• Offered by Law School
  • ANU College ANU College of Law
  • Classification Advanced
  • Course subject Laws
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Prof Michael Coper
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in Winter Session 2014
    See Future Offerings

This course explores the complex, subtle and still-evolving role of the High Court as a legal, political and social institution in the Australian constitutional system. Because it examines the role of the High Court as an institution, the unit has no fixed substantive legal content.

The course will focus on the High Court's role in the development of Australian constitutional law, employing a historical and biographical lens, though students may wish to explore other areas of law in their research papers.

Topics explored in the course will vary, in part, according to the participant's research interests. Indicative topics include:the creation of the High Court and its early struggle to assert itself;

  • the Privy Council and the High Court;

  • the appointment and removal of judges (including the Piddington and Murphy affairs);

  • the High Court’s role in the development of Australian law;

  • the High Court’s jurisdiction and procedures, and the impact of that on the development of the law;

  • landmark cases in Australian constitutional law, and their impact on the High Court;

  • the extra-judicial activities of High Court judges;

  • the value of biography, and oral history in an examination of the Court’s function;

  • the inner workings of the High Court (including, the role of associates); and the High Court in popular culture.

Learning Outcomes

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

By the end of this course students will have:

  1. an extended understanding of the High Court’s role and function in Australian history and contemporary society, and the social, political and legal factors that have framed that function;
  2. critically analysed the High Court’s role in landmark cases in Australian constitutional law; and critically analysed the perspective that a institutional, historical and biographical lens can offer on Australian constitutional law and the development of the High Court’s function.

Other Information

This is an intensive course with 4 days of compulsory attendance required (see LLM timetable for dates).
Approximately 6 weeks from the completion of the intensive your final assessment will be due. Contact with fellow students and the convenor, both prior to the intensive and after, is conducted via the Wattle course site

Indicative Assessment

Students should rely on the Course Study Guide which will be available approximately 4 weeks from the commencement of the course on the Wattle course site.

The assessment in this course is likely to comprise two part;
  • Draft research paper, including oral presentation (20%)
  • Final research paper (80%).

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.


26 Contact Hours (Intensive Delivery) plus private study and reading time.
Click here for the current LLM Masters Program Timetable

Requisite and Incompatibility

((Coreq LAWS8245 or LAWS8568) and Coreq LAWS8259) or (enrolled in programs 6300 or 7300 or 7312)

Prescribed Texts

There is no prescribed text, but the single most useful reference work, with particular value as a concise introduction to most topics, is Tony Blackshield, Michael Coper and George Williams (eds), The Oxford Companion to the High Court of Australia (OUP, 2001) (‘Oxford Companion’).

There will be an ebrick of reading materials comprising a collection of articles and book chapters prepared by the lecturers which will be made available prior to the commencement of the course.

Preliminary Reading

The Course Study Guide will be available on the Wattle site approximately 4 weeks prior to the commencement of the course.

Assumed Knowledge

Non-lawyers must have completed LAWS8015 Fundamentals of Government and Commercial Law.  Current ANU JD students must have completed LAWS2202 or LAWS6202 Commonwealth Constitutional Law.


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.

Winter Session

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
5766 26 Jul 2014 15 Aug 2014 15 Aug 2014 12 Oct 2014 In Person N/A

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions