• Class Number 4392
  • Term Code 2930
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery Online
    • Matthew Zagor
    • Matthew Zagor
    • AsPr Ron Levy
    • Prof Anthony Connolly
    • William Bateman
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 25/02/2019
  • Class End Date 31/05/2019
  • Census Date 31/03/2019
  • Last Date to Enrol 04/03/2019
SELT Survey Results

This course in Australian Public Law reflects the distinctive vision of the ANU JD program in which the study of Australian Public Law is a compulsory part. It also reflects the particular emphasis that the ANU College of Law gives to the study and research of Australian Public Law, which ultimately is reflected in the research of the ANU College of Law and in organisations such as the Centre for International and Public Law. The study of Australian Public Law at a relatively early stage in JD studies will open a pathway into a range of additional law courses and opportunities, and to thinking about opportunities beyond the JD too. To that end, LAWS 6105 has a strong focus on foundational aspects of the discipline of Australian Public Law.

Australian Public Law deals with many aspects of the functioning of the key constitutional institutions of government at the national, state, and territory levels, and how those institutions interact with one another and with the Australian people. The wide-ranging impact of Australian Public Law on the Australian legal system and on Australian  governmental, judicial and social activities means that a basic knowledge of the terminology, institutions, and substance of Australian Public Law is not only worthwhile acquiring in its own right, but is also a necessary part of the knowledge and skills of any law graduate, and of any citizen of a democratic society. This makes Australian Public Law of considerable interest, whether you choose to go into the private practice of law, to work as a government or public lawyer, or are undertaking a law degree because you consider it will be useful in another career. This JD course in Australian Public Law is designed to provide you with an understanding of the core essentials of this area of law, and to provide you with the foundations for further reflection on, and study of, topics in this area.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. - By the conclusion of this course, it is expected that students who have successfully completed all of the course requirements should be able to:
  2. - Define, explain, distinguish and apply the basic concepts and advanced terminology used in Australian Public Law;
  3. - Define and distinguish amongst the core constitutional concepts which shape Australian Public Law, and amongst the three branches of government into which our constitutional institutions are organised;
  4. - Define, explain and apply the key foundational concepts and doctrines of Australian Public Law and be able to reflect at an advanced level on how those concepts and doctrines shape contemporary legal and political disputes;
  5. - Define and contrast the different ways in which the branches of government operate, and reflect on the different ways in which Commonwealth, State, and Territory governments operate;
  6. - Recognise and appraise the strengths and weaknesses of how the different branches and levels of government operate, and hypothesise about possible reforms with a specialist’s nuance and against a sophisticated theoretical background;
  7. - Explain and demonstrate, through expert analysis of particular cases, the relevance of Australian Public Law to current political and legal developments at the national and state/territory levels;
  8. - Select and apply a range of approaches in written communication, and apply the sophisticated and technical critical thinking required to bring about creative solutions to complex legal problems at the most significant and specialised national level; and
  9. - Use, interpret and apply a wide range of materials in both on-line and traditional media from scholarly and more news-oriented sources.

Required Resources

Anthony J. Connolly, The Foundations of Australian Public Law: State, Power, Accountability (Cambridge University Press, 2017)

Other textbooks on Australian public law which may be of use in supplementing your reading of the prescribed text for the course, or as starting points for further reading/research include:

  • George Williams, Sean Brennan and Andrew Lynch, Blackshield and Williams’ Australian Constitutional Law Theory: Commentary and Materials (7th ed, 2018, Federation Press)
  • Clark, David, Principles of Australian Public Law (LexisNexis: 3rd ed, 2010);
  • Joseph, Sarah and Melissa Castan, Federal Constitutional Law: A Contemporary View (Thomson Reuters: 3rd ed, 2009);
  • Hanks, Peter, Frances Gordon and Graeme Hill, Constitutional Law in Australia (LexisNexis Butterworths, 3rd ed, 2012);
  • Ratnapala, Suri and Jonathan Crowe, Australian Constitutional Law: Foundations and Theory (Oxford University Press, 3rd ed, 2012);
  • Saunders, Cheryl, The Constitution of Australia: A Contextual Analysis (Hart, 2011).

Copies of these are available for restricted loan from the Law Library.

