• Class Number 5614
  • Term Code 3260
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery Online
    • AsPr Ryan Goss
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 25/07/2022
  • Class End Date 28/10/2022
  • Census Date 31/08/2022
  • Last Date to Enrol 01/08/2022
SELT Survey Results

This course in Australian Public Law reflects the distinctive vision of the ANU JD program in which the study of Australian Public Law is a compulsory part. It also reflects the particular emphasis that the ANU College of Law gives to the study and research of Australian Public Law, which ultimately is reflected in the research of the ANU College of Law and in organisations such as the Centre for International and Public Law. The study of Australian Public Law at a relatively early stage in JD studies will open a pathway into a range of additional law courses and opportunities, and to thinking about opportunities beyond the JD too. To that end, LAWS 6105 has a strong focus on foundational aspects of the discipline of Australian Public Law.

Australian Public Law deals with many aspects of the functioning of the key constitutional institutions of government at the national, state, and territory levels, and how those institutions interact with one another and with the Australian people. The wide-ranging impact of Australian Public Law on the Australian legal system and on Australian  governmental, judicial and social activities means that a basic knowledge of the terminology, institutions, and substance of Australian Public Law is not only worthwhile acquiring in its own right, but is also a necessary part of the knowledge and skills of any law graduate, and of any citizen of a democratic society. This makes Australian Public Law of considerable interest, whether you choose to go into the private practice of law, to work as a government or public lawyer, or are undertaking a law degree because you consider it will be useful in another career. This JD course in Australian Public Law is designed to provide you with an understanding of the core essentials of this area of law, and to provide you with the foundations for further reflection on, and study of, topics in this area.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Define, explain, distinguish and apply the basic concepts and advanced terminology used in Australian Public Law;
  2. Define and distinguish amongst the core constitutional concepts which shape Australian Public Law, and amongst the three branches of government into which our constitutional institutions are organised;
  3. Define, explain and apply the key foundational concepts and doctrines of Australian Public Law and be able to reflect at an advanced level on how those concepts and doctrines shape contemporary legal and political disputes;
  4. Define and contrast the different ways in which the branches of government operate, and reflect on the different ways in which Commonwealth, State, and Territory governments operate;
  5. Recognise and appraise the strengths and weaknesses of how the different branches and levels of government operate, and hypothesise about possible reforms with a specialist’s nuance and against a sophisticated theoretical background;
  6. Explain and demonstrate, through expert analysis of particular cases, the relevance of Australian Public Law to current political and legal developments at the national and state/territory levels;
  7. Select and apply a range of approaches in written communication, and apply the sophisticated and technical critical thinking required to bring about creative solutions to complex legal problems at the most significant and specialised national level; and
  8. Use, interpret and apply a wide range of materials in both on-line and traditional media from scholarly and more news-oriented sources.

Research-Led Teaching

This course provides students with the opportunity to confront key questions of constitutional law, and encourages and requires students to formulate their own view on those questions through careful primary-source and secondary-source research. Ryan Goss is an active researcher in the fields of public law and human rights law.

Field Trips

Students in Canberra are encouraged to visit the High Court, the Parliament, and associated national institutions, as and when possible under government/ANU/health advice.

Required Resources

  1. Gabrielle Appleby, Alexander Reilly and Laura Grenfell, Australian Public Law (Oxford University Press, 3rd ed, 2018). This textbook will be helpful for this course and is available as an e-book from OUP online. If students would prefer not to purchase the textbook, I aim to provide sufficient details online, under each week's heading on Wattle, to guide independent reading.
  2. The Australian Constitution will be central to class discussion. It is available for purchase online and from bookshops; it is reprinted in the back of the prescribed textbook; it is also available for download online via the Federal Register of Legislation, and is in app form for Android and Apple (always rely on the official version if in doubt). You should usually aim to have a single copy of the Constitution that you use throughout the course.

A major focus of this course is working on skills of legal argument and writing. As such many students may find helpful Level Up Your Essays: How to get better grades at university by Dr Inger Mewburn, Katherine Firth, and Shaun Lehmann (NewSouth, March 2021, 160pp).

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • (for Quizzes) through Wattle answers
  • (for Research Assignment) through comments on papers via Turnitin & general feedback on Wattle 
  • (for Exam) through comments on exams & general feedback on Wattle

And throughout the course through class conversations and dialogues.

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.

This is a postgraduate law course; there is weekly reading of cases expected. 

