• Class Number 7475
  • Term Code 3360
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Prof Greg Weeks
  • 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

While the course has a public sector orientation, it is designed to provide non-lawyers with an overview of tort law and to provide law graduates with an up-to-date review of basic principle and critical analysis of recent developments. There is some flexibility in the content. Topics to be covered include:

  • the field of tort law;
  • modern principles of negligence;
  • negligent liability of public authorities, with particular attention to failure to exercise a statutory power, and economic loss;
  • breach of statutory duty;
  • nuisance;
  • misfeasance in public office.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Identify and explain their understanding of the shape of, and trends in, modern tort law;
  2. Explain, critically examine and apply the principles of negligence, especially in their particular application to governments and public authorities;
  3. Identify and critically evaluate the application and operation of the separate torts of nuisance, breach of statutory duty and misfeasance in public office;
  4. Research, explain and critically examine policy issues involved to demonstrate cognitive , technical and creative skills to understand application and appreciation of, the intersection of tort law with other principles and bodies of law; and
  5. Independently plan and execute a research project to demonstrate legal research skills, principles and methodologies to undertake critical analysis and application of issues arising in tort law and public authorities.

Research-Led Teaching

The course will be run as a series of discussion-based seminars with the expectation that you will be actively involved in the learning process. Most importantly, that means having read before class at least the compulsory material set out in this reading guide so that you can be involved in the class discussion. It also means being present in class to engage with the material. Professor Greg Weeks is widely recognised as an expert in administrative law and is an author of many publications in his areas of expertise, including Soft Law and Public Authorities: Remedies and Reform (Hart Publishing, 2016) and (with Janina Boughey and Ellen Rock) Government Liability: Principles and Remedies (LexisNexis Australia, 2019). He is the co-author (with Mark Aronson and Matthew Groves) of the leading Australian judicial review text, Judicial Review of Administrative Action and Government Liability (Thomson Reuters, 7th ed, 2022). 

Required Resources

Reading from a set text and certain specified cases will be set for each seminar.

The compulsory reading is from:

  • Rolph, David et all, Balkin & Davis Law of Torts (LexisNexis, 6th ed, 2021) (B&D)

Other texts containing useful analysis of the government liability aspects of the course will be referred to, including:

  • Boughey, Janina, Ellen Rock and Greg Weeks, Government Liability: Principles and Remedies (LexisNexis, 2019) (BR&W); and
  • Aronson, Mark, Matthew Groves and Greg Weeks, Judicial Review of Administrative Action and Government Liability (Thomson Reuters, 7th ed, 2022) (AG&W)

See also:

Whether you are on campus or studying online, there are a variety of online platforms you will use to participate in your study program. These could include videos for lectures and other instruction, two-way video conferencing for interactive learning, email and other messaging tools for communication, interactive web apps for formative and collaborative activities, print and/or photo/scan for handwritten work and drawings, and home-based assessment.

ANU outlines recommended student system requirements to ensure you are able to participate fully in your learning. Other information is also available about the various Learning Platforms you may use.

Staff Feedback

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

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

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

Task submission times refer to Canberra time (AEST/AEDT).

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: 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 Introduction1. Torts and Public Law
2 1. Torts and Public Law
3 1. Torts and Public Law
4 2. Government Liability in Negligence
5 2. Government Liability in Negligence
6 2. Government Liability in Negligence
7 Essay preparation seminar
8 3. Government Liability under other Torts
9 3. Government Liability under other torts
10 3. Government Liability under other torts
11 4. Limitations to Liability
12 Concluding themes

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 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
Optional Class Participation 10 % * 03/11/2023 1,2,3,4
Mid-Semester Take Home Assignment 40 % 04/09/2023 06/10/2023 1,2,4
Research Essay 60 % 19/10/2023 30/11/2023 1,2,3,4,5

* 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 graduate program. Students are expected to attend all classes.

If circumstances arise which are beyond a student’s control and they are unable to attend a class, the student should contact the Course Convenor in advance (where possible), so that the convenor can adjust their expectations in relation to numbers for that class. If it is not possible to give advance notice, students should send the convenor an email as soon as possible with evidence to support the reason for failure to attend. 