Staff Feedback

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

  • (for optional Quiz) through model answers
  • (for Research Assignment) through comments on papers either in hard copy or on Turnitin
  • (for Exam) through comments on exam paper

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 Introduction to Australian Public Law - State, Power, Accountability + History and Structure of the Australian State.
2 The Political Morality of Australian Public Law – Liberalism, Democracy, and the Rule of Law.
3 The Legislature I: Constitutional Disputes Concerning the Structure and Election of Australian Parliaments
4 The Legislature II: Legislative Power and State Constitutions Tutorials Commence: Tutorial 1
5 The Legislature III: Limitations on Legislative Power: Delegation and Abdication of Legislative Power Tutorial 2
6 The Executive I: The Structure of the Executive & the Nature and Content of Executive Power Tutorial 3
7 The Executive II: Executive Power (Prerogative & Nationhood) Tutorials recommence: Tutorial 4
8 The Executive III: Spending & Accountability Tutorial 5 Wednesday lecture will be rescheduled due to clash with public holiday.
9 The Judiciary I: The Nature and Separation of Judicial Power Tutorial 6
10 The Judiciary II: Judicial Adjustment of the Separation of Judicial Power; Tutorial 7
11 The Judiciary III: the States Tutorial 8
12 Course Review and Exam Prep No tutorial – 3 hours of lectures this week

Tutorial Registration

There is one JD-dedicated tutorial. Registration is not necessary.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Optional Online Quiz 0 % 22/03/2019 25/03/2019 1,2,6
Tutorial Attendance 0 % 18/03/2019 24/05/2019 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8
Tutorial Participation 10 % 18/03/2019 04/07/2019 1,2,3,4,5,6
Research Essay 50 % 24/04/2019 17/05/2019 1,2,3,4,5,6
Take-home final examination 40 % 06/06/2019 04/07/2019 1,2,3,5,6

* 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. Students may choose not to submit assessment items through Turnitin. In this instance you will be required to submit, alongside the assessment item itself, hard copies of all references included in the assessment item.

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 date of the exam will be posted on the course wattle site. Students should check the course wattle site regularly for updates.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 0 %
Due Date: 22/03/2019
Return of Assessment: 25/03/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,6

Optional Online Quiz

Nature of Task: Optional. Following the foundational lectures of Weeks 1 and 2 and the first two weeks on the legislature, students will be given an opportunity to self-assess their comprehension of the topics and issues covered in those lectures and readings by means of an online quiz.

Weighting: 0%

Release Date: The quiz will be posted on the course webpage in Week 5 and an answer guide to the questions will be posted there in Week 6. As this is an optional quiz, students will be able to take it at any time during the semester, although the most benefit will be gained by taking it in Weeks 5-6.

Due Date: Students will have ten days to complete the quiz prior to the answer guide being issued.

Estimated return date: Immediately after completion. Students may then assess their own answers to the questions by reference to the answer guide. 

Assessment Criteria: This assessment task is optional and no marks attach to it. It is designed to give students feedback on their comprehension of the topics and issues covered in the first two weeks of the course so that they are able to self-assess how they are progressing. Students who are struggling with the course content are encouraged to approach either their tutor or one of the lecturers at this stage.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 0 %
Due Date: 18/03/2019
Return of Assessment: 24/05/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8

Tutorial Attendance

Nature of Task: Compulsory. Failure to attend 7 of 8 tutorials will result in a 5 mark penalty for the course.

Weighting: 0%

Release Date: From Week 3

Due Date: Week 8

Estimated return date: Week 8

Assessment Criteria: The tutorials are designed to give students an opportunity to discuss and practise the skills needed to complete the research essay and the final exam. Class rolls will be taken at the start of each tutorial. It is each student’s responsibility to ensure that he or she is marked as attending their tutorial.

 If you are unable to attend your tutorial or have any concerns about the tutorial program, please contact the Course Convenor. If you are unable to attend your tutorial due to illness or special circumstances you should advise your tutor and retain evidence of the reasons for your absence. If you miss more than one tutorial, you should then provide this evidence to the Course Convenor as soon as is practicable (and in any event, by Monday of Week 12 at the latest).

Assessment Task 3

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 18/03/2019
Return of Assessment: 04/07/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6

Tutorial Participation

Nature of the Task: The tutorials are designed to give students an opportunity to discuss and practice the skills needed to complete the research essay and the final exam. This assessment task will enable evaluation and feedback on students’ capacity in relation to all of the learning objectives for this course. In our view, it is difficult to acquire the requisite knowledge and skills to successfully understand (and hopefully come to enjoy) the ideas in APL if you do not prepare sufficiently to engage with the tutorials. As such, it is expected that all students who are attending a tutorial will have prepared for the tutorial and will participate in discussion. If, for any good reason, you have been unable to prepare for a tutorial, please let the tutor know before the tutorial starts.

Weighting: This component of the course will be worth 10% of the final mark.

Release Date: From Week 3

Due Date: After Week 12

Estimated return date: Participation marks will be available upon request after Week 12

Assessment Criteria: You must demonstrate a willingness to participate in class discussion by asking questions of the tutor or other participating students and/or by commenting upon the comments and questions of others in a manner aimed at facilitating a better understanding of the topic or issues raised in the class. Participation should be informed by attendance at lectures and by having read the required readings for the previous week. Students are encouraged to participate on the understanding that all members of the class be shown respect and be given adequate opportunities to participate.

