• Offered by ANU School of Legal Practice
  • ANU College ANU College of Law
  • Classification Transitional
  • Course subject Legal Practice MLP
  • Areas of interest Law, Computer Science, Legal Practice
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Scott Chamberlain
  • Mode of delivery Online
  • Offered in First Semester 2020
    See Future Offerings

The technology of blockchain, smart contracts, and AI is set to revolutionise many industries. It allows for automated, trust-minimised interactions that limit the need for gatekeepers and middlemen. The widespread adoption of the technology could have profound impacts on the law, lawyers, and the justice system since lawyers and governments are key gatekeepers and middlemen in the justice delivery process. This course examines the legal issues underlying the "Lex Automagica" tech stack of blockchain, smart contracts, and AI. It provides an overview of each layer of the technology, how they can interact, and an examination of the many legal and policy issues arising from the implementation of the technology. It will examine the many other uses to which blockchain is or may be applied, including the development of so-called smart contracts. It concludes with an holistic view of the ways blockchains may impact the shape of our legal systems and our societies as more and more social and commercial interactions are forced “on-chain”.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Research, synthesise and analyse the legal principles and issues arising from the use of blockchains, digital assets and smart contract technology.
  2. Synthesise and critically evaluate current and potential laws regulating blockchains, smart contracts and digital assets.
  3. Critically reflect on the way in which these technologies may impact the law, access to justice, and society generally.
  4. Assess current policy, legal and regulatory frameworks in order to develop proposals which recommend changes required to improve the use and adoption of blockchain, digital assets and smart contracts in legal and regulatory processes.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Blockchain - Selected Legal Issues - Group Presentation (15) [LO 1,2]
  2. Digital Assets - Selected Legal Issues - Group Presentation (15) [LO 1,2]
  3. Smart Contracts - Build, Deploy & Critique a Smart Contract - Group Project (20) [LO 1,2,3]
  4. Major Research Paper - Blockchain Law, Governance & Justice (50) [LO 1,2,3,4]

In response to COVID-19: Please note that Semester 2 Class Summary information (available under the classes tab) is as up to date as possible. Changes to Class Summaries not captured by this publication will be available to enrolled students via Wattle. 

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This is a 6-unit course, which is considered to have the equivalent full time student load (EFTSL) of 6/48 = 0.125. The number of hours allocated to an EFTSL of 0.125 is 10 – 12 hours per week. The course will have a weekly 2-hour online lectures/workshops/tutorials. Otherwise, students work individually or in small teams with mentor assistance on small research projects and individually on their major research project.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must be studying a: Master of Laws (7300XLLM, MLLM), Master of Legal Practice (MLEGP), OR Juris Doctor (7330XJD, 7330HJD or MJD) and have completed or be completing five 1000 or 6100 level LAWS courses; OR Master of Military Law (MMILL); 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

No prescribed texts

Preliminary Reading


WERBACH, K. (2018). The blockchain and the new architecture of trust. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.

WALCH, A (2018) "In Code(rs) We Trust: Software Developers as Fiduciaries in Public Blockchains" (https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3203198)

Assumed Knowledge

General understanding or interest in blockchain/crypto-currencies


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
2020 $4320
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $5760
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
4572 24 Feb 2020 02 Mar 2020 08 May 2020 05 Jun 2020 Online View

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