• Offered by ANU Law School
  • ANU College ANU College of Law
  • Classification Transitional
  • Course subject Laws
  • Areas of interest Law, Computer Science, Legal Practice
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Scott Chamberlain
  • Mode of delivery Online
  • Offered in First Semester 2023
    See Future Offerings

The technology of blockchain, smart contracts, and AI is set to revolutionise many industries. It allows for automated, trust-minimised interactions that limit the need for gatekeepers and middlemen. The widespread adoption of the technology could have profound impacts on the law, lawyers, and the justice system since lawyers and governments are key gatekeepers and middlemen in the justice delivery process. This course examines the legal issues underlying the "Lex Automagica" tech stack of blockchain, smart contracts, and AI. It provides an overview of each layer of the technology, how they can interact, and an examination of the many legal and policy issues arising from the implementation of the technology. It will examine the many other uses to which blockchain is or may be applied, including the development of so-called smart contracts. It concludes with an holistic view of the ways blockchains may impact the shape of our legal systems and our societies as more and more social and commercial interactions are forced “on-chain”.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Research, synthesise and analyse the legal principles and issues arising from the use of blockchains, digital assets and smart contract technology.
  2. Synthesise and critically evaluate current and potential laws regulating blockchains, smart contracts and digital assets.
  3. Critically reflect on the way in which these technologies may impact the law, access to justice, and society generally.
  4. Assess current policy, legal and regulatory frameworks in order to develop proposals which recommend changes required to improve the use and adoption of blockchain, digital assets and smart contracts in legal and regulatory processes.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Blockchain - Selected Legal Issues - Group Presentation (15) [LO 1,2]
  2. Digital Assets - Selected Legal Issues - Group Presentation (15) [LO 1,2]
  3. Smart Contracts - Build, Deploy & Critique a Smart Contract - Group Project (20) [LO 1,2,3]
  4. Major Research Paper - Blockchain Law, Governance & Justice (50) [LO 1,2,3,4]

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.

Workload

  • Classes offered in non-standard sessions will be taught on an intensive base with compulsory contact hours (approximately 26 hours of face to face teaching). The course will also require advanced preparation through assigned readings. In total, it is anticipated that the hours required for completion of this course (class preparation, teaching and completion of assessment) will not exceed 120 hours.
  • Classes offered during semester periods are expected to have three contact hours per week.

Click here for the LLM Masters Program course list

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must be studying a: Master of Laws (MLLM) and have completed or be completing LAWS8586 Law and Legal Institutions; or Juris Doctor (MJD) and have completed or be completing five 1000 or 6100 level LAWS courses; or Graduate Certificate of Law (CLAW) and have completed or be completing LAWS8586 Law and Legal Institutions; or Graduate Certificate of New Technologies Law (CNTL). Students undertaking any ANU graduate program may apply for this course. Enrolments are accepted on a case-by-case basis. Please contact the ANU College of Law for permission code.

Prescribed Texts

Students must rely on the approved Class Summary which will be posted to the Programs and Courses site approximately two weeks prior to the commencement of the course. Alternatively, this information will be published in the Program course list when known.

Preliminary Reading

DE FILIPPI, P. & WRIGHT, A (2019). BLOCKCHAIN AND THE LAW. [S.l.]: HARVARD UNIV PRESS.

WERBACH, K. (2018). The blockchain and the new architecture of trust. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.

WALCH, A (2018) "In Code(rs) We Trust: Software Developers as Fiduciaries in Public Blockchains" (https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3203198)

Assumed Knowledge

General understanding or interest in blockchain/crypto-currencies

Fees

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:
34
Unit value:
6 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.

Units EFTSL
6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2023 $4860
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2023 $6180
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.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
4103 20 Feb 2023 27 Feb 2023 31 Mar 2023 26 May 2023 Online N/A

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