• Offered by Faculty of Law
  • ANU College ANU College of Law
  • Classification Advanced
  • Course subject Laws
  • Areas of interest Development Studies, International Relations, Law

Good governance, human rights, the rule of law, and access to justice are all high on the agenda of governments and donors in Africa. Law and governance are often presented as the remedy against 'the African condition'.
This course explores the complex relations between law, governance and change in Africa. What role, for instance, did ‘customary law’ play in the colonisation process? What does the changing place of the state in Africa - constrained by the international legal and socio-political system, challenged by chieftaincies and decentralised local governments - mean for the ability to bring about change through the law? How do   other legal systems – religious, traditional, N.G.O.-law, international human rights – interact with this state law, for instance when it comes to the management of natural resources? Can land reform function as a remedy to inequality and political instability? Which transitional justice mechanisms can aid in building lasting peace?
This course introduces students to the general features of African legal systems and examines the relationship between law, governance and development in the region. We look at conceptual tools to understand the relation between law and societal change, as well as at selected case studies: the revival of traditional courts to deal with the genocide in Rwanda, African perspectives on the operation, effectiveness and legitimacy of the International Criminal Court, the management of land by traditional authorities in Ghana, and the constitution-making process in Kenya are amongst them. As such, this course is as much about the relation between law and society in the contemporary world as it is about the present condition of Africa.

Learning Outcomes

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

A participant who has successfully completed this course should:

  1. Be familiar with the formal features of law and governance prevalent in many African countries, as well as an insight in the actual working of these formal systems and the legal remedies to which citizens in given African contexts have veritable access;
  2. Have a critical understanding of the prevailing conceptual framework for an understanding of these issues (weak states, legal pluralism, donor influence) and be able to apply this framework within the context of a number of selected case studies; andUnderstand some of ‘the limits of law’ and be able to critically consider what law and governance can and cannot do in addressing the main challenges many African countries face.

Indicative Assessment

The proposed scheme of assessment is:

  1. a 1500 word reflective reading journal (20%); and
  2. a 5000 word research essay (80%).
Students must rely on the approved Means of Assessment which will be available on the course Wattle site approximately 4-6 weeks prior to the course commencement.

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 hours intensive class (4 days) plus private study time

Intensive Dates 2014: 2-3 & 7-8 October

For the LLM Masters Program Timetable please click here

Prescribed Texts

There is no prescribed text. A reading brick or e-brick comprised of a collection of articles and book chapters will be prepared by the lecturer.

Preliminary Reading

A Course Outline will be available on the Wattle course site approximately 4-6 weeks prior to the start of the intensive.

Assumed Knowledge

A basic understanding of law, governance and development (for example through completing LAWS8001 Introduction to Law, Governance and Development) would be advantageous but is not required.


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.

Winter Session

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
6795 09 Sep 2016 09 Sep 2016 23 Sep 2016 25 Oct 2016 In Person N/A

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