• Offered by ANU College of Law
  • ANU College ANU College of Law
  • Course subject Laws
  • Areas of interest Law
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Mode of delivery Online or In Person

This course is intended to increase awareness of the importance of judicial reasoning, both as authority for the law and as a social artefact situated in time and place. The course aims to increase engagement with the techniques and conventions surrounding judicial reasoning, and to invite a critical engagement with the consequences implicit in adopting those conventions. The final assessment in the course will be for students to produce their own judgments, in a case of their choosing.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Compare, contrast and reflect on the difference/s between the techniques of judicial reasoning and other forms of legal and non-legal reasoning;
  2. Analyse and reflect on the relevance of social context to decision-making and judgment writing;
  3. Develop insight into the diverse perspectives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples (and other marginalised communities) on laws and society;
  4. Research, examine, interpret and communicate relevant legal principles in the form of exposition;
  5. Select and apply a range of approaches to correctly apply the law to the facts;
  6. Produce a judgment that demonstrates knowledge and skills in legal research and the current conventions and style of judgment-writing;
  7. Develop group work skills by applying a range of strategies in providing constructive feedback in a class context.

Other Information

While in no way exhaustive, an indicative list of topics includes:

  • the nature and practice of judicial reasoning (eg forms of judicial reasoning: inductive and deductive [rules -based] reasoning, analogical ( case – based) reasoning , judicial reasoning and the doctrine of precedent (including the legitimate techniques of ‘avoiding’ precedents), probability reasoning, common sense reasoning and bottom up and top down reasoning : all of which are directed at reaching the ‘right’ decision)
  • Similarities and dissimilarities between judicial reasoning and other forms of reasoning: legal reasoning, logical reasoning, scientific reasoning and philosophical reasoning, all which are driven by different outcomes. 
  • Fact finding as the cornerstone of judicial decision making, including an analysis of the multi-faceted nature of judicial fact finding and the different methods of fact finding: the “story model” of fact finding, the “no plausible alternative story” model), including critical evaluation and credibility of witnesses (and the relevance of inherent bias in that process)
  • The form and conventions of judicial reasoning (including the discrete issues surrounding oral decision-making; the level and primary practice area of the court; individual and joint-judgment production; majority vs dissent reasoning; norms of grammar and changes in perception of the audience of a decision; comparison between Australian judgment production and international models; contemporary judicial education best-practice models)
  • the limits, critiques and opportunities of judicial reasoning (including cognitive and social biases; historical, social and political context; theory-informed critique and praxis)

Key questions to inform class discussion include:  Why do judges matter and who are judges writing for? Which voices are heard, or silenced, in the legal judgment that is written/ created? Can disenfranchised and silenced voices be heard, and agency restored, through judgment?

Indicative Assessment

  1. Class Participation (10) [LO 1,2,3,7]
  2. Judgment Proposal (10) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
  3. Draft judgment (20) [LO 1,2,3,4,5,6]
  4. Commentary (10) [LO 1,2,3,4,5,6,7]
  5. Final judgment (40) [LO 4,5,6]
  6. Oral Reflection (10) [LO 1,2,3]

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.


  • Classes offered in non-standard sessions will be taught on an intensive basis with compulsory contact hours (approximately 36 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. Students are generally expected to devote at least 10 hours overall per week to this course.

Click here for the LLB Program course list

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must be studying a: - Bachelor of Laws (ALLB) and have completed or be completing five 1000 level LAWS courses and have completed LAWS2202 Commonwealth Constitutional Law; or - Juris Doctor (MJD) and have completed or be completing five 1000 or 6100 level LAWS courses and have completed LAWS2202/LAWS6202 Commonwealth Constitutional Law.

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. 

Alternately, this information will be published in the Program course list when known.

Assumed Knowledge

How to read a judgment; a critical and inquiring mind; a willingness to attempt a new skill and to challenge your own ideas about what it means to reason ‘as a judge’.


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:
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.

6.00 0.12500
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.

There are no current offerings for this course.

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