• Class Number 2222
  • Term Code 3030
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Matthew Zagor
    • Dr Jelena Gligorijevic
    • Matthew Zagor
    • AsPr Ron Levy
  • 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

This course examines the structure and themes of Australian public law, providing a bridge to all other public law study in the curriculum. In essence, the course examines how public power is structured, distributed, and controlled in Australia. The distinctive roles played by the legislature, the executive and the judiciary receive special attention. Subsidiary themes in the course are protection of individual rights in the Australian legal system, and constitutional change and evolution in Australia. The following topics will be covered:

  • the constitutional and legislative framework for Australian public law
  • major concepts and themes in Australian public law, including federalism, separation of powers, constitutionalism, representative democracy, rule of law, and liberalism
  • the Legislature, including the structure of Australian legislatures, parliamentary supremacy, and express and implied constitutional limitations on legislative power
  • the Executive, including the structure of Executive government, executive power, and liability of the Crown
  • the Judiciary, including the constitutional separation of judicial power, and the administrative law implications of judicial separation
  • constitutional change and evolution, including constitutional amendment.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Describe and explain the reasons why countries adopt written constitutions to regulate the control of government power and the key features of Australia’s Constitution, including the capacity for constitutional change;
  2. Identify and analyse the core features, principles and rules of the Australian constitutional framework covered in the course;
  3. Analyse and predict how unresolved and/or ambiguous questions of public law could be resolved by the courts through an analysis of case law, underlying policy and the judicial method;
  4. Identify and use a range of legally specific research principles, methods and tools appropriate to plan and execute a public law research project;
  5. Select and apply a range of approaches to written and oral communication, and apply the critical thinking required to bring about solutions to complex legal problems and/or issues in the context of advising a client in an Australian public law matter.
  6. Access, use, interpret and apply a range of domestic secondary legal resources to solve complex public law problems/issues.

Research-Led Teaching

The content of this course is informed by the research interests and expertise of the lecturers.

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: 5th ed, 2019);
  • Hanks, Peter, Frances Gordon and Graeme Hill, Constitutional Law in Australia (LexisNexis Butterworths, 4th ed, 2018);
  • 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:

  • written comments
  • verbal comments
  • feedback to the whole class, to groups, to individuals, focus groups

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 current Grading Distribution Policy has been suspended pending the development of a new policy. For further information about the interim policy 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 and updates 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
5 The Legislature III: Limitations on Legislative Power: Delegation and Abdication of Legislative Power
6 The Executive I: The Structure of the Executive & the Nature and Content of Executive Power
7 The Executive II: Executive Power (Prerogative & Nationhood)
8 The Executive III: Spending & Accountability
9 The Judiciary I: The Nature and Separation of Judicial Power
10 The Judiciary II: Judicial Adjustment of the Separation of Judicial Power;
11 The Judiciary III: the States
12 Course Review and Exam Prep

Tutorial Registration

Tutorials will run from weeks 4-11. Tutorial slots will be released two weeks before the course starts. Students will be able to swap tutorials up until the start of the tutorial program in Week 4 but not afterwards.

More information about tutorial enrolment will be provided in the first lecture and on the WATTLE site for the course. However, be aware that, in most cases, once you have chosen a tutorial group to attend you must attend that tutorial group throughout the whole semester. Students who need to change tutorial group (for a good reason) must contact the Convenor of the Tutorial Program.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Optional Online Quiz 0 % 01/04/2020 24/04/2020 1, 2, 6
Research Essay 55 % 28/04/2020 22/05/2020 1,2,3,4,5,6
Online Final Examination 40 % * 09/07/2020 1,2,3,5,6
Public Law Reflective Piece 5 % 05/06/2020 12/06/2020 1,2,3,4,5,6

* 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.


Please note that there is an exam in this course. The date for the exam in the assessment summary is approximate only. Students should check the examinations timetable once it has been released to confirm date and time of the exam.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 0 %
Due Date: 01/04/2020
Return of Assessment: 24/04/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 6

Optional Online Quiz

Details of Task: This online quiz is designed to give students feedback on their comprehension of the topics and issues covered in the first five weeks of the course. It will cover the principles set out in weeks 1-2, and key ideas discussed in the lectures and flagship jurisprudence about the legislature and legislative power. Students who are struggling with the course content are encouraged to approach either their tutor or one of the lecturers at this stage.

Nature of Task: Optional.

Weighting: 0%

Release Date: The quiz will be posted on the course WATTLE site in Week 5 and an answer guide to the questions will be posted there at the end of 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 Task 2

Value: 55 %
Due Date: 28/04/2020
Return of Assessment: 22/05/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6

Research Essay

Details of Task: Students must complete an essay 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 0 for this task.

Value or weighting: 55%

Release date: Friday 28 February (end of week 1)

Due date: 5pm Tuesday 28 April (Week 7) via Turnitin. Late submission (without an extension) is permitted, although late penalties will apply.

Word limit: 2600 words

Estimated return date: By the end of Week 10

Assessment Criteria:

Essays will be graded according to how well they:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 3

Value: 40 %
Return of Assessment: 09/07/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,5,6

Online 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 an 0 for the exam.

Timing: During the final examination period.

Duration: 90 minutes writing time.

Weighting: 40%

Estimated return date: After final results are released

Assessment Criteria: Exam scripts will be graded according to how well they:

  • Identify the relevant issues from the factual situation presented in the question;
  • Identify and accurately explain the applicable legal principles, giving authority;
  • Accurately and concisely apply the legal principles to the factual situation;
  • Avoid irrelevant issues;
  • Comprise a well-structured and written answer that responds to the question and organises ideas and arguments in a logical way; and
  • Comply with the principles of academic honesty.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 5 %
Due Date: 05/06/2020
Return of Assessment: 12/06/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6

Public Law Reflective Piece

Details of Task: Reflection on a reading, judicial decision, or contemporary news item by reference to the themes, norms, principles and/or jurisprudence covered in the course.

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

Value or weighting: 5%

Release date: Week 6 (Mon 20 April 2020)

Due date: Fri 5 June 2020

Word limit: 200 words

Estimated return date: The week before the examination period. 

Assessment Criteria: Reflective pieces will be assessed by reference to the relevance to the course themes, norms, principles and jurisprudence. Students will be expected to demonstrate engagement with these factors, as well as accuracy in their understanding and application to the issue discussed. Given the brevity of the piece, students should not be overly descriptive.

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 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. 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 Jelena Gligorijevic
+61 2 6125 1108

Research Interests

Dr Jelena Gligorijevic

Matthew Zagor
+61 2 6125 4911

Research Interests

Matthew Zagor

Wednesday 16:00 17:00
AsPr Ron Levy
+61 2 6125 0814

Research Interests

AsPr Ron Levy

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