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 ‘...one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth...’: Constitutions, Constitutionalism, & constitutional change 3-hour seminar
2 The stories of Washminster, the Hackett prediction, and the Territory Senators: 2 Federalism, the States & Territories, Representative Government & Responsible Government, and how constitutional conventions work 3-hour seminar
3 Roach (2007) & the story of who gets to vote, and who they get to vote for. 3-hour seminar; Third Hours this week preparing for research essays
4 A-G(WA) v Marquet (2003) & the story of how state constitutions and state parliaments work 3-hour seminar; Third Hours this week preparing for research essays
5 Dignan’s case (1931) & the story of how parliaments can give away some of their legislative powers 3-hour seminar; Third Hours this week preparing for research essays
6 Reading & writing week Third Hour only this week, preparing for research essays
7 Ruddock v Vardarlis (2001) & the story of how kings’ and queens’ ancient powers affect how modern Australian government works 3-hour seminar; Third Hours this week preparing for exam
8 Pape v Commissioner of Taxation (2009) & the story of how executive power has evolved to meet the needs of a modern national government 3-hour seminar; Third Hours this week preparing for exam
9 Williams v Commonwealth (No 1) (2012) & the story of how a father from Toowoomba changed our understanding of how the executive government spends taxpayers’ money 3-hour seminar; Third Hours this week preparing for exam
10 Wilson v Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs (1996) & the story of how the separation of powers works in a Washminster system and why the separation of judicial power may not be quite as simple as it seems. 3-hour seminar; Third Hours this week preparing for exam
11 Chu Kheng Lim (1992) & the story of why the definition of judicial power matters in practice, examined through the prism of detention 3-hour seminar; Third Hours this week preparing for exam
12 Kable v DPP (NSW) (1996) & the story of how our federal arrangements mean that state parliaments are limited in what they can use their state courts for. 3-hour seminar; Third Hours this week wrap-up course and focus on exam

Tutorial Registration

No tutorial registration available, required, or expected. Please read this Class Summary carefully.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Ten Weekly Online Reading Quizzes 10 % * 03/11/2022 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8
Research Essay 40 % 12/09/2022 20/10/2022 1,2,3,4,5,6,7
Final Examination 50 % * 01/12/2022 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8

* 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 program. Students are expected to attend all classes.


The exam will be online during the end of semester exam period. Date, time, details, to be confirmed subject to advice from ANU. Late submission not accepted.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 10 %
Return of Assessment: 03/11/2022
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8

Ten Weekly Online Reading Quizzes

Details of task: This course expects weekly reading of cases and relevant readings, and expects students to keep up to speed with the class materials. The weekly online quizzes are designed to assist students in staying engaged with classes and readings (especially the flagship readings) throughout the course. It is not anticipated that any additional study or revision will be required for a student who is consistently engaged with classes and with the readings (and, especially, with the ‘flagship readings’). There will be ten online quizzes, one held each week in weeks 2-5, 7-12 (inclusive). It will be each student’s responsibility to ensure they begin, and complete, each quiz within the prescribed time periods. A sample of what to expect will be shown to students in class before the first quiz goes live.

Nature of task: Compulsory. Non-completion will lead to a mark of 0/1 for any week in which the quiz is not completed; thus if a student completes none of the quizzes they will receive 0/10 for this assessment item.

Duration: 15 mins. Once you log into the quiz, you will have 15 minutes to complete it. The quiz will finish automatically after 15 minutes and any open attempts will automatically close and be submitted so please allow sufficient time to complete the quiz.

Weighting: 10%. Each quiz is worth 1% of the final mark and each consisting of 3 multiple-choice or short-answer questions (ie each question is worth 0.33%)

Release date: The quizzes will take place in each of weeks 2-5, 7-12 (inclusive). The quizzes will become available on Wattle shortly after the scheduled end time of classes (time to be confirmed in class) and will remain available until 4:59pm Sunday following the class.

Due date: Weekly. All quizzes must be completed by 4:59pm Sundays. Due to the nature of the task, late submission or extension is not permitted.

Estimated return dateEvery effort will be made to have results available on Wattle immediately or soon after the quiz closing (ie after 4:59pm Sundays); in all other cases feedback will be provided the following week in class.

Other requirements: Please note that there are occasionally IT issues that affect the functioning of particular quizzes or of Wattle generally. This will be borne in mind by the Course Convener throughout.

Assessment Criteria:

1. Accurate understanding of the relevant principles

In undertaking all assessment in this course, students must comply with the principles of academic integrity / academic honesty. If you are reading this and you have no idea what is meant by academic integrity / academic honesty, please find out now.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 40 %
Due Date: 12/09/2022
Return of Assessment: 20/10/2022
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7

Research Essay

Details of Task: The essay offers students an opportunity to engage in further research, analysis and critique on a topic covered in this course, thereby contributing to the course’s learning outcomes. Students will be given a choice of questions and will need to answer 1 of the set questions. Students will be expected to undertake independent research, using appropriate primary sources and secondary sources. The goal will be for students to formulate a clear argument, embedded with relevant and authoritative legal sources, that provides a clear answer to their chosen question.

