• Class Number 7240
  • Term Code 2960
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • William Bateman
    • Daniel Stewart
    • Prof James Stellios
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 22/07/2019
  • Class End Date 25/10/2019
  • Census Date 31/08/2019
  • Last Date to Enrol 29/07/2019
SELT Survey Results

Building on previous public law studies, particularly Australian Public Law, this course deepens 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 the corporations power (s 51(xx)), the external affairs power (s 51(xxix)); the 'races' power (s51(XXVI)), 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;
  •  the implied freedom of political communication; and
  •  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:

  1. Identify, explain and apply the fundamental legal principles covered in Commonwealth Constitutional Law
  2. Examine and interpret the appropriate constitutional provisions and legal authorities to support the explanation and application of constitutional principles in the course of problem solving
  3. Access, interpret and use government documents in the course of solving constitutional law problems
  4. Explain and critically evaluate the role played by the High Court of Australia in developing constitutional principles, shaping the federal system and protecting federal institutions of government
  5. 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
  6. Apply the critical thinking required to bring about solutions to complex legal problems and/or issues in the area of Commonwealth Constitutional law and communicate these solutions effectively

Required Resources

Meagher, D; Simpson, A; Stellios, J; Wheeler, F, Hanks’ Australian Constitutional Law: Materials and Commentary (LexisNexis, 10th ed, 2016)

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • written comments
  • verbal comments
  • feedback to whole class, groups, individuals, focus group etc

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Other Information

Extensions late submission and penalties - https://law.anu.edu.au/current-students/policies-procedures/extensions-late-submission-and-penalties

Deferred examination: http://www.anu.edu.au/students/program-administration/assessments-exams/deferred-examinations

Special consideration: http://www.anu.edu.au/students/program-administration/assessments-exams/special-assessment-consideration

Penalties for excess word length: https://law.anu.edu.au/current-students/policies-procedures/word-length-and-excess-word-penalties

Distribution of Grades Policy: Effective from Winter Session and Second Semester 2018 (and until further notice), the interim scaling guideline applies to all courses in the LLB (Hons) and JD programs. Please see: https://law.anu.edu.au/current-students/policies-procedures/grading

Further Information about the Course: is available from the course WATTLE page. Students are required to access the WATTLE site regularly throughout the course for details on weekly classes and any announcements relating to the course.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Seminar 1: Introduction to Commonwealth Constitutional Law
2 Seminar 2: Corporations
3 Seminar 3: External Affairs Optional quiz available
4 Seminar 4: Taxation
5 Seminar 5: Spending
6 Seminar 6: Inconsistency Optional quiz closes. Mid-semester exam released next week
7 Seminar 7: Intergovernmental immunities (I)
8 Seminar 8: Intergovernmental immunities (II)
9 Seminar 9: Freedom of Interstate Trade
10 Seminar 10: Implied freedom of political communication (I)
11 Seminar 11: Implied freedom of political communication (II)
12 Seminar 12: Implied freedom of political communication (III)

Tutorial Registration

You must enrol in a seminar and attend the seminar you have enrolled in. Enrollment opens on 8 July via the course wattle site and will close after the first week of seminars.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Optional Online Quiz 0 % 05/08/2019 30/08/2019 1,3,5
Seminar Participation (optional) 10 % 31/10/2019 31/10/2019 1,2,3,6
Mid-semester Take-home Examination 30 % 02/09/2019 30/09/2019 1,2,3,4,5,6
Final Examination 60 % 23/11/2019 29/11/2019 1,2,3,4,5,6

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using 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. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website. In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


The course includes an optional redeemable participation component as indicated above.


The course includes 2 examinations: the mid-semester take-home examination and the final examination. Please note that the dates in the assessment summary are indicative only. Students should consult the examinations timetable once it has been finalised for the date and time of the exam.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 0 %
Due Date: 05/08/2019
Return of Assessment: 30/08/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,3,5

Optional Online Quiz

Brief Description: The optional quiz is designed to test your knowledge to the legal principles covered in the first 3 weeks of semester.

Nature of Task: Optional.

Weighting: 0%

Release: 5 pm 5 August via Wattle.

Due date: 5 pm 30 August via Wattle. Due to the nature of the task, no late submissions (with or without an extension) will be permitted.

Estimated return date: Immediate

Assessment Criteria: This assessment is not weighted towards your final grade, but the feedback provided will include a mark based on the number of correct responses. The quiz is designed so that you can test your understanding of basic concepts and obtain feedback about misunderstandings without any effect on their final grades.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 31/10/2019
Return of Assessment: 31/10/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,6

Seminar Participation (optional)

Details of the task: The seminar participation component is optional and will be based on participation in seminars. The seminar participation is designed to develop all learning objectives with an emphasis on oral communication. This is also an essential skill you should develop throughout your law degree – being able to articulate the principles of law you are learning and "think on your feet". The participation grade will be based on a student’s contributions throughout the entire program but emphasis will be given to their contribution in a particular week of seminars where they have nominated to be ‘on-deck’. Students must also sign up to be ‘on-deck’ for a (ie one) particular week of the seminar program. Enrolment into seminars and ‘on-deck’ sign-up will be available online on WATTLE from the time the site goes live. There will be limited places in each seminar and on-deck places each week. Enrolment into seminar groups and on-deck places will be on a first come first served basis. Students who are ‘on-deck’ should be in a position to respond to questions from their seminar leader and to take a leading role in class discussion. However, this contribution is not intended to exclude the participation of others. All students will be encouraged to participate in each seminar. Those students who sign-up to be on-deck will be assessed on both their general contribution together with their ‘on-deck’ contribution.

