• Class Number 5533
  • Term Code 3360
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • AsPr Ryan Goss
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 24/07/2023
  • Class End Date 27/10/2023
  • Census Date 31/08/2023
  • Last Date to Enrol 31/07/2023
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. The following topics will be covered:

  • the constitutional and legislative framework for Australian public law
  • major concepts and themes in Australian public law, including federalism, separation of powers, constitutionalism, representative democracy, rule of law, liberalism and Indigenous sovereignty
  • the Legislature, including the structure of Australian legislatures, parliamentary supremacy, and express and implied constitutional limitations on legislative power
  • the Executive, including the structure of Executive government, executive power, and liability of the Crown
  • the Judiciary, including the constitutional separation of judicial power, and the administrative law implications of judicial separation
  • constitutional change and evolution, including constitutional amendment.

In conjunction with LAWS6102 Commonwealth Constitutional Law, this course meets the requirements of the Law Admissions Consultative Committee Prescribed Academic Areas of Knowledge for Federal and State Constitutional Law.  

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Review the role of Australia's constitution and the Australian constitutional framework, its social and ethical impacts on society, and critically evaluate the capacity for constitutional change in order to propose reforms which reflect a range of diverse perspectives.
  2. Critically reflect on the core constitutional and foundational concepts and doctrines of Australian public law, including how these concepts and doctrines shape contemporary legal and political disputes.
  3. Critically evaluate, through expert analysis of case law, underlying policy and the judicial method, the relevance of Australian Public Law to current political and legal developments at the national and state/territory levels, and hypothesise about possible reforms.
  4. Select and apply a range of legally specific research principles, methods and tools appropriate to plan and execute a public law research project.
  5. Select and apply a range of approaches to written and oral communication, and apply the professional judgment required to develop and justify creative solutions to complex legal problems and/or issues in the context of advising a client on an Australian public law matter.
  6. Synthesise and evaluate a range of primary and secondary legal sources to solve complex public law problems or issues and predict how unresolved and/or ambiguous questions of public law could be resolved by the courts.

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 are strongly encouraged to visit the High Court, the Parliament, and associated national institutions.

Required Resources

  1. Appleby, Reilly and 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, however, I aim to provide sufficient details online, under each week's heading on Wattle, to guide independent reading; alternative constitutional law textbooks are also available.
  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.
  3. The ANU's Secondary Rules podcast , hosted by A/Prof Goss (convenor of this course) and A/Prof Neoh (convenor of Legal Theory), covered much of the course material in last year's season 1. Students can find episodes 1-13 on their podcast app of choice or at https://secondary-rules.simplecast.com/episodes and students will benefit from listening to the episodes before semester begins, or as we go.

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). Feedback can also be provided to Course Conveners and teachers via the Student Experience of Learning & Teaching (SELT) feedback program. SELT surveys are confidential and also provide the Colleges and ANU Executive with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement.

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

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 ‘...a movement of the Australian people...’:The Uluru Statement, 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 Alexander (2022) & 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

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials / seminars so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage(Hyperlink: https://www.anu.edu.au/students/program-administration/timetabling)

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Ten Weekly Online Reading Quizzes 0 % * * 1,2
Research Essay 45 % 07/09/2023 16/10/2023 1,6
Final Examination 55 % * * 1,2,3,5,6

* 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 Integrity 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 Skills website. 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.


This course will include a final examination. Examinations are conducted on campus during the University's examination period. Students should consult the exam timetable when it has been finalised.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 0 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2

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 optional weekly online quizzes are designed to assist students in staying engaged with classes and readings (especially the flagship readings) throughout the course. The quizzes are worth 0% - they are not for credit - they are formative rather than summative. 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 at least ten online quizzes, one held each week in weeks 2-5, 7-12 (inclusive). It will be each student’s responsibility to choose which weeks they wish to engage with the quiz and 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: Optional. Formative. Worth 0%.

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: 0%. Each week will generate a mark out of 1, but this will not count toward the final grade.

Release Date: The quizzes will take place in each of weeks 2-5, 7-12 (inclusive) -- and may be offered in additional weeks. 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 5pm Sunday following the class.

Due Date: Weekly as per the above.

Estimated Return Date: Every effort will be made to have results available on Wattle immediately or soon after the quiz closing.

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: 45 %
Due Date: 07/09/2023
Return of Assessment: 16/10/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1,6

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: 45%

Release Date: 28 July 2023

Word Limit: 2250 words. The ANU College of Law's Word Length and Excess Word penalties policy can be found here.

Submission Requirement: Your submission must be made in a word processing file format (.doc, .docx). PDF files will not be accepted. Footnotes should be used for the referencing of all sources.

Due Date: 5pm, Thursday 7 September 2023 via Turnitin. Late submissions (without an extension) are permitted, but late penalties will apply. 

Estimated Return Date: 16 October 2023 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: 55 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,5,6

Final Examination

Details of Task: The exam will be a traditional invigilated exam during the end-of-semester exam period. Students will have a choice of questions and significant in-class time will be devoted to exam preparation, technique, format, etc. 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 likely 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 sit this exam will result in a mark of zero for this task.

Weighting: 55%

Time, Date and Duration: The examination will be held during the end-of-semester examination period. Students should consult the ANU Examination Timetable closer to the examination period to confirm the final time, date and duration of the examination.

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. The University’s students are an integral part of that community. The academic integrity principle commits all students to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support, academic integrity, and to uphold this commitment by behaving honestly, responsibly and ethically, and with respect and fairness, in scholarly practice.

The University expects all staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle, the Academic Integrity Rule 2021, the Policy: Student Academic Integrity and Procedure: Student Academic Integrity, and to uphold high standards of academic integrity to ensure the quality and value of our qualifications.

The Academic Integrity Rule 2021 is a legal document that the University uses to promote academic integrity, and manage breaches of the academic integrity principle. The Policy and Procedure support the Rule by outlining overarching principles, responsibilities and processes. The Academic Integrity Rule 2021 commences on 1 December 2021 and applies to courses commencing on or after that date, as well as to research conduct occurring on or after that date. Prior to this, the Academic Misconduct Rule 2015 applies.


The University commits to assisting all students to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. All coursework students must complete the online Academic Integrity Module (Epigeum), and Higher Degree Research (HDR) students are required to complete research integrity training. The Academic Integrity website provides information about services available to assist students with their assignments, examinations and other learning activities, as well as understanding and upholding academic integrity.

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 in a word processing file format (.doc, .docx). Electronic copies in .pdf file format are not acceptable.

Hardcopy Submission


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 granted an extension. Where an extension is granted, the revised due date and submission time will be provided in writing. Importantly, any revised due date is inclusive of weekends and public holidays. Regardless of which day of the week the revised due date falls on, students who submit after that date will be penalised by 5% of the possible marks available for the task per 24-hour period.  

Referencing Requirements

The Academic Skills website has information to assist you with your writing and assessments. The website includes information about Academic Integrity including referencing requirements for different disciplines. There is also information on Plagiarism and different ways to use source material.

Returning Assignments

All marks and feedback will be provided by the return date listed in the class summary. 

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