• Class Number 7312
  • Term Code 3360
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • AsPr Ron Levy
  • 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 is designed to give students an opportunity to explore contemporary issues in Australian constitutional law. Issues will be examined both from a practical and theoretical dimension.

The contemporary topics examined in the course may change each year, to reflect constitutional law developments and the interest of participants. Illustrative examples of issues that could be covered at present include:

  • the implied right to vote;
  • recent implied freedom of political communication cases;
  • Pape v Commissioner of Taxation, Williams v Commonwealth and the nature of executive power;
  • section 96 grants;
  • referrals of power and other cooperative schemes;
  • Momcilovic v The Queen;
  • section 109 inconsistency;
  • same-sex marriage;
  • the position of the territories;
  • minority government;
  • constitutional interpretation;
  • proportionality;
  • use of comparative and international law;
  • procedural issues, including agreeing to facts;
  • the role of interveners and amicus curiae; and
  •  constitutional change.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Demonstrate mastery of knowledge and understanding of the range of current issues currently influencing developments in the Australian constitutional law;
  2. Explain, critically analyse and integrate that knowledge and understanding so as to evaluate and anticipate future developments in Australian constitutional law;
  3. Identify, review and critically contribute, using a range of research principles and methods, to scholarly discussion on principles and practices underlying current developments in constitutional law;
  4. Investigate and analyse the interrelationships between recent developments in constitutional law and its influence on broader public law principles;
  5. Generate and critically analyse knowledge of constitutional law principles and demonstrate application to a variety of complex problems in both practical and theoretical contexts; and
  6. Plan, research and critically analyse and evaluate legal scholarship and other material discussing recent developments to produce a professional piece of written work.

Research-Led Teaching

Our study of constitutional law in this course often focuses on law as a tool of better political decision-making: does the law provide the best way for societies to decide public policy matters rationally and resolve social conflict? These themes reflect your lecturer’s areas of research. For more on these topics see the ANU webpage for Associate Professor Ron Levy http://law.anu.edu.au/staff/ron-levy.

Required Resources

All mandatory readings will be available on the course wattle site.


·     The Constitution

·     Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Cth)


·     Cheryl Saunders and Adrienne Stone, The Oxford Handbook of the Australian Constitution (Oxford University Press, 2018)

·     Ron Levy, Hoi Kong, Graeme Orr and Jeff King (eds), The Cambridge Handbook of Deliberative Constitutionalism (Cambridge University Press, 2018)

·     Ron Levy, Ian O'Flynn and Hoi Kong, Deliberative Peace Referendums (Oxford University Press, 2021)

Key Journals:

·     I-CON (International Journal of Constitutional Law)

·     Federal Law Review

·     Public Law

·     Public Law Review

·     Comparative Constitutional Studies

Staff Feedback

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

  • written comments
  • verbal comments
  • feedback to the whole class, to groups, to individuals, focus groups

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.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Partisanship Elections, gerrymandering and constitutional law Week 1: Seminars (2 seminars per week, 1.5h each)
2 Umpires Governors-General and constitutional crises Week 2: Seminars
3 Constitutional change Constitutional referendums and reform Week 3: Seminars
4 Political parties Political representation of women and minorities Week 4: Seminars
5 Money politics Regulating political money and corruption Week 5: Seminars
6 Socio-economic rights Substantive rights in the Constitution Week 6: Seminars
7 Constitution-Making in Divided Societies Can constitution-making address societal (including Indigenous-settler) divisions? Week 7: Seminars
8 Law Reform Paper Workshops commence (sign up on Wattle) Week 8: Workshops (various 1h slots - sign up on Wattle)
9 Law Reform Paper Workshops Week 9: Workshops
10 Law Reform Paper Workshops Week 10: Workshops
11 Law Reform Paper Workshops Week 11: Workshops
12 Law Reform Paper Workshops Week 12: Workshops

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.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Reading Response 30 % * 25/10/2023 1,2,3,4,5
Workshop on Paper-in-progress 10 % * * 1,2,3,4,5,6
Law Reform Essay 60 % 02/11/2023 * 1,2,3,4,5,6

* 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.


Workshop attendance is mandatory only for the week of your own work-in-progress discussion. However, all students are encouraged to attend each week. Workshop attendance will offer valuable insights into expectations for the final essay.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 30 %
Return of Assessment: 25/10/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Reading Response

Details of Task: Choose any two weeks' topics between weeks 1-7. For each topic chosen, write a brief, 1,000-word (max) critical response before the first seminar for that week. No further research will be required; the aim is to think and write about the assigned readings. A how-to guide for this assignment will be posted on Wattle. You must attend seminars during the two weeks you choose to receive a mark for this task; you may be asked questions on your Responses at the seminars. (Students may opt out of questioning by writing the convenor.)

Nature of Task: Compulsory. Failure to submit the task will result in a 0 for this task. You must submit your Reading Response and attend the relevant seminars during your two selected weeks to receive a mark for this task.

