• Class Number 6518
  • Term Code 3170
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery Online
    • Prof James Stellios
    • Robert French
    • Prof James Stellios
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 06/09/2021
  • Class End Date 22/10/2021
  • Census Date 01/10/2021
  • Last Date to Enrol 07/09/2021
SELT Survey Results

This course is designed to give students an opportunity to explore contemporary issues in Australian constitutional law. Issues will be examined both from a practical and theoretical dimension.

The contemporary topics examined in the course may change each year, to reflect constitutional law developments and the interest of participants. Illustrative examples of issues that could be covered at present include:

  • the implied right to vote;
  • recent implied freedom of political communication cases;
  • Pape v Commissioner of Taxation, Williams v Commonwealth and the nature of executive power;
  • section 96 grants;
  • referrals of power and other cooperative schemes;
  • Momcilovic v The Queen;
  • section 109 inconsistency;
  • same-sex marriage;
  • the position of the territories;
  • minority government;
  • constitutional interpretation;
  • proportionality;
  • use of comparative and international law;
  • procedural issues, including agreeing to facts;
  • the role of interveners and amicus curiae; and
  •  constitutional change.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Demonstrate mastery of knowledge and understanding of the range of current issues currently influencing developments in the Australian constitutional law;
  2. Explain, critically analyse and integrate that knowledge and understanding so as to evaluate and anticipate future developments in Australian constitutional law;
  3. Identify, review and critically contribute, using a range of research principles and methods, to scholarly discussion on principles and practices underlying current developments in constitutional law;
  4. Investigate and analyse the interrelationships between recent developments in constitutional law and its influence on broader public law principles;
  5. Generate and critically analyse knowledge of constitutional law principles and demonstrate application to a variety of complex problems in both practical and theoretical contexts; and
  6. Plan, research and critically analyse and evaluate legal scholarship and other material discussing recent developments to produce a professional piece of written work.

Research-Led Teaching

The course is designed for students to benefit from the expertise of its teachers.

Prof French was Chief Justice of the High Court and, before that, a Judge of the Federal Court of Australia. 

Prof Stellios is an active researcher in the area of federal jurisdiction, including his book The Federal Judicature: Chapter III of the Constitution (LexisNexis, 2nd ed, 2020).

Required Resources

There is no prescribed text for this course. Course materials and a reading guide will be available on the Wattle course-page.

The following texts may be accessed to supplement your learning in this course:

  • Mark Leeming, Authority to Decide: The Law of Jurisdiction in Australia (The Federation Press, 2nd ed, 2012)
  • Geoffrey Lindell, Cowen and Zines’s Federal Jurisdiction in Australia (The Federation Press, 4th ed, 2016)
  • James Stellios, The Federal Judicature: Chapter III of the Constitution (LexisNexis, 2nd ed, 2020)

Staff Feedback

Detailed written feedback on assessment performance will be provided on the Essay.

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 interim scaling guideline applies to all courses in the LLB (Hons) and JD programs. 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 relating to the course.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Introduction Broad outline of constitutional and statutory scheme for the exercise of federal jurisdiction Central concepts: Jurisdiction vs power The meaning of the word ‘matter’ Heads of federal jurisdiction in ss 75 and 76 of the Constitution Enlivening federal jurisdiction Accrued jurisdiction
2 State courts exercising federal jurisdiction Territory courts exercising federal jurisdiction Chapter III limitations on State Parliaments: the Kable principle
3 Section 75(v), jurisdictional error and privative clauses Lower federal courts: history, establishment and jurisdiction
4 State and Territory tribunals The High Court's appellate jurisdiction Laws applicable in federal jurisdiction

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Casenote 20 % 24/09/2021 08/10/2021 1,3
Essay 80 % 29/10/2021 26/11/2021 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. Students may choose not to submit assessment items through Turnitin. In this instance you will be required to submit, alongside the assessment item itself, hard copies of all references included in the assessment item.

