• Offered by Law School
  • ANU College ANU College of Law
  • Course subject Laws
  • Areas of interest Law
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr James Stellios
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in Second Semester 2015
    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 its judicial interpretation by the High Court. Particular attention will be paid to the historical, social and institutional forces which have helped shape the Constitution and the High Court's reading of it. The course includes:

  • the historical, social and institutional context of Australian constitutional law
  • the scope of Commonwealth legislative power, including a detailed examination of the trade and commerce power (s 51(i)), the corporations power (s 51(xx)) and the external affairs power (s 51(xxix)); the process of characterisation and the principle in the Communist Party Case
  • inconsistency between Commonwealth and State laws (s 109)
  • federal financial powers and economic union
  • general principles and theories of interpretation; the Engineers Case and implied intergovernmental immunities
  • an introduction to implied constitutional ‘rights', focusing on implications from representative government
  • the nature of judicial review and the role of the High Court

Learning Outcomes

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

At the conclusion of this course students should be able to:

  •  demonstrate an understanding of
    • key aspects of the Commonwealth Constitution and its interpretation by the High Court
    • the main principles and theories of interpretation associated with the Commonwealth Constitution
    • the historical, social and institutional context of Australian constitutional law
  • identify the constitutional issues that arise from a given set of facts
  • distil propositions of law from constitutional cases and apply those propositions to construct persuasive legal arguments in response to legal problems
  • comment critically on the High Court's interpretation of the Constitution and the historical, social and political forces that have shaped, and continue to shape, Australian constitutional law.

Other Information

This course is normally taken in the third year of a combined degree.

Indicative Assessment

It is anticipated that this course will be assessed by a compulsory end of semester exam and some form of mid-semester assessment. Details of the final assessment, including the relationship between assessment and the learning outcomes for the course, will be provided on the course home page by the first week of semester.

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 generally be four hours of lectures per week. In some weeks, there will also be a one hour tutorial. Students are generally expected to devote approximately 10 hours overall per week to this course.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must be studying a program which includes the Bachelor of Laws and completed or be completing five LAWS courses at 1000 level and have completed LAWS1205 Australian Public Law.

Prescribed Texts

Information about prescribed texts will be made available in the course outline. See the course homepage.



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. Tuition fees are indexed annually. 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
2015 $2958
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2015 $4146
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
1438 20 Jul 2015 07 Aug 2015 31 Aug 2015 30 Oct 2015 In Person N/A

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