• Offered by Law School
  • ANU College ANU College of Law
  • Course subject Laws
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr James Stellios
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in Second Semester 2014
    See Future Offerings

Building on previous public law studies, particularly Australian Public Law, this course aims to deepen student understanding of key aspects of the Commonwealth Constitution and the way it has been interpreted by the High Court of Australia. Specifically, we consider:

  • The scope of Commonwealth legislative power, by reference to key federal heads of legislative power including the corporations power (s 51(xx)), the external affairs power (s 51(xxix)), the races power (s 51(xxvi), the taxation power (s 51(ii)) and the grants power (s 96);
  • The principles of interpretation and ‘characterisation’ applied by the High Court when interpreting the scope of federal legislative power;
  • The principles that operate to resolve a clash or conflict between Commonwealth and State laws (s 109);
  • Many of the important constitutional limitations placed on the exercise of Commonwealth and State legislative power, including both the express limitations set out in the text (eg, ss 90 and 92) and those that have been implied by the High Court from the text and structure of the Constitution (egs, federal/State immunities, and implications from representative government);
  • The important role that the High Court has played in shaping the federal system and protecting federal government institutions created by the Constitution; and
  • The historical and social context in which federal constitutional law has developed.

Learning Outcomes

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

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • Explain and apply the constitutional law principles developed by the High Court to a hypothetical factual problem presenting questions about the validity and applicability of federal and State legislation;
  • Identify the appropriate constitutional provisions and legal authorities to support the explanation and application of constitutional principles in the course of problem solving;
  • Analyse a factual problem, reasoning to a conclusion by analogy to the decided cases;
  • Recognise and explain the role played by the High Court of Australia in shaping the federal system and protecting federal institutions of government;
  • Recognise and explain the historical and social context within which the constitutional principles have been developed;
  • Analyse and assess the impact that the High Court has had on the development of constitutional principles, the character of the federal system in Australia and the health of federal institutions of government.

Indicative Assessment

There will be three assessment components for this course:

  • A compulsory, non-redeemable mid-semester take-home examination of 2000 words, to be completed in groups of three (30% of the final mark for the course);
  • A compulsory, non-redeemable assignment of 2000 words reflecting on a set of assigned readings (30% of the final mark for the course), comprising:
    • 200 word outline to be submitted for feedback (10% of the final mark for the course);
    • 1800 final assignment (20% of the final mark for the course).
    • A sit-down exam in the final exam period (40% of the final mark for the course).

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 are 4 hours of lectures in weeks 1-6 and 8-12, and 8 one-hour seminars over the course of the semester.

The amount of time that is needed for effective learning outcomes will vary according to each student’s abilities and experiences, and any time allocation is necessarily generalised. However, as a general indication, in addition to the lecture and seminar times, students should plan to devote at least 6-7 hours per week to studying Commonwealth Constitutional Law.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must be studying a Juris Doctor (7330) and have completed, or are undertaking, 30 units of 1000 level Law (LAWS) courses including LAWS1205.

Prescribed Texts

The prescribed book is Jennifer Clarke, Patrick Keyzer and James Stellios, Hanks Australian Constitutional Law: Materials and Commentary (9th ed, LexisNexis, 2013)


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 $1554
2014 $2808
2013 $2676
2012 $2676
2011 $2646
2010 $2592
2009 $2544
2008 $2544
2007 $2544
2006 $2520
2005 $2190
2004 $1836
International fee paying students
Year Fee
1994-2003 $2778
2014 $3762
2013 $3582
2012 $3582
2011 $3582
2010 $3576
2009 $3264
2008 $3264
2007 $3264
2006 $3264
2005 $3084
2004 $2778
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.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
8765 21 Jul 2014 08 Aug 2014 31 Aug 2014 30 Oct 2014 In Person N/A

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