complex Narratives Project".
  • a Janders Dean/LexisNexis Legal Innovation Index Award in 2016, for innovative use of technology in legal education. The Legal Innovation Index provides recognition for the most innovative firms, legal teams and individuals in Australia and New Zealand through initiatives that deliver uniqueness and value to their clients and which differentiate their organisation. The award was judged by leaders in innovation including representatives from Lex Machina, Telstra, Vodaphone Global, Trademark Vision and Janders Dean.
  • a Vice Chancellor's Award for Excellence in 2012, "for his sustained efforts using multimedia combining real world video and video created using the Second Life virtual environment, to create dynamic, engaging and challenging learning environments in subjects across the undergraduate curriculum and for his leadership in heading projects, mentoring other academics and scholarly transfer of skills and knowledge and dissemination of the results of his work."

His other awards include:

  • a Law Faculty Teaching Excellence Award in 2004 for The Merlin Affair;
  • a Vice-Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2005 for his innovations in teaching and learning, particularly The Merlin Affair;
  • a University Innovator’s Award in 2006 (nominated by students) for The Merlin Affair;
  • a Law Faculty Citation for Contribution to Student Learning in 2007 for The Contracts Vignettes podcasts:
  • a Vice Chancellor’s Performance Fund Citation for Contribution to Student Learning in 2008 for Air Gondwana
  • a Faculty of Law Learning and Teaching Team Achievement Award in 2012 for Mosswood Manor.
  • Faculty of Law awards for "Best teaching team" for the  Contracts B team that he led in 2010 and 2011



Selected publications

QUT ePrints

For more publications by Des, explore their research in QUT ePrints (our digital repository).

View more publications