• Offered by Law School
  • ANU College ANU College of Law
  • Classification Advanced
  • Course subject Laws
  • Areas of interest Law
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • AsPr Alexander Gardner
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in Autumn Session 2015
    See Future Offerings

How does the law provide for the management and sharing of water resources between competing human consumptive uses while also sustaining our natural ecosystems?

This question has garnered growing national attention as water becomes an increasingly contested resource in much of Australia, with recent periods of dire scarcity likely to return with the emergent impacts of climate change and increasing demands from new industry practices, especially the pursuit of energy resources.  

Australian attention to these issues in the past two decades has seen the Australian State and Commonwealth Parliaments agree a national water reform policy and undertake a national program of fundamental law reform – the most significant reform since water resources statutes were first enacted over a century ago. The Australian model of water resources law is gaining international attention as globally too water is becoming an increasingly contested and scarce resource.

This course pursues these themes through a study of Australian terrestrial water resources law, with a focus on the Murray-Darling Basin jurisdictions, including the Commonwealth, and an emphasis on water quantity management. 

Topics covered will include:

  1. The Institutional Framework of water resources management, including the classification and condition of Australia's water resources, key constitutional principles and administrative agencies, and the statutory objectives of water resources management;
  2. The Nature of Access Rights to Water, including the legal foundations of the access rights to water, their historical basis in the common law and current statutory public and private rights to the use and flow and control of surface and ground water;
  3. Water Allocation Planning, including the history and legal purposes of planning, the main procedures of the planning system, and the core content of water plans relating to environmental water allocations and the concept of "consumptive pool";
  4. Administration of Statutory Water Entitlements, including the grant, content, variation and compensation for reduction of access entitlements;
  5. Water trading, including intra and inter-State transfer provisions, public register of entitlements, and environmental water trade; and
  6. The model for sharing water resources in Australia.

Learning Outcomes

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

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

  • understand and explain the main legal principles governing the management of water resources in their own jurisdictions and make some comparisons with other jurisdictions;
  • ascertain the legal effect of the national water policy reforms agreed by CoAG and implemented by State and Commonwealth legislation;
  • identify and use the principal legal and policy materials applied in the management of water resources in their own jurisdiction; and
  •  comment critically on the law and policy relevant to a particular problem of water resources management that was the focus of the research assignment.

Other Information

What students have said:

Student comments on the course in previous years.

“Alex was so organised and provided very useful handouts to the course.  I was impressed by Alex’s responsiveness and assistance provided prior to the course.  Although the cost of the text book is a little prohibitive, it is an excellent resource and probably more useful in the long term than a [reading] brick.  I really appreciated Alex’s dedication and preparation for the course, which was obvious.  It’s definitely one of the best courses I’ve done in my Master’s degree.”

“The way we worked closely with the book was brilliant and really helped the learning process, and importantly results in us actually reading most if not all of the book. Incredibly well organized.  Excellent style of teaching, clearly knowledgeable.  Creates a forum for discussion.  The pre-workshop assessment allows us to begin learning early and results in a class full of better prepared and informed students.  Best course so far in the degree.”

Indicative Assessment

• a class presentation and participation mark of 10%;
• a written analysis of the class presentation question worth 10%; and
• a research paper worth 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.


The three days intensive course is the only commitment of class time.  Students will need to manage their own time to prepare the workshop presentation, as well as to undertake the research assignment after the workshop.  In addition to completing these assignments, students should also commit some time to general reading for the course, especially before the workshop. 


Click here for the current timetable


Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must be studying a: Master of Laws (7300XLLM, MLLM), Master of Laws specilising in International Law (7300XSINTL), Master of Laws specilising in Law, Governance and Development (7300SLGD), Master of Laws specialising in Enviornmental Law (7300SEVNL), Master of Laws specialising in Government and Commercial Law (7300SGCL), Master of Laws specialising in International Security Law (7300SISL), Master of Laws in Migration (MLLML), Master of Laws in International Law (NLLIN), Master of Laws in Environmental Law (NLLEN), Master of Laws in Law, Governance & Development (NLLGD), Master of Laws in International Security Law (NLLSL), Master of Laws in Government and Regulation (NLLGR), Master of Laws (Legal Practice) (7312XLLMLP), Master of Diplomacy/Master of Laws (7883SINTL, 7883XLLM), Master of Diplomacy/Master of International Law (7893XMINTL), Master of International Law (7310XMINTL), Master of Environmental Law (7309XMENVL), Master of Law, Governance & Development (7317XMLGD), Master of International Security Law (7318XMISL), Master of Government and Commercial Law (7313XMGCL), Master of Legal Practice (MLEGP). OR Must be studying a: Master of Diplomacy/Master of International Law (7893XMDIPL, 7893XMINTL), Master of International Law (7310XMINTL), Master of Environmental Law (7309XMENVL), Master of Law, Governance & Development (7317XMLGD), Master of International Security Law (7318XMISL), Master of Government and Commercial Law (7313XMGCL), Master of Legal Studies (7305XMLEGS), and have completed LAWS8189 Fundamentals of Environmental Law OR Must be studying a Juris Doctor (7330XJD, 7330HJD or MJD) and have completed or be completing five LAWS1000 level courses or five LAWS6100 level courses. OR Must be studying a Graduate Certificate of Law (CLAW) and have completed or are completing LAWS8586 Law and Legal Institutions and LAWS8189 Fundamentals of Environmental Law.

Prescribed Texts

A Gardner, R Bartlett & J Gray, Water Resources Law, LexisNexis 2009.

Preliminary Reading

A reading guide will be available on the WATTLE site at the commencement of the course, approximately six weeks before the intensive workshop commences.


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.

Autumn Session

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
1505 29 Apr 2015 29 Apr 2015 08 May 2015 12 Jun 2015 In Person N/A

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