• Class Number 6672
  • Term Code 3050
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery Online
    • Prof Leighton McDonald
    • Prof Leighton McDonald
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 31/08/2020
  • Class End Date 23/10/2020
  • Census Date 11/09/2020
  • Last Date to Enrol 31/08/2020
SELT Survey Results

This course is designed to give students an opportunity to explore contemporary issues in Australian administrative law. Issues will be examined both from a practical and theoretical dimension. There will be an introductory session designed to place the various topics covered in the overall context of the contemporary Australian administrative law system. But the course is aimed at students who have a good solid understanding of Australian administrative law.
The course covers: a variety of contemporary issues arising in the law of judicial review (largely focusing on significant cases decided in the last 3 years); the amalgamation of Commonwealth tribunals; current challenges for the office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman; issues arising with the administration of Freedom of information legislation; and the role of parliamentary scrutiny committees in the protection of administrative law values. Students will have the capacity to go beyond these topics in their class presentations and research essays.


Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Demonstrate mastery of knowledge and understanding of the range of current issues currently influencing developments in the Australian Administrative Law system;
  2. Explain, critically analyse and integrate that knowledge and understanding so as to evaluate and anticipate future developments in administrative law;
  3. Identify, review and critically contribute, using a range of research principles and methods, to scholarly discussion on principles and practices underlying current developments in administrative law;
  4. Investigate and analyse the interrelationships between recent developments in administrative law and their influence on fundamental administrative law and broader public law principles;
  5. Generate and critically analyse knowledge of administrative law principles to demonstrate their application to a variety of complex problems in both practical and theoretical contexts; and
  6. Plan, research and critically analyse and evaluate legal scholarship and other material discussing recent developments to produce a professional piece of written work.

Research-Led Teaching

The course will include consideration of current research and contemporary issues and taught by scholar who actively publishes in the area of administrative law.

Recent papers in administrative law include:

  • ‘The Purpose of Administrative Law and the Legitimacy of Administrative Government’ (2019) 30 Public Law Review 330
  • ‘Jurisdictional Error as Conceptual Totem’ (2019) UNSW Law Journal 1019
  • Graham and the Constitutionalisation of Australian Administrative Law' (2018) 91 AIAL Forum 47
  • ‘The Normative Structure of Australian Administrative Law’ (2017) 45 Federal Law Review 153 (with Will Bateman)
  • ‘Reasons, Reasonableness and Intelligible Justification in Judicial Review’ (2015) 37 Sydney Law Review 467
  • 'Rethinking Unreasonableness Review' (2014) 25 Public Law Review 117

The major assessment provides an opportunity for students to produce their own research. The class presentation provides an opportunity for feedback on a research plan.

Required Resources

An E-brick will be available on the Wattle site. The E-brick contains all of the required readings and the (optional) background and further reading for each topic.

Students who have not recently studied administrative law may wish to generally consult, Peter Cane, Leighton McDonald and Kristen Rundle, Principles of Administrative Law (3rd ed, Oxford University Press, 2018) and/or Matthew Groves (ed), Modern Administrative Law in Australia: Concepts and Context (Cambridge University Press, 2014).

Staff Feedback

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

  • written comments
  • verbal comments
  • feedback to whole class and to individuals

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

Please note that all submission times refer to Canberra time (AEST/AEDT).

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

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 any announcements relating to the course.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Administrative law as an integrity branch??
2 Administrative Law, the Administrative State and the Rule of Law
3 Freedom of Information – lessons from recent experience
4 The Changing Role of the Ombudsman
5 Parliamentary Scrutiny Committees
6 Delegated Legislation
7 Algorithmic Decision-Making and Legality
8 Deference and Statutory Interpretation (and comparative administrative law)
9 The remaining topics (9-16) will predominantly be based on student presentations. It is envisaged there will also be a session on the role of jurisdictional error in Australian judicial review law; and a concluding session on the 'anatomy' of administrative law.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Participation 10 % * 30/10/2020 1,2,4
Essay Plan Presentation 15 % * 30/10/2020 3,4,5,6
Research Essay 75 % 16/11/2020 03/12/2020 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.


For all courses taught in intensive mode, the ANU College of Law considers participation in the classes offered to be an important part of the educational experience of the graduate program and students are required to attend ALL classes (and all of each class).

In exceptional circumstances, a student may be granted permission by the Course Convenor, in consultation with the Stream Convenor or Director, LLM Program, to miss some classes, provided:

(a)    it does not exceed a maximum of 25% of the classes;

(b)    permission is requested in advance; and

(c)    the request is supported, where appropriate, by adequate documentation.

