• Offered by Law School
  • ANU College ANU College of Law
  • Course subject Laws
  • Areas of interest Law
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Mary O'Brien
    • Prof Simon Rice
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in First Semester 2014
    See Future Offerings

The course examines the extent to which and how international human rights standards are present in, or affect, Australian law.

The course considers history, philosophy and theories of human rights.  It discusses the absence of - and analyses the need for - national human rights legislation in Australia, and reviews where and how human rights are found in Australian law.  This involves considering legislative, executive and judicial action in all jurisdictions, ranging from a National Human Rights Action Plan and the powers of the Australian Human Rights Commission, to human rights legislation in the ACT and Victoria and nationwide anti-discrimination laws.  Particular attention will be paid to various actors such as NGOs and public interest lawyers.

After a thorough examination of 'domestic' human rights, the course looks at the way Australia engages with the international system of human rights, where its conduct is subjec to scrutiny by UN committees.

The course will focus on the human rights of certain groups of people whose human rights are vulnerable in Australia, and will analyse case studies.  The course will feature at least one practical exercise inviting students to engage in human rights action as means of better understanding the material.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

The course is designed to give you an opportunity

  • to become more aware of the nature of human rights and the problems associated with their embodiment in law;
  • to understand the interaction - favourable and adverse - between law and human rights;
  • to know about the legal, procedural and institutional means available for protecting and promoting human rights in Australia;
  • to evaluate the comparative merits of protecting human rights by constitutional, statutory, common law and administrative means; and
  • to assess the challenges of working with the law in Australia to protect and promote human rights in Australia.

Other Information

LAWS2225 International Law of Human Rights complements this course, and preferably students would take it before this course. However, this course will provide an overview of international human rights law for students who have not taken that course.

Indicative Assessment

Assessment is likely to be in three parts: class participation, and two written pieces, simulating actual human rights documents; at least one of the written pieces is likely to be done in groups. Class participation is likely to include an optional online component. There will be no class presentations.

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


There will be three contact hours each week. Depending on the size of the class the material is likely to be covered by a one hour lecture, followed by a two hour seminar working on problems and scenarios that illustrate and explore the issues raised. The lecture will be recorded; attendance at most seminars will be mandatory.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must be studying a program which includes a Bachelor of Laws or the Juris Doctor program (7330). Students must have completed or be completing five 1000 level LAWS courses. LAWS2202 Commonwealth Constitutional Law is a co-requisite.

Prescribed Texts

Paula Gerber and Melissa Castan (eds), Contemporary Perspectives on Human Rights in Australia, Lawbook Co, 2013. It is available from the Co-Op for $86.49 http://www.coop-bookshop.com.au/bookshop/show/9780455229973

Preliminary Reading

Chapter 5 of the National Human Rights Consultation report, 'Are human rights adequately protected [in Australia]?', at : http://www.humanrightsconsultation.gov.au/Report/Pages/National-Human-Rights-Consultation-Report---Chapter-5.aspx .

Assumed Knowledge

The course assumes knowledge of the structure and operation of the Australian legal system, but does not assume knowledge of human rights, or international law.  The course does not assume support for the idea or implementation of human rights, but does assume and expect a willingness to better understand through reading, reasoning and respectful discussion.


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Students continuing in their current program of study will have their tuition fees indexed annually from the year in which you commenced your program. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee Description
1994-2003 $1626
2014 $2808
2013 $2808
2012 $2808
2011 $2778
2010 $2718
2009 $2670
2008 $2670
2007 $2670
2006 $2646
2005 $2298
2004 $1926
International fee paying students
Year Fee
1994-2003 $2916
2014 $3762
2013 $3756
2012 $3756
2011 $3756
2010 $3750
2009 $3426
2008 $3426
2007 $3426
2006 $3426
2005 $3234
2004 $2916
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
4521 17 Feb 2014 07 Mar 2014 31 Mar 2014 30 May 2014 In Person N/A

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