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.


For all courses taught in any mode (whether face to face or online), the ANU College of Law considers participation in the classes offered to be an important part of the educational experience of the graduate program. Students are expected to attend all classes.

If circumstances arise which are beyond a student’s control and they are unable to attend a class, the student should contact the Course Convenor in advance (where possible), so that the convenor can adjust their expectations in relation to numbers for that class. If it is not possible to give advance notice, students should send the convenor an email as soon as possible with evidence to support the reason for failure to attend. 

Assessment Task 1

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 24/09/2021
Return of Assessment: 08/10/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,3


Nature of Task: The course is designed to introduce students to federal jurisdiction. For this assessment task, students will be required to provide an analysis of a case considered in the course, focusing on the key issues of federal jurisdiction that are presented by that case and indicating whether the student agrees with the way in which those issues were decided by the Court. This assessment task is designed to link to expected learning outcomes 1, 2 and 3. This assessment task is compulsory and failure to complete the task will result in a mark of 0 being awarded for the task.

Weighting: 20%

Word limit: 1,200 words.

Release: Students can select any case considered during the course.

Due date: 5pm Friday 24 September 2021

Estimated return date: 8 October 2021.

Assessment Criteria: The casenotes will be assessed according to the following criteria:

  • Students will be expected to reflect on the selected case, identifying the facts and the decision, and offering observations. Observations should include an evaluation of the Court’s reasoning, and should offer a view on whether the student agrees with the reasoning and outcome.
  • Students will be expected to demonstrate clear communication skills in presenting arguments, ideas and analysis.
  • Students will be expected to organise arguments and ideas in a structured way. Arguments should be clearly expressed.
  • Students must comply with the principles of academic honesty.
  • Students will be expected to use the Australian Guide to Legal Citations, and failure to do so may reflect adversely on the awarded mark.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 80 %
Due Date: 29/10/2021
Return of Assessment: 26/11/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6


Nature of Task: The course is designed to introduce students to federal jurisdiction. The essay question will require students to explore and critically analyse a question on that topic. This assessment task is designed to link to expected learning outcomes 1, 2 and 3. This assessment task is compulsory and failure to complete the task will result in a mark of 0 being awarded for the task.

Weighting: 80%

Word limit: 4,800 words

Release: Students will be able to formulate their own essay question in consultation with the course convenor.

Due date: Friday 5pm 29 October 2021.

Estimated return date: 26 November 2021.

Assessment Criteria: The essays will be assessed according to the following criteria:

  • Students will be expected to critically reflect on relevant course material.
  • Students will be expected to demonstrate strong research and analytical skills. Research should cover relevant and appropriate primary and secondary materials, be wide-ranging, and critically selected and used. There should be appropriate use of authority to support the arguments put forward.
  • Students will be expected to demonstrate clear communication skills in presenting arguments, ideas and analysis.
  • Students will be expected to organise arguments and ideas in a structured way and respond to the question asked. Arguments should be clearly expressed and well-reasoned.
  • Students must comply with the principles of academic honesty.
  • Students will be expected to use the Australian Guide to Legal Citations, and failure to do so may reflect adversely on the awarded mark.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community 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 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 University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.

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

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.

Returning Assignments

Once final results are released on ISIS final assessment papers, if available, will be returned to students by post or on Wattle. Interim assessments, if available, will be returned by post or on Wattle as soon as they are received from the Convenor. Please ensure your ISIS address is current otherwise you may not receive your assessments back and we do not keep copies of marked assessments.

Students must ensure that they keep a copy of their submitted work and readily accessible until results for that course have been released.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. The Course Convener may grant extensions 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).

Prof James Stellios
6125 8140

Research Interests

Prof James Stellios

Robert French
+61 2 6125 3483

Research Interests

Robert French

Prof James Stellios
6125 8140

Research Interests

Prof James Stellios

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