• Class Number 4715
  • Term Code 3030
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Topic Colonialism, the rule of law, Asian studies
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Nick Cheesman
    • Desmond Manderson
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 24/02/2020
  • Class End Date 05/06/2020
  • Census Date 08/05/2020
  • Last Date to Enrol 02/03/2020
SELT Survey Results

The rule of law is a specific historical development of global significance, and one that is inextricable from colonial histories and postcolonial conditions. Proponents throughout the world, including Australia and the Asia-Pacific, point to it as a solution to an array of problems. Critics for their part lambast it as neocolonial and exploitative. In this course, we cover the ground between these poles by turning to the rule of law in its particulars, through study of its relationship to colonialism and post-colonialism in Asia, Australia and beyond. By bringing together extractive colonial and settler colonial cases we aim to identify similarities and differences in the experience of colonialism and the rule of law, and query both the idea of the rule of law as preeminent political ideal for our time as well as contrariwise positions that treat it as nothing other than a fig leaf for colonial domination and oppression. Importantly, we will also look at the continuing legacy of colonial legal and political histories, and the relationship of the rule of law to political and social crises in our time. 

By taking an historical and cultural approach to the rule of law, we will expand and deepen our understanding of these regions' pasts and present day conditions, as well as adopt an empirically informed perspective on how and why the rule of law is so pervasive. Students will gain new insights into legal history and colonial power in a wide variety of places, including but not limited to Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Singapore, as well as through regional organisations. They will also consider in detail how the interaction between colonialism and the rule of law in Australia is at once distinct from and similar to that of the country’s regional neighbours. 

This course is jointly taught in the College of Asia and the Pacific and the ANU College of Law. The Department of Political and Social Change is offering the course for students enrolled in the Bachelor of Asian Studies and in Bachelor of Arts in the College of Arts and Social Sciences, and in the ANU Law School for students enrolled in LLB and JD programs. The course will also be open to students in the Bachelor of Arts, and we expect interest from students doing the sociology, politics, development studies and human rights majors in particular. The course is deliberately interdisciplinary in its contents, modes of instruction and methods. It draws on a rich comparative socio-legal, anthropological, sociological and political scientific literature that in recent years has delivered an impressive range of studies on the rule of law in different colonial times and places, and work that ties the empirical contents of the course to overarching concepts of legality, authority and power.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Define and analyse keywords and contemporary debates shared across the disciplines of law, history, politics, and culture, addressing a variety of approaches to the rule of law, law and development, colonialism, and post-colonialism in Asia.
  2. Compare, contrast and reflect on contemporary issues in the rule of law and colonial legacies across Asia and in Australia.
  3. Recognise, distinguish and appraise research and methods across different fields in law and the social sciences, with specific reference to the different countries studied during the course.
  4. Evaluate and compare a variety of textual sources from a range of different disciplines, periods, and genres.
  5. Independently problem-solve by evaluating, planning, and executing interdisciplinary scholarship and research.

Research-Led Teaching

This unit is being co-taught with the College of Law - LAWS4309. It forms part of a major interdisciplinary and cross-College initiative. It introduces students to new research paradigms that connect law to the cultural forces and representations around us. Whether as a lawyer, an activist, a legislator, a writer, a diplomat, or a citizen, we face global challenges that require of us the ability to understand the relationship between legal and other important cultural discourses, both in texts and on the ground, in specic social and political contexts. This is not a course in doctrinal law—what law is—but in legal theory and method—how law works. It brings together the interdisciplinary research interests of the two course convenors, based in the College of Law and in the Department of Political and Social Change, and represents part of an ongoing collaboration which addresses in a comprehensive way the origins, development, and troubles of the rule of law in the context of colonialism and post-colonialism around the world. 

Required Resources

Attention, enthusiasm, and a commitment to read and participate in each class. 

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.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
2 The Rule of Law: Metropole and Colony
4 Times: Abysses of Colonial Temporality
5 Bodies: The Whiteness of Australia
6 PART III. EXTRACTIVE COLONIALISM Bodies: The Rule of Colonial Difference
7 Times: States of Emergency
8 Places: Law's Geo-bodies
10 Times: Regimes of Exception?
11 Places: The Rule of Law's Imaginary Life on the Ground
12 Conclusion: Neocolonialism and the Rule of Law?

