• Class Number 6526
  • Term Code 3170
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery Online
    • Benjamin Wickham
    • Benjamin Wickham
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 06/09/2021
  • Class End Date 05/11/2021
  • Census Date 01/10/2021
  • Last Date to Enrol 07/09/2021
SELT Survey Results

While the course has a public sector orientation, it is designed to provide non-lawyers with an overview of tort law and to provide law graduates with an up-to-date review of basic principle and critical analysis of recent developments. There is some flexibility in the content. Topics to be covered include:

  • the field of tort law;
  • modern principles of negligence;
  • negligent liability of public authorities, with particular attention to failure to exercise a statutory power, and economic loss;
  • breach of statutory duty;
  • nuisance;
  • misfeasance in public office.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Identify and explain their understanding of the shape of, and trends in, modern tort law;
  2. Explain, critically examine and apply the principles of negligence, especially in their particular application to governments and public authorities;
  3. Identify and critically evaluate the application and operation of the separate torts of nuisance, breach of statutory duty and misfeasance in public office;
  4. Research, explain and critically examine policy issues involved to demonstrate cognitive , technical and creative skills to understand application and appreciation of, the intersection of tort law with other principles and bodies of law; and
  5. Independently plan and execute a research project to demonstrate legal research skills, principles and methodologies to undertake critical analysis and application of issues arising in tort law and public authorities.

Required Resources

There is no prescribed text. A full reading list of cases will be released on Wattle. Students will need the Civil Liability Act 2002 (NSW).

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

Task submission times refer to Canberra time (AEST/AEDT).

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

Word length and excess word penalties: https://law.anu.edu.au/current-students/policies-procedures/word-length-and-excess-word-penalties

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 any announcements relating to the course.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Week 1 commencing 6 September. Podcast lectures will be made available on the following topics: (1) Negligence and duty of care (1 hour) (2) Particular duty issues: mental harm; pure economic loss; omissions (1 hour) (3) Vicarious liability (1 hour) (4) Special position of government and public authorities (2 hours) (5) Statutory reform of civil liability – the Civil Liability Act 2002 (NSW) (2 hours) Live session: Thursday 9 September 5pm-7pm (re-cap; question and answer session; outline of week ahead) Podcast lectures will be made available on topics 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.
2 Week 2 commencing 13 September. Podcast lectures will be made available on the following topics: (1) Breach of duty (1 hour) (2) Occupiers’ duties (1 hour) (3) Special topic – police/prisons/parole boards (2 hours) (4) Special topic – child protection (2 hours) (5) Special topic – immigration detention (2 hours) (6) Special topic – malicious prosecution (1 hour) (7) Special topic – misfeasance in public office (1 hour) Live session: Thursday 16 September 5pm-7pm (re-cap; question and answer session; outline of week ahead – outline of Assessment task 1)
3 Week 3 commencing 20 September. Live session: Thursday 23 September 5pm-7pm Presentation of Assessment Task 1

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Class participation 10 % 23/09/2021 24/09/2021 1, 2, 3, 4
Research Essay 90 % 05/11/2021 23/11/2021 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 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.


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: 10 %
Due Date: 23/09/2021
Return of Assessment: 24/09/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4

Class participation

Format: debate on case study. Given that this is an on-line course, there will be more limited opportunities for class participation. The participation component of the course will be assessed on the basis of a case study presentation which will be made available at the commencement of the course. Preparation of the debate will be undertaken in groups and each member of the group will present one aspect of the group’s case. There can be no extensions for this task.

Assessment criteria:

a) Preparation and understanding of the material

  • Consulting and reading pre-assigned materials in advance of the lectures/seminars
  • linking material between various aspects of the class and different lectures

b) Thinking critically about the material

  • Looking at questions from different angles
  • questioning assumptions
  • use of language

c) Expressing ideas clearly

  • So that other students and the instructor can understand them
  • Use of relevant examples

d) Engaging with other students in the discussion

  • Including encouraging others to speak
  • responding to what others have said
  • being respectful for a range of views and opinions

e) If possible, linking material with your own background and knowledge

  • Which involves relating the material to your own personal and professional experience

Assessment Task 2

Value: 90 %
Due Date: 05/11/2021
Return of Assessment: 23/11/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Research Essay

Format: Essay. Relationship between the Assessment Task and the Course Objectives: A list of essay questions will be released on 23 September 2021. Students are to select one question to answer and will involve both a research and argument component and will require students to consider a number of different aspects of the course.

Due: 5pm, Friday, 5 November 2021. Late submissions without an extension are permitted, although late penalties will apply. 

Return of results: Papers will be marked by 23 November 2021.

Length: 5500 words.

Assessment Criteria:

a)      Understanding of the Issues

  • addresses the question and covers all the important points
  • evidence of close consideration of the question and the research materials drawn on
  • issues raised by the topic are clearly and concisely identified
  • material chosen relates clearly to the topic and is analysed not just summarised or quoted extensively

b)     Communication & Development of Argument

  • clear theme or argument
  • arguments logical and well-organised
  • ideas/paragraphs linked coherently

c)      Argument/Analysis

  • originality of ideas and critical analysis of the material
  • complexity and insight in dealing with theory/ideas
  • suggestions for change where appropriate
  • interdisciplinary perspective where appropriate
  • addressing opposing arguments
  • well-reasoned conclusions

d)     Research

  • research covering primary and secondary materials
  • good organisation of sources and ability to synthesise all the research materials used
  • use of theoretical material where appropriate
  • range of research sources
  • integration of material from research resources into the essay

e)     Presentation, style and referencing

  • good use of structure, section headings and paragraphs
  • clarity and conciseness of expression, interesting and engaging of reader
  • use of appropriate terminology and correct grammar, syntax and spelling
  • full and accurate footnotes together with a bibliography
  • style according to Australian Guide to Legal Citation
  • adherence to word limit

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).

Benjamin Wickham

Research Interests

Ben Wickham is the Senior Executive Deputy Registrar at the High Court of Australia. He has taught at the ANU since 2001 in the areas of torts, administrative law, evidence, litigation and dispute management, Commonwealth constitutional law and lawyers, justice and ethics. He has also taught at the University of Adelaide and Flinders University.

Benjamin Wickham

By Appointment
Benjamin Wickham
+61 2 6125 3483

Research Interests

Benjamin Wickham

By Appointment

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