Nature of Task: Compulsory and non-redeemable. Failure to submit this assessment will result in a mark of zero for this assessment task.

Weighting: 40%

Release Date: 12 July 2022

Word Limit: 2250 words. The ANU College of Law's Word Length and Excess Word penalties policy can be found at https://law.anu.edu.au/word-length-and-excess-word-penalties. 

Referencing Requirements: Refer to the current edition of the Australian Guide to Legal Citation.

Due Date: 5 pm, 12 September 2022 via Turnitin. Late submissions (without an extension) are permitted, but late penalties will apply. 

Estimated Return Date: 20 October 2022 via Turnitin.

Other Requirements: In undertaking the writing exercises, students must comply with the principles of academic integrity / academic honesty. If you have no idea what is meant by academic integrity / academic honesty, please find out now.

Assessment Criteria:

1(a) Development of argument and adequacy of response to question.

1(b) Does the essay offer an answer to the question?

2. Persuasiveness of arguments / use of materials.

3. Research of primary legal (case law and legislation) and scholarly secondary sources.

4. Critical evaluation of material.

5. Understanding and discussion of relevant law and principles (case law, Constitution, and public law principles).

6. Structure including logical development of content/material.

7. Expression and written communication including use of legal terminology, spelling etc.

8. Referencing and compliance with AGLC.

In undertaking all assessment in this course, students must comply with the principles of academic integrity / academic honesty. If you are reading this and you have no idea what is meant by academic integrity / academic honesty, please find out now.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 50 %
Return of Assessment: 01/12/2022
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8

Final Examination

Details of Task: The exam will be online during the end-of-semester exam period. Students will have a choice of questions. The whole course is ‘examinable’. A rubric will be provided to students before the exam. As that rubric will make clear, particular attention will be paid, when marking, to students’ thoughtful demonstrated understanding of, and reflection on, the case law and other sources as they apply to the particular question asked. The corollary is this: answers that principally regurgitate slabs of notes will be penalised in the marking. The exam will be open book, students will be working alone without collaborating, and will be subject to the rules of academic integrity and honesty.

Nature of Task: Compulsory and non-redeemable. Failure to submit this assessment will result in a mark of zero for this assessment task.

Weighting: 50%

Exam date and duration: The examination will be released via Wattle. Students should consult the ANU examination timetable once finalised to confirm the date, duration and time of the exam. Any late submissions will not be accepted.

Word Count: 2000 words. You are strongly advised to keep within this range and this is intended very much as a maximum/ceiling, not a minimum. Succinct legal reasoning that is to the point and does not include long sections of cut-and-pasted text is more persuasive and will be rewarded. The ANU College of Law's Word Length and Excess Word penalties policy can be found at https://law.anu.edu.au/word-length-and-excess-word-penalties. 

Estimated return date: Official end of semester results release date.

Assessment Criteria:


  • answering the question asked
  • succinct and accurate identification of the legal issues raised from the questions
  • legal principles stated/explained with accuracy and in appropriate detail, with an emphasis on the best and most authoritative authorities
  • relevant arguments/factors recognised with precision and linked to the legal principles
  • demonstration of the skills of thoughtful legal reasoning in direct response to the question*
  • recognition and evaluation, where appropriate, of legal ambiguities and ‘grey areas’
  • originality/innovation, where appropriate, in approach to issues
  • arguments explained rather than merely asserted
  • clear conclusions answering the question


  • emphasis on the significant issues, and appropriate treatment of less significant issues
  • answer is coherent and structure logical


  • appropriate use of structure consistent with exam conditions
  • clarity and conciseness of expression, consistent with exam conditions
  • use of appropriate terminology and correct grammar, syntax and spelling, consistent with exam conditions

*NB that the Class Summary states that particular attention will be paid, when marking, to students’ thoughtful demonstrated understanding of, and reflection on, the case law and other sources as they apply to the particular question asked.

In undertaking all assessment in this course, students must comply with the principles of academic integrity / academic honesty. If you are reading this and you have no idea what is meant by academic integrity / academic honesty, please find out now.

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

Not required.

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 tests or examinations.
  • Late submission with an extension. To ensure equity for all students, the 5% penalty per working day for late submission of work does not apply if you have been given an extension. Where an extension is granted, the revised due date and submission time is provided in writing. Please note that the revised due date is calculated by including weekends and public holidays. Regardless of which day of the week the revised due date falls on, students who submit after that date are penalised by 5% of the possible marks available for the assessment task per 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.

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

As detailed above, will be returned via Wattle.

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).

AsPr Ryan Goss
+61 2 6125 9879

Research Interests

Constitutional Law, Human Rights Law

AsPr Ryan Goss

By Appointment

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