• Offered by School of Regulation and Global Governance
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Course subject RegNet
  • Areas of interest Anthropology, Australian Studies, Australian Indigenous Studies, Law, Policy Studies
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Virginia Marshall
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in Autumn Session 2021
    See Future Offerings

This course is available for in-person and remote (online) learning. Remote (online) and in-person students participate together in the same class.

Indigenous peoples of Australia are the oldest living (surviving) culture in the world. In Australia, the Indigenous call for a ‘Voice’, Treaty and Truth-telling requires us to re-frame and reconstruct institutionalised governance systems, and to re-assert the legitimacy of Indigenous peoples' self-governance. Governance systems have often applied westernised models of ‘good governance’ to Indigenous communities in Australia, and globally. This course investigates the models and effectiveness of Indigenous-led governance systems, or in the Wiradjuri language, Biyam-burru-wa-la-nha: 'the rules of governing'. This course examines how these intersect with non-indigenous governance systems in Australia and in comparative jurisdictions such as Canada and Aotearoa-New Zealand. Looking at case-studies that include first contacts between First Peoples and colonial powers, and contemporary settings such as the Kimberley region, Western Australia and the Murray-Darling Basin in NSW, the course asks how do governance arrangements in particular settings facilitate Indigenous normative practices and community autonomy? How responsive are Indigenous and non-Indigenous governance systems to international norms, principles and laws? 


This interdisciplinary Indigenous-led course draws on Indigenous standpoints, Indigenous ontology and epistemology, critical Indigenous theory, Indigenous rule of laws, comparative law, public policy, law, regulation, domestic and international law. It provides students with practical skills and intellectual insight to understand and develop Indigenous-centred methodologies to: evaluate the relevance and purpose of Indigenous-led governance systems and to facilitate respectful, effective relationships with Indigenous Australia.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Understand concepts related to Indigenous governance systems in Australia and other Commonwealth jurisdictions
  2. Compare and contrast types of governance systems and critically engage with a range of models of Indigenous governance and with the perspectives on governance from within Indigenous communities
  3. Demonstrate ability to synthesise and apply knowledge of indigenous governance from diverse sources
  4. Evaluate Indigenous-led strategies that progress community autonomy and critically assess the potential and pathways for implementing such approaches within other Indigenous communities

Indicative Assessment

  1. Active class participation (10) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  2. Governance Solutions Hack (group work and oral presentations on cutting through existing governance barriers and problems) (10) [LO 1,2,3]
  3. Policy Brief (max 1000 words) (40) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  4. Comparative Case Study (max 2000 words) (40) [LO 2,3,4]

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.


Approximately 60 hours comprising seminars as well as associated preparation, independent study, and assessment time.

Actual time required may vary with individual students.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable.

Prescribed Texts

Marshall, Virginia, Overturning Aqua Nullius: Securing Aboriginal Water Rights (Aboriginal Studies Press, 2017)

Preliminary Reading

Marshall, V. ‘Indigenous ontologies in ‘Caring for Country’: Examining Indigenous Australia’s traditional and revitalised sustainable customs, practices and laws’ in James Spee, Adela J McMurray & Mark D McMillan (eds), The Handbook of Clan and Tribal Perspectives on Social, Economic and Environmental Sustainability (Emerald, forthcoming 2020). 

Te Maire Tau. ‘Matauranga Maori as an epistemology’ in Andrew Sharp & Paul McHugh (eds), Histories, Power & Loss: Uses of the Past – A New Zealand Commentary (BWB, 2001).

John Burrows, ‘Nawayi’ii: The Centre, Respect: Residential Schools, Responsibilities for Past Harms’ in Law’s Indigenous Ethics (University of Toronto Press, 2019).

Moreton-Robinson, A. (ed) Critical Indigenous studies: Engagements in first world locations (University of Arizona Press, 2016).

Corntassel, J. ‘Toward Sustainable Self-Determination: Rethinking the Contemporary Indigenous-Rights Discourse’ (2008) 33 Alternatives pp.105-132.



Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you 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). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
3 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

3.00 0.06250
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2021 $2205
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2021 $2940
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.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Autumn Session

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
3564 05 Apr 2021 16 Apr 2021 16 Apr 2021 16 May 2021 In Person View

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