• Offered by Law School
  • ANU College ANU College of Law
  • Course subject Laws
  • Areas of interest Law

This course examines the structure and themes of Australian public law, providing a bridge to all other public law study in the curriculum. In essence, the course examines how public power is structured, distributed, and controlled in Australia. The distinctive roles played by the legislature, the executive and the judiciary receive special attention. Subsidiary themes in the course are protection of individual rights in the Australian legal system, and constitutional change and evolution in Australia. The following topics will be covered:

  • the constitutional and legislative framework for Australian public law
  • major concepts and themes in Australian public law, including federalism, separation of powers, constitutionalism, representative democracy, rule of law, and liberalism
  • the Legislature, including the structure of Australian legislatures, parliamentary supremacy, and express and implied constitutional limitations on legislative power
  • the Executive, including the structure of Executive government, executive power, and liability of the Crown
  • the Judiciary, including the constitutional separation of judicial power, and the administrative law implications of judicial separation
  • constitutional change and evolution, including constitutional amendment.

Learning Outcomes

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

Australian Public Law is designed to introduce students to the basic principles and doctrines of public law in Australia. Students will understand what public law is all about and why it is important.


By the conclusion of this course, students who have successfully completed all of the requirements will have the knowledge and skills to:


1.      Describe and explain the reasons why countries adopt written constitutions to regulate the control of government power and the key features of Australia‚Äôs Constitution, including the capacity for constitutional change;

2.      Identify and analyse the core features, principles and rules of the Australian constitutional framework covered in the course;

3.      Analyse and predict how unresolved and/or ambiguous questions of public law could be resolved by the courts through an analysis of case law, underlying policy and the judicial method;

4.      Identify and use a range of legally specific research principles, methods and tools appropriate to plan and execute a public law research project;

5.      Select and apply a range of approaches to written and oral communication, and apply the critical thinking required to bring about solutions to complex legal problems and/or issues in the context of advising a client in an Australian public law matter.

6.      Access, use, interpret and apply a range of domestic secondary legal resources to solve complex public law problems/issues.

Other Information

This course together with Commonwealth Constitutional Law, covers the essentials of Australian Constitutional Law. At the same time this course builds on Foundations of Australian Law, particularly the reception of law in Australia and the historical evolution of responsible and representative government, and also serves as an introduction to Administrative Law and to a number of the courses in the elective program. It must be taken early in the law degree.

Australian Public Law is taken in first semester of second year for all combined degree students.  Students undertaking a single degree (LLB or JD) will study Australian Public Law in second semester of first year (or later for part-time students).

Indicative Assessment

Please refer to the course home page for assessment information.

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.


For the first six weeks, there will be one two-hour and one one-hour lecture. Tutorials will begin in the seventh week, taking the place of the one-hour lecture for the next six weeks.  Students are generally expected to devote at least 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 LAWS1201 Foundations of Australian Law.

Prescribed Texts

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

Preliminary Reading

The preliminary reading required for this course will be available from the course home page at least one week prior to the commencement of the course.

A reading guide will be available on the course web page.

Assumed Knowledge

It will be useful for students to follow domestic political developments during the course, such as where there is an election or change in leadership of a major party, a high profile parliamentary inquiry or debate (eg around proposed legislation, the behaviour of members, or the scrutiny of the executive) or a controversial matter before the courts.


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
2017 $3216
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2017 $4590
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.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
2343 20 Feb 2017 27 Feb 2017 31 Mar 2017 26 May 2017 In Person N/A

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