Specific Assessment Criteria: Participation will be graded according to how well students:

1.      Demonstrate their willingness to participate (e.g. by participating regularly);

2.      Demonstrate their having attended lectures or having listened to lecture recordings, and having read the required reading for the previous week;

3.      Demonstrate an ability to critically evaluate aspects of the tutorial topic or problem, as well as class discussion, and, where appropriate, to apply primary and secondary public law materials to the addressing or solving of those issues and problems;

4.      In participating, demonstrate respect for others and for their contributions.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 50 %
Due Date: 24/04/2019
Return of Assessment: 17/05/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6

Research Essay

Brief description: Students must complete an essay of 3250 words in length from a set list of four questions. The essay offers students an opportunity to engage in further research, analysis and reflection on a topic covered in this course. Students will be expected to undertake independent research, using appropriate primary and secondary resources.

Nature of task: Compulsory and non-redeemable. Any student who does not submit the essay will receive a mark of “0” (Fail) for the essay.

Value or weighting: Essays will be worth 50% of the final mark for the course.

Release date: Friday 1 March (end of week 1)

Due date: 4 pm, Wednesday, 24 April (Week 7) (see below for submission method – note essays must be submitted online (Turnitin) and in hard copy at this time)

Word limit: 3250 words

Estimated return date: By the end of Week 10.

Assessment Criteria:

Essays will be graded according to how well they:

1.      Answer the question asked

The argument in the paper, including the points made to support it, must respond to the question asked. The question will raise many relevant issues within public law. These should be concisely identified, and key issues clearly addressed.

2.      Reason persuasively and demonstrate critical thinking

The key arguments must be logically set out, clearly expressed, and persuasively argued by reference to relevant supporting materials. Consideration of opposing arguments, and suggestions for change where appropriate will indicate a level of critical and original thinking.

3.      Demonstrate sound research and analytical skills

The paper must demonstrate adequate breadth and depth of research, and an ability to apply the research to the question in the construction of key arguments. Primary and secondary materials should be covered.

4.      Make accurate and succinct use of relevant legal materials

Main points in legal materials must be succinctly and accurately set out, and integrated into the essay. All arguments must be supported by relevant authorities.

5.      Are clearly written, structured and referenced

There should be a clear theme or argument in the paper, with key points logically set out and organised, and the ideas linked coherently. Papers should use headings and subheadings, appropriate terminology, and correct grammar, syntax and spelling. The style must also be consistent with the Australian Guide to Legal Citation.

Assessment Task 5

Value: 40 %
Due Date: 06/06/2019
Return of Assessment: 04/07/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,5,6

Take-home final examination

Description of task: The exam, held during the University examination period at the end of the semester, will require students to answer one problem question. Students will be able to choose from two problem questions. The exam is designed to test the practical application of the legal principles covered in all of the lectures (that is, all material covered in weeks 1-12) and the skills practised in the problem-solving tutorials. Legal problem-solving skills are essential attributes for all lawyers, and the exam is an opportunity for those skills to be tested. Students will be required to demonstrate an understanding of the relevant legal principles and apply them to a factual scenario presented in the exam.

Nature of task: Compulsory and non-redeemable. Any student who does not complete the exam will receive a 0 for the exam.

Release: During the final examination period. Please check the course wattle site for updates on the release date.

Duration: 90 minutes writing time, 15 minutes reading time.

Permitted Materials: Any except ANU library books and excluded electronic devices.

Value or weighting: The exam result will be worth 40% of the final mark for the course.

Estimated return date: After final results are released.

Assessment Criteria:

1.      Identify the relevant issues from the factual situation presented in the question;

2.      Identify and accurately explain the applicable legal principles, giving authority;

3.      Accurately and concisely apply the legal principles to the factual situation;

4.      Avoid irrelevant issues;

5.      Comprise a well-structured and written answer that responds to the question and organises ideas and arguments in a logical way; and

6.      Comply with the principles of academic honesty.

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 assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

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).

Matthew Zagor

Research Interests

Matthew Zagor

Matthew Zagor

Wednesday 11:00 13:00
Matthew Zagor
+61 2 6125 34383

Research Interests

Matthew Zagor

Wednesday 11:00 13:00
AsPr Ron Levy
+61 2 6125 34383

Research Interests

AsPr Ron Levy

Prof Anthony Connolly
+61 2 6125 34383

Research Interests

Prof Anthony Connolly

William Bateman
+61 2 6125 34383

Research Interests

William Bateman

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