• Offered by ANU Law School
  • ANU College ANU College of Law
  • Classification Advanced
  • Course subject Laws
  • Areas of interest Law
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Mode of delivery In Person

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:

  1. Explain and analyse the main legal principles governing the management of water resources in the student’s jurisdiction and compare and contrast these principles with those of other jurisdictions;
  2. Identify and evaluate the legal effect of the national water policy reforms agreed by CoAG and implemented by State and Commonwealth legislation;
  3. Apply the principal legal and policy materials within the student’s jurisdiction to the management of water resources in their own jurisdiction; and
  4. Research, critically examine and communicate in writing about a problem or specific aspect of water law.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Class presentation and participation (10) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  2. Short essay on class presentation topic (10) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  3. Research Essay (5,000 words) (80) [LO 1,2,3,4]

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.


Classes offered in non-standard sessions will be taught on an intensive base with compulsory contact hours (approximately 26 hours of face to face teaching). The course will also require advanced preparation through assigned readings. In total, it is anticipated that the hours required for completion of this course (class preparation, teaching and completion of assessment) will not exceed 120 hours. Classes offered during semester periods are expected to have 3 contact hours per week.

Click here for the LLM Masters Program timetable.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must be studying a: Master of Laws (7300XLLM, MLLM), Master of Laws specialising in International Law (7300XSINTL), Master of Laws specialising in Law, Governance and Development (7300SLGD), Master of Laws specialising in Environmental 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 (NLLML), Master of Laws in International Law (NLLIL), 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), Master of Legal Practice (MLEGP), 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); OR Juris Doctor (7330XJD, 7330HJD or MJD) and have completed or be completing five 1000 level LAWS courses or five 6100 level LAWS courses; OR Graduate Certificate of Law (CLAW) and have completed or be completing LAWS8586 Law and Legal Institutions; OR Master of Military Law (MMILL); OR Juris Doctor - online (MJDOL) and have completed LAWS8712 Australian Public Law & International Law B. Students undertaking any ANU graduate program may apply for this course. Enrolments are accepted on a case-by-case basis. Please contact the ANU College of Law for permission number.

Prescribed Texts

The prescribed text for this course is
  • A Gardner, R Bartlett & J Gray, Water Resources Law, LexisNexis Butterworths, Australia, 2009.

Preliminary Reading

Students must rely on the approved Class Summary which will be posted to the Programs and Courses site approximately 2 weeks prior to the commencement of the course.

An e-brick will be available on the Wattle course site.

Assumed Knowledge

Students without an Australian law degree must have completed LAWS8189 Fundamentals of Environmental Law


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
2019 $3840
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2019 $5460
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.

There are no current offerings for this course.

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