• 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

This course explores the complex, subtle and still-evolving role of the High Court as a legal, political and social institution in the Australian constitutional system. Because it examines the role of the High Court as an institution, the unit has no fixed substantive legal content.

The course will focus on the High Court's role in the development of Australian constitutional law, employing a historical and biographical lens, though students may wish to explore other areas of law in their research papers.

Topics explored in the course will vary, in part, according to the participant's research interests. Indicative topics include:the creation of the High Court and its early struggle to assert itself;

  • the Privy Council and the High Court;

  • the appointment and removal of judges (including the Piddington and Murphy affairs);

  • the High Court’s role in the development of Australian law;

  • the High Court’s jurisdiction and procedures, and the impact of that on the development of the law;

  • landmark cases in Australian constitutional law, and their impact on the High Court;

  • the extra-judicial activities of High Court judges;

  • the value of biography, and oral history in an examination of the Court’s function;

  • the inner workings of the High Court (including, the role of associates); and the High Court in popular culture.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Identify and explain, to demonstrate cognitive and technical skills in developing an extended understanding of the High Court’s role and function in Australian history and contemporary society, and the social, political and legal factors that have framed that function;
  2. Identify and critically examine the institutional aspects, including for example, management of the High Court, including appointments, funding and relationships with the other arms of government;
  3. Critically review, analyse and evaluate the High Court’s role in landmark cases in Australian constitutional law;
  4. Develop and communicate a critical analyses, using the perspective that an institutional, historical and biographical lens can offer on Australian constitutional law and the development of the High Court’s function;
  5. Plan and execute a research project to demonstrate legal research principles and methodologies in applying critical analysis and application of legal principles and practice to complex issues arising in relation to the High Court.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Draft research paper/outline and oral presentation (20) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
  2. Final essay (80) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]

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. 

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 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 Legal Practice (MLEGP), 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). 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

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.

Preliminary Reading

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


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.

There are no current offerings for this course.

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