Weighting: 30% of final mark (15% x 2)

Due Date: Each Reading Response is due at 5pm on the day before the first seminar in the weeks you have chosen (ie just before we discuss the topic in class).

Submission: Via Reading Responses Forum post on Wattle.

Late Submission: Late submission without an extension is accepted, with penalties. But due to the nature of this task, late submission with or without an extension is discouraged; if you anticipate being unable to submit a Response in a given week on time, it is best to choose a different week.

Word Limit: 1000 words for each chosen topic. Footnotes are not included in the word count; however, footnotes must only include references.

Estimated Return Date: Within two weeks of submission.

Bibliography and Referencing: AGLC4 referencing required. Any source that you rely on or quote must be cited (except class discussions). Please do not include a bibliography/reference list. Please submit only Word files.

Integrity: Please familiarise yourself with plagiarism and AI policies here.

Assessment Criteria: These Reading Responses should primarily reflect thoughtful engagement with readings and lectures discussions. Main marking criteria (equally weighted):

1.   Evidence of understanding of readings;

2.   Response is focused around an original and/or thoughtful idea;

3.   Clarity and care of expression.

Assessment Rubrics: More detailed Rubrics will be available under the ‘Assessment’ folder on the Wattle site for the course.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 10 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6

Workshop on Paper-in-progress

Details of Task: An informal discussion of 5-10 minutes per student, during which you will receive feedback from the Convenor and other students on your developing paper. No set presentation (eg no speech, visuals) is expected; instead, you will be asked to answer some broad questions about your plans for the paper (eg, proposed topic, thesis, and methodology). This task is most closely linked to learning outcome #6 (independent research on the Final Paper), but also potentially implicates every other outcome.

Nature of Task: Compulsory. Failure to submit the task will result in a 0 for this task. You must attend one Workshop in order to present your work-in-progress. Students are also requested to attend the other Workshops as attendees. Workshops sign-ups (on Wattle) will begin two weeks before the start of the semester. Due to the nature of the task, late submission or extension is not permitted.

Weighting: 10%

Due Date: Discuss your work-in-progress at one of the Workshops held during the course. (Students will sign up for Workshop dates on Wattle.)

Late/change of Workshop Times: Students can reschedule Workshops for any reason by signing up to a new time on Wattle.

Estimated Return Date: Same day/week (feedback is provided live in class; marks are provided later by email within the week).

Assessment Criteria: This Workshop is intended solely to help you craft your paper and therefore marking is not strict. Instead of judgement of your work at this stage, you will receive (and give) concrete and constructive advice about the substantive direction of papers. Students almost invariably find Workshops helpful and low-stress. Bona fide efforts to discuss the students own work done to date, and to comment on some other students' work, will receive robust marks (eg 9 or 10/10). By their Workshop date, students must at least have chosen a topic and done the suggested preliminary reading.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 60 %
Due Date: 02/11/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6

Law Reform Essay

Details of Task: This assignment will involve you selecting an area of the law covered in the course, researching the current law and alternative models, and arguing for or against adopting an alternative model or retaining the status quo. A list of topic options will be distributed before classes begin, along with a suggested reading to get you started. Students may also opt to write on a topic of their own choosing, but must check with the convenor about the topic’s suitability. This task relates to all seven of your intended learning outcomes; however, it is particularly relevant to #6 (‘research with some independence to produce [an essay] on a sub-topic of constitutional law relevant to themes covered in the course’) and #7 (communication). An ‘Essay Guide’ document will be available on Wattle. This assignment can serve as the 'Capstone' research essay for your degree.

Nature of Task: Compulsory; non-completion of this task will result in a 0 for this assessment task.

Weighting: 60%

Word Limit: 6000 words (max). Footnotes are not included in the word count; however, footnotes must only include citations.

Release: an 'Essay Guide' document will be made available on Wattle before classes begin.

Due Date: 5pm, Thursday 2 November 2023.

Late Assignments: Late submissions (without an extension) are permitted, but late penalties will apply. 

Estimated Return Date: 30 November 2023, via Turnitin.

Referencing and Bibliography: Use AGLC 4th Edition (the 2018 edition). Reference everything you did not write or think of yourself - ie, anything you quote, and any idea you rely on. Follow all other referencing rules. Please do not include a bibliography/reference list. Please submit only Word files.

Integrity: Please familiarise yourself with plagiarism and AI policies here.

Assessment Criteria: The three general criteria (described in greater detail in the Rubrics) are:

1.   Evidence of broad knowledge of the subject and of any relevant course themes;

2.   Depth of analysis (centered around a single, easily identifiable, well-crafted and persuasive argument);

3.   Clarity and care of expression.

Assessment Rubrics: More detailed Rubrics will be available under the ‘Assessment’ folder on the Wattle site for the course.

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.

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

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.

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).

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