• Class Number 1563
  • Term Code 3120
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Molly O'Brien
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 07/12/2020
  • Class End Date 15/01/2021
  • Census Date 15/01/2021
  • Last Date to Enrol 18/12/2020
SELT Survey Results

The course examines the extent to which and how international human rights standards are present in, or affect, Australian law.

The course considers history, philosophy and theories of human rights.  It discusses the absence of - and analyses the need for - national human rights legislation in Australia, and reviews where and how human rights are found in Australian law.  This involves considering legislative, executive and judicial action in all jurisdictions, ranging from a National Human Rights Action Plan and the powers of the Australian Human Rights Commission, to human rights legislation in the ACT and Victoria and nationwide anti-discrimination laws.  Particular attention will be paid to various actors such as NGOs and public interest lawyers.

After a thorough examination of 'domestic' human rights, the course looks at the way Australia engages with the international system of human rights, where its conduct is subjec to scrutiny by UN committees.

The course will focus on the human rights of certain groups of people whose human rights are vulnerable in Australia, and will analyse case studies.  The course will feature at least one practical exercise inviting students to engage in human rights action as means of better understanding the material.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Analyse and evaluate how human rights standards are relevant to, and operate in, Australian law;
  2. Identify, distinguish and analyse issues and solutions in relation to human rights standards in the specific context of particular groups of people in Australian society; and
  3. Plan and execute a project that describes, explains, analyses and compares the challenges of working with the law to protect and promote human rights in Australia by constitutional, statutory, common law and/or administrative means.

Research-Led Teaching

This course will be designed around and will engage with guest lecturers and will focus on student ideas, research and debate.

Required Resources

Paula Gerber and Melissa Castan, Contemporary Perspectives on Human Rights Law in Australia, (Lawbook Co., 2013)

The following books (in alphabetical order by author) may be found useful in preparing for your in-class presentations. Copies of each will be in the short term loan section of the Library:

P. Alston & R. Goodman, International human rights

P. Bailey, Human Rights: Australia in an International Context, Butterworths, 1990 – useful as it contains a good deal of relevant history relating to Australia

P. Bailey,  The Australian approach to international law

R. Creyke, Performance of administrative law in protecting rights

B. Gaze, Anti-discrimination laws in Australia

P. Gerber & M. Castan, Contemporary perspectives on human rights law in Australia [course text]

H. Charlesworth, Australian reluctance about rights

D. Kinley (ed), Human Rights Law in Australia – useful for many aspects of Australian law, Federation Press, 1998

J. Leeser, Responding to some arguments in favour of the Bill of Rights

A. McBeth, Australia's performance under its human rights treaty obligations

D. Meagher, Common law principle of legality

N. O’Neill, S. Rice and R. Douglas, Retreat from Injustice: Human Rights Law in Australia, Federation Press, 2004 (2nd ed) – its focus is more on practical than theoretical issues

N. Rees, The Policy goals of Australian anti-discrimination law

N. Rees, K. Lindsay, S. Rice, Australian Discrimination Law: Text, Cases and Materials, Federation Press, 2008 – useful for discrimination law

B. Stefaniak, Reflection on the ACT human rights Act 2004

B. Tamanaha, Universal human good?

G. Williams, Express rights : civil and political

G. Williams, Human Rights under the Australian Constitution OUP, 1999 – useful for constitutional issues

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.

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 7/12 - O’Brien - Course Introduction
2 8/12 - O’Brien - History and theory of human rights
3 9/12 - Zagor, Ng - Refugees
4 10/12 - O’Brien - SDGs and Entropy, Parliamentary Scrutiny
5 11/12 - Wayne Morgan - Sexuality Rights and issues
6 14/12 - O’Brien and guest - Indigenous Rights
7 15/12 - O’Brien - Rights during COVID-19
8 16/12 - Margaret Thornton - Women’s Rights
9 17/12 - O’Brien - Protest during COVID-19
10 18/12 - O’Brien - Discussion and Review

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Online Discussion comments and Online quizzes 0 % * * 1,2
Paper Proposal 5 % 11/12/2020 23/12/2020 1,2,3
Paper Proposal Critique 5 % 18/12/2020 23/12/2020 1,2,3
Research Essay 45 % 01/02/2021 01/03/2021 1,2,3
Online Test 45 % 08/01/2021 29/01/2021 1,2

* 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 Academic Integrity . 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.


The course is conducted in 3.6 hour classes that feature discussion of issues, problems, case studies and scenarios to examine the class topic more closely. This course is designed to be inquiring and discursive, and it will rely on your engagement and discussion to enhance learning.  The course therefore requires your personal presence or online presence and participation. You will not receive a mark for participation, but this is a course that you must participate actively in.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 0 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2

Online Discussion comments and Online quizzes

Nature of task: Optional, not compulsory

Value or weighting: 0% of the course mark

Details: In each class you will have assigned reading to complete. To ensure that in-class discussion is informed and up-to-date, you will be asked a series of questions on the course Wattle site. On some classes these may be formulated as an online quiz. You may take the quiz or not. You also may make a posting to initiate or respond to one of the discussion threads at any time. 

You may answer the questions or insert a comment that is designed to advance the class discussion. Comments will be valued for their insight and initiative, for their attention to and analysis of the issues presented in the reading, and for the apparent understanding. Your comment may answer the questions, pose more questions, propose solutions, or all three.