Failure to comply with this policy may result in a student receiving the grade of NCN (non-complete fail). The normal pressures of work or planned personal trips do not constitute exceptional circumstances to justify an exemption from full compliance of this policy.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 10 %
Return of Assessment: 30/10/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,4


Nature of the task: Students will be asked to participate in discussion and engage in various exercises and problems throughout the course. Students will also be asked to provide feedback on presentations by other students.

Assessment criteria

Marks will be awarded on the basis of:

  • Quality of the contribution to class discussion, demonstrating an understanding of the material being discussed and issues being considered.
  • Willingness and ability to provide constructive and practical feedback to other students after listening to their presentations.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 15 %
Return of Assessment: 30/10/2020
Learning Outcomes: 3,4,5,6

Essay Plan Presentation

Nature of the task: This task is compulsory. Failure to present the essay plan, or hand in your outline, will result in a mark of 0 for the task.

Students will be given the opportunity to present an essay plan. Essay topics must be approved by the convenor by 14 September 2020. Students are invited to discuss potential topics with the Convenor. Note: it may not be possible to allocate all students their preferred presentation/essay topic (given the need to avoid overlap of topics.)

The order of presentations will be finalised by 9 October 2020 and notified to students on the course WATTLE page.

Presentations will be approximately 15 minutes and will include 5-10 minutes for questions on each presentation. The exact time allocated for presentations will be advised by 9 October 2020 (as it depends in part on final enrolment numbers). Students must provide a 1-2 page outline of their presentation at the time of delivery.


There are two alternative approaches that may be taken to the essay plan presentation:

1.   Present a structured essay plan which:

  • Sets out what you propose to investigate (ie clearly states your essay question)
  • Explains the significance of the topic
  • Explains the structure you propose
  • Gives a sense of the overall argument you expect to make and the contribution the paper will make to the literature, and
  • Presents, at least in preliminary form, your argument or a key aspect of it.


2.   Critically assess an important source/s (article, book, case, report, etc) for your essay, which involves:

  • An explanation of why the source is significant in the context of your chosen essay question
  • Makes an argument about that source and indicates why that argument will be of importance in the context of the essay


Assessment criteria

Presentations will be assessed on the quality of oral presentation—that is, the clarity of argument and ability to engage the class and stimulate discussion—and the extent the presentation:

  • demonstrates an understanding of the context and issues involved in the chosen essay question;
  • enhances the audience’s understanding of the context and issues involved in the chosen area;
  • provides an indication of the contribution the student is expecting to make in exploring the issue further in their essay;
  • suggests at least an initial exploration of the issue through relevant and appropriate research into the topic area; and
  • provides a critical and constructive analysis of the material presented.

The main, overarching, criterion of assessment is depth of thinking, which applies to all areas of assessment in this course. Depth of thinking is the extent to which you are able to analyse, synthesise, abstract and generalise the principles, practices, concepts, arguments, or theories being considered to make an argument.


Submission Date: Presentations will be scheduled over the course of the final 4 days of scheduled classes (ie the sessions held in October). Given the nature of the task, late submission is not possible. Marks will be allocated within approximately a week of the completion of the course.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 75 %
Due Date: 16/11/2020
Return of Assessment: 03/12/2020
Learning Outcomes: 3,4,5,6

Research Essay

Nature of the task: This task is compulsory. If you do not submit an essay you will receive a mark of 0 for the task. The main component of assessment in this course will involve completion of a 4000-5000 word essay. Any substantial changes to the essay topic, approved for the purposes of the class presentation, must be approved by the course convenor at least 3 weeks prior to submission.

Length: 4500-5000 words

Due: 5pm, Monday 16 November 2020. Late submissions without an extension are permitted, although late penalties will apply.

Assessment criteria

The essay will be assessed on the extent it:

  • demonstrates a sophisticated understanding of the context and issues involved in the chosen topic.
  • enhance the reader’s understanding of the context and issues involved in the chosen topic
  • makes an interesting and illuminating contribution to the scholarship or commentary on the chosen topic
  • makes appropriate use of extensive, relevant and considered research into the chosen topic
  • provides a critical and constructive analysis of the material, scholarship and commentary available on the chosen topic
  • conforms to the citation style set out in the Australian Guide to Legal Citation, 4th ed.

 The main, overarching, criterion of assessment is depth of thinking, which applies to all areas of assessment in this course. Depth of thinking is the extent to which you are able to analyse, synthesise, abstract and generalise the principles, practices, concepts, arguments, or theories being considered.

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).

Prof Leighton McDonald

Research Interests

Administrative law, public law, legal theory

Prof Leighton McDonald

By Appointment
Prof Leighton McDonald
+61 2 6125 3483

Research Interests

Prof Leighton McDonald

By Appointment

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