Nature of the task: Optional and redeemable. Failure to sign up for seminar participation will mean that the final exam is worth 70% (rather than 60%).

Weighting: 10% redeemable at the final exam.

Note: All students must enroll in a seminar group. It will not be possible to attend a seminar group if you are not enrolled. (See ‘Teaching and Learning Approach and Activities’ above).

Estimated return date: End of examination period, with feedback from seminar leader provide throughout the semester.

Assessment Criteria: Class participation marks will be awarded according to how well students: 

  • identify the relevance of contributions to themes developed in class and in assigned readings;
  • are accurate in their contributions;
  • are clear in their expression and make persuasive arguments;
  • contribute to fostering discussion;
  • encourage and respect others’ contributions;
  • make contributions of quality, rather than quantity.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 02/09/2019
Return of Assessment: 30/09/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6

Mid-semester Take-home Examination

Brief Description: Compulsory take-home exam designed to test practical application of the legal principles covered in seminars. The take home is an opportunity to test legal problem solving skills via the application of constitutional principles. Collaboration with other students is not permitted.

Nature of Task: The mid-semester examination is compulsory. Failure to attempt the examination, you will receive a 0 for this task.

Weighting: 30%

Word Limit: 1,800 words inclusive of everything (notes, headings, etc.). Word limits are strictly enforced, with 0.0% leeway. The word length must be set out clearly at the end of the final page of your assignment.

Duration: 4 hours (well-prepared students should be able to complete the examination in 3¼ hours, leaving 45 minutes for proofreading)

Release: 9 am Monday 2 September 2019 via Wattle. TBC

Due date: 1 pm Monday 2 September 2019 via Wattle (Turnitin). Late submission for take home exams is not permitted.

Estimated return date: Week 9 Via Turnitin.

Assessment Criteria: Answers will be marked according to the following criteria:

  • How well you identify the relevant issues from the factual situation presented in the question;
  • How well you identify and accurately explain the applicable legal principles giving authority;
  • How well you understand the Constitution and High Court judgements and use them in your legal reasoning;
  • How well you accurately and concisely apply the legal principles to the factual situation, arguing where possible by analogy from the cases studied;
  • Your ability to avoid irrelevant issues; and
  • How well you have structured and written an answer that responds to the question and organises ideas and arguments in a logical way.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 60 %
Due Date: 23/11/2019
Return of Assessment: 29/11/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6

Final Examination

Brief Description: Compulsory final exam composed of two equally-weighted parts: (1) a problem solving question (worth 50% of the exam), and (2) essay questions (worth 50% of the exam). The problem solving question requires knowledge covered in seminars for weeks 6-12. The essay questions require critical reflection on themes covered in the entire course (weeks 1-12). Students will have a choice of essay questions. The exam will be open-book.

Nature of Task: The final examination is compulsory . Failure to attempt the assignment will mean a 0 for this task.

Weighting: 60% (or 70% if either a) you have not signed up for seminar participation, or b) 10% seminar participation has been 'redeemed').

Timing: During final examination period. Please note that the date in the assessment summary is indicative only. Students should consult the examinations timetable once it has been finalised for the date and time of the exam.

Duration: 2 hours writing time and 30 minutes reading time.

Return date: End of semester results via Services Office.

Assessment Criteria: Answers will be marked according to the following criteria:

  • How well you identify the relevant issues from the factual situation presented in the question;
  • How well you identify and accurately explain the applicable legal principles giving authority;
  • How well you understand the Constitution and High Court judgements and use them in your legal reasoning;
  • How well you accurately and concisely apply the legal principles to the factual situation, arguing where possible by analogy from the cases studied;
  • Your ability to avoid irrelevant issues; and
  • How well you have structured and written an answer that responds to the question and organises ideas and arguments in a logical way.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with. The University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your take-home exam. Please keep a copy of the exam for your records.

Hardcopy Submission

Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin.

Late Submission

Individual assessment tasks may or may not allow for late submission. Policy regarding late submission is detailed below:

  • Late submission not permitted. If submission of assessment tasks without an extension after the due date is not permitted, a mark of 0 will be awarded.
  • Late submission permitted. Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. The Course Convener may grant extensions for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

William Bateman

Research Interests

William Bateman

Monday 13:00 14:00
Daniel Stewart
+61 2 6125 8370

Research Interests

Daniel Stewart

By Appointment
Prof James Stellios
+61 2 6125 8140

Research Interests

Prof James Stellios

By Appointment

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