Tutorial Registration

Sign up sheets for tutorials will be made available prior to the commencement of classes

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Learning Outcomes
Short response essays 30 % * 1,2,4
Tutorial leading 10 % * 1,2,3,4
Final research essay 60 % 04/06/2020 1,2,3,4,5

* 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.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 30 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,4

Short response essays

Brief Description: The short response essay will test critical ability, writing ability, and comprehension. Students will be asked to provide TWO short essays in response to a specific question which will relate to the set texts and readings, from a series of questions. The questions will focus on the student's ability to articulate, illustrate, and if possible critique specific concepts in the readings, and to relate it to the relevant text. Students will be required to submit two pieces of work to satisfy this assessment requirement, and can choose any weeks and any questions that interests them or suit their schedule. Please note however that the questions will relate to a specific reading or readings and students will be required to submit their answer BEFORE the lecture to which the question relates. No submission after the lecture will be accepted.

Nature of Task: Compulsory. Failure to complete the task will result in a 0 for the task.

Weighting: 2 x 15% = 30% in total

Word Limit: 600 words

Duration: 1 week from release of questions till due date (new questions released each week)

Release: Ongoing. Weeks 1, 2, 3 via course Wattle page. Questions will be released a week before they are due.

Due date: The essays are due no later than 9:00 AM PRIOR to the lecture / seminar set down for this week.

Estimated return date: Three weeks after submission.

Assessment Criteria: Writing, Comprehension, and Critical ability. A rubric will be uploaded on to Wattle. 

Assessment Task 2

Value: 10 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

Tutorial leading

Brief Description: In order to encourage class participation, students will be asked to contribute actively to class discussion by signing up as a tutorial leader for one week. They can choose any week to complete this task but are required to sign up for it via the online portal in the first week of classes. Students can choose to focus on specific readings set down for that week's classes, or to read the prescribed readings in general. They can expect to be called on in class to actively participate, and are encouraged to volunteer whenever they feel comfortable doing so. The assessment will evaluate both the depth and care in reading prescribed materials demonstrated, and also the way in which their contributions added to the overall atmosphere, engagement, and interest of the tutorial.

Nature of Task: Compulsory. Failure to complete the task will result in a 0 for the task.

Weighting: 10%

Word Limit: There is no specific word limit.

Release: Ongoing. students are required to sign up for a particular tutorial in the first week of classes but we recognise that matters out of their control might require some rescheduling.

Due date: The discussion and presentation takes place in the relevant tutorial for which the student has nominated.

Estimated return date: incorporated in final grade for this unit

Assessment Criteria:

·        Participation and attendance

·        listening ability

·        articulation and reflection

·        ability to contribute constructively to class discussions

·        ability to respond respectfully to the contributions of others

Students will be assessed on both their analytic and critical ability, the quality of their questions, and their willingness to participate. A rubric will be uploaded on to Wattle.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 60 %
Due Date: 04/06/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Final research essay

Details of Task: This research essay will enable students to apply their skills and knowledge to a theme, legal history or place of their choice. It will encourage high level interdisciplinary research and independent learning. The format of the course will allow students to complete the essay on their own schedule. This will give students greater capacity to explore their research and develop their interests. The convenors will be available to consult with students over their essays throughout the semester by email phone and face to face.

Nature of Task: Compulsory. Failure to complete this task will result in a 0 for this task.

Weighting: 60%

Word limit: 2,500

Due date: 11.59pm Thursday 4 June 2020 via Turnitin . Late submissions (without an extension) are accepted, but late penalties will apply.

Estimated return date: at end of examination period after confirmation of all results

Assessment Criteria:

• knowledge of readings and themes of course,

• ability to research in the areas of interdisciplinary study covered by the course, • ability to design and carry out independent research and writing,

• writing ability,

• critical ability,

• understanding of course materials.

A rubric will be uploaded onto wattle. 

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically, committing to honest and responsible scholarly practice and upholding these values with respect and fairness.

The ANU commits to assisting all members of our community to 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 be familiar with the academic integrity principle and Academic Misconduct Rule, 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 Academic Misconduct Rule is in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Very minor breaches of the academic integrity principle may result in a reduction of marks of up to 10% of the total marks available for the assessment. The ANU offers a number of online and in person services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. Visit the Academic Skills website for more information about academic integrity, your responsibilities and for assistance with your assignments, writing skills and study.

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 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. Extensions may be granted 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).

Dr Nick Cheesman

Research Interests

political order, the rule of law, the state, sovereignty, authority, power, impunity, human rights, torture; Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, South and Southeast Asia

Dr Nick Cheesman

By Appointment
Desmond Manderson

Research Interests

Desmond Manderson

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