This task satisfies the requirement that students have an opportunity to receive feedback (formative or summative) before 50% of the course has elapsed.

Due date: Students may decide whether to take a quiz or post a comment.

Word limit: Generally, most comments are between 150 and 500 words.

Referencing Requirements: Reference, if any, must be made in accordance with the AGLC.

Estimated return date: feedback relating to online quizzes and comments will be online.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 5 %
Due Date: 11/12/2020
Return of Assessment: 23/12/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

Paper Proposal

Nature of Task: Compulsory

Value or weighting: The Paper Proposal is weighted at 5% of the course mark. 

Details: The class will begin on day 1 of class discussing ideas for research papers. Students will meet in class in small groups to talk about their ideas. Ideas will be exchanged. Resources will be shared. The paper proposal will be completed by the Friday of the first week. On that same Friday of the first week of class, each student will be assigned another student’s proposal to critique. 

Each Paper Proposal will set out a paper topic. It will:

  • Identify the Australian human right at issue
  • Identify the problem(s) or issue(s) or event(s) relating to the right
  • List and describe at least 5 sources that discuss the right/problem/issue
  • State a tentative thesis about the right/problem/issue (that may indicate future events, legislation, protest or other activity).

Due Date: The Paper Proposal must be handed in by 5 pm on Friday 11 December via the course Wattle site. Due to the nature of the task no extensions are permitted.

Word limit: The Paper Proposal is limited to 500 words.

Referencing Requirements: Reference must be made in accordance with the AGLC.

Estimated return date: The Paper Proposals and Critiques will be returned to you by 23 December 2020.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 5 %
Due Date: 18/12/2020
Return of Assessment: 23/12/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

Paper Proposal Critique

Nature of Task: Compulsory

Value or Weighting: The Paper Proposal Critique is weighted at 5% of the course mark.

Details: Each Paper Proposal Critique must consider whether the Paper Proposal assigned to you has successfully set forth each of the 4 elements of the Paper Proposal. A form to fill out for the Paper Proposal Critique will be provided on Wattle.

Due Date: The Paper Proposal Critique must be submitted to the course Wattle site by 5pm 18 December 2020. Due to the nature of the task no extensions are permitted.

Word limit: The Paper Proposal Critique is limited to the form that will be provided.

Referencing Requirements: Reference must be made in accordance with the AGLC.

Estimated return date: The Paper Proposals and Critiques will be returned to you by 18/12.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 45 %
Due Date: 01/02/2021
Return of Assessment: 01/03/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

Research Essay

Details of task: Students will write a research essay based on the Paper Proposal. Original research will be required. The research essay will require students to conduct independent research that investigates a theme, issue or policy underlying the human right issue. Some topics may deal with material addressed towards the end of the course. Therefore it may be necessary for students to read ahead of the lectures. 

Nature of task: Compulsory. Failure to submit a research essay will result in a 0 for the course.

Value or weighting: 45% of the course mark

Due date: 5pm February 1 2021 via Turnitin. Late submission is permitted but a mark penalty will be imposed.

Word limit: 2,500 words (excluding bibliography)

Penalties for excess word length: Refer to the ANU College of Law website for default word length penalties: https://law.anu.edu.au/current-students/policies-procedures/word-length-and-excess-word-penalties.

Referencing Requirements: Referencing must be in accordance with the AGLC, current edition.

Other requirements: The paper should be in Word format. It should have a bibliography. 

Estimated return date: March 1st 2021.

Assessment Criteria: It is anticipated that the papers must show:

  • significant independent research,
  • be properly referenced,
  • have a clear argument that reaches a clear conclusion,
  • be appropriately structured, and
  • be grammatically sound.

Assessment Rubrics: The criteria for the assessment of the research essay will be set out in a rubric to be posted on the course Wattle site by class 6.      

Assessment Task 5

Value: 45 %
Due Date: 08/01/2021
Return of Assessment: 29/01/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2

Online Test

Details of the task: The online test will ask two questions, each requiring a short essay answer that can be written in 20-30 minutes. The portion of the course that will be covered in the online test will be identified in class and a summary will be posted on Wattle. The online test enables you to demonstrate your understanding of the principles and rules that underpin human rights law in Australia. 

Release Date: January 8 2021, 9:30am-11:00am Canberra Time. 

Duration: 90 minutes (reading and writing time). Submission will take place via Turnitin on the course Wattle site. No late submission is permitted.

Nature of task: Compulsory. Failure to submit an online test will result in a 0 for this task.

If you experience unavoidable and extenuating circumstances and cannot sit the online test at the due date and time, you should apply for an extension to the College of Law student admin team here:


The College will give you one opportunity to sit the online test, at the same time one week later. This will be your final opportunity to sit the online test. 

Value or weighting: 45% of the course mark

Assessment criteria: The online test questions will seek specific answers and analysis. Your answer should express a principled point of view that is based on specific information. Each response will be assessed for accuracy and sufficiency. More specific information pertaining to the online test will be released in class and on Wattle before the end of classes.

It is anticipated that answers to the online test must:

  • have a clear argument that reaches a clear conclusion,
  • demonstrates knowledge of course materials
  • be appropriately structured
  • be grammatically sound
  • be referenced in accordance with any online test instructions

Estimated return date: January 29 2021

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).

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