There is no final examination for this course.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 10 %
Return of Assessment: 03/11/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

Optional Class Participation

Details of Task: The seminar (class) participation component is optional and will be based on face-to-face participation in seminars. The task is intended to give you the opportunity to develop your oral skills in the context of discussing specific legal issues.

The classes in this subject will be based on the reading material specified in this document, with which it is expected all participants will be extensively familiar before we meet. Discussions of the material relevant to the topic of the week will be open and everyone will have a chance to contribute.

Nature of Task: Optional and redeemable (ie the grade only counts if it is better than the student's final exam performance). Students who do not choose to sign up for seminar participation will have their mid-semester take home assignment count for 40% of their grade.

Weighting: 10%

Estimated Return Date: 3 November 2023

Assessment Criteria: Marks will be awarded for preparation and thoughtfulness in contributing to the discussion, not merely for frequency or vehemence.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 40 %
Due Date: 04/09/2023
Return of Assessment: 06/10/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,4

Mid-Semester Take Home Assignment

Details of Task: A problem question covering topics 1 and 2. One of the purposes behind this assignment is to get students to address a problem in a disciplined and economical way.

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% (Or 30% where a student has opted to complete the 10% Optional Class Participation task, and it is to their benefit to count their grade for the Optional Class Participation task)

Release: 9am, Friday 1 September 2023

Word Limit: A response of no more than 1,800 words. The ANU College of Law's Word Length and Excess Word penalties policy can be found here.

Submission Requirements: Footnotes should be used for the referencing of all sources. All references should be compliant with the current edition of the Australian Guide to Legal Citation. Your submission must be made in a word processing file format (.doc, .docx). PDF files will not be accepted.

Due Date: 5pm, Monday 4 September 2023. If you experience extenuating circumstances and cannot attempt the assessment on the due date and time, you should apply for an extension here. The College will give you one final opportunity to complete the assessment, at the same time one week later. If you have already accessed the assessment, you will not be approved an extension and will need to complete the task by the due date.

Estimated Return Date: 6 October 2023

Assessment Criteria: Further details of the assessment criteria will be made available on Wattle.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 60 %
Due Date: 19/10/2023
Return of Assessment: 30/11/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Research Essay

Details of Task: Each student will submit a research essay on a topic related to this course by 5pm on 19 October 2023. Students may choose one topic from the three essay topics below:

  1. Although it is out of favour in the USA, the Australian High Court should consider developing an action similar to that in Bivens v Six Unknown Federal Narcotics Agents, 403 US 388 (1971). Discuss the benefits and likelihood of such a development.
  2. The existing state of the law relating to government liability for negligent omissions is appropriate given the power of the state. Discuss with consideration of any appropriate cases but refer specifically to at least Home Office v Dorset Yacht Co Ltd [1970] AC 1004, Crimmins v Stevedoring Industry Finance Committee (1999) 200 CLR 1 and Stuart v Kirkland-Veenstra (2009) 237 CLR 215.
  3. The tort of misfeasance in public office is a useful but under-utilised method of obtaining damages for legal errors made by government. Discuss with reference to relevant case law and commentary.

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

Weighting: 60%.

Word Limit: 4,800 words. The ANU College of Law's Word Length and Excess Word penalties policy can be found here.

Submission Requirements: Footnotes should be used for the referencing of all sources. All references should be compliant with the current edition of the Australian Guide to Legal Citation. Your submission must be made in a word processing file format (.doc, .docx). PDF files will not be accepted.

Due Date: 5pm, Thursday 19 October 2023. Late submissions (without an extension) are permitted, but late penalties will apply. 

Estimated Return Date: Official end of semester results release date via Turnitin. 

Assessment Criteria: Further details of the assessment criteria will be made available on Wattle.

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 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).

Prof Greg Weeks

Research Interests

Administrative law, Judicial review of administrative action, private law remedies, public/private divide, Public law, remedies against public authorities, soft law, state liability, Torts.

Prof Greg Weeks

By Appointment

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