• Class Number 3861
  • Term Code 3430
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • AsPr Matthew Zagor
    • Dr Dominique Dalla-Pozza
    • Dr Eve Lester
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 19/02/2024
  • Class End Date 24/05/2024
  • Census Date 05/04/2024
  • Last Date to Enrol 26/02/2024
    • Dr Clement Chen
SELT Survey Results

This course examines the structure and themes of Australian public law, providing a bridge to all other public law study in the curriculum. In essence, the course examines how public power is structured, distributed, and controlled in Australia. The distinctive roles played by the legislature, the executive and the judiciary receive special attention. Subsidiary themes in the course are protection of individual rights in the Australian legal system, and constitutional change and evolution in Australia. 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 LAWS2202 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. Critically evaluate the reasons why countries adopt written constitutions to regulate the control of government power and the key features of Australia's Constitution, including the capacity for constitutional change, with reference to a range of diverse perspective.
  2. Critically analyse the core features, principles and rules of the Australian constitutional framework covered in the course.
  3. Analyse and predict how unresolved and/or ambiguous questions of public law could be resolved by the courts through an analysis of case law, underlying policy and the judicial method.
  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 critical thinking required to propose solutions to complex legal problems and/or issues in the context of advising a client in an Australian public law matter.
  6. Synthesise and apply a range of domestic secondary legal resources to solve complex public law problems/issues.

Research-Led Teaching

The content of this course is informed by the research interests and expertise of the lecturers. A/Prof Zagor specialises in refugee law, constitutional law, international legal theory and the intersection of law, politics and religion; Dr Dalla-Pozza specialises in national security law, constitutional law, and deliberation; Dr Lester's expertise is in public and international law, taking a socio-legal and critical lens migration and questions of sovereignty; and Dr Chen's research is on freedom of information, privacy, judicial review, and regulation of big data, with a focus on China from a comparative perspective.

Examination Material or equipment

Examinations are held during the University's examination period. Students are to consult the exam timetable when it has been finalised.

Required Resources

Gabrielle Appleby, Megan Davis, Dylan Lino and Alexander Reilly, Australian Public Law (Oxford University Press, 4th ed, 2023)

Other textbooks on public law that may serve as starting points for further reading/research include:

  • Anthony J Connolly, The Foundations of Australian Public Law: State, Power, Accountability (Cambridge University Press, 2017)
  • George Williams, Sean Brennan & Andrew Lynch, Blackshield and Williams’ Australian Constitutional Law & Theory: Commentary & Materials (Federation Press, 7th ed, 2018)
  • Joseph, Sarah & Melissa Castan, Federal Constitutional Law: A Contemporary View (Thomson Reuters, 6th ed, 2024, forthcoming)
  • Peter Hanks, Frances Gordon & Graeme Hill, Constitutional Law in Australia (LexisNexis Butterworths, 4th ed, 2018)
  • Nicholas Aroney, Peter Gerangelos, Sarah Murray and James Stellios, The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia: History, Principle and Interpretation (Cambridge University Press, 2015)
  • George Williams and Rosalind Dixon, The High Court, the Constitution and Australian Politics (Cambridge University Press, 2015)
  • Martin Loughlin, The Foundations of Public Law (Oxford University Press, 2012)
  • Nicole Watson and Heather Douglas (eds), Indigenous Legal Judgments: Bringing Indigenous Voices into Judicial Decision-making (Routledge, 2021)
  • Ron Levy, Hoi Kong, Graeme Orr & Jeff King (eds), The Cambridge Handbook of Deliberative Constitutionalism (Cambridge University Press, 2018)
  • Cheryl Saunders, The Constitution of Australia: A Contextual Analysis (Hart, 2011)
  • Douglas, Barker, Luker and Hunter, Australian Feminist Judgments (Hart, 2014)
  • Cheryl Saunders and Adrienne Stone (eds) The Oxford Handbook of the Australian Constitution (OUP, 2018)
  • Keyzer, Goff and Fisher, Principles of Australian Constitutional Law (LexisNexis, 2016)

Staff Feedback

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

  • written comments
  • verbal comments

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

Extenuating circumstances: https://www.anu.edu.au/students/program-administration/assessments-exams/extenuating-circumstances-application

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 any announcements relating to the course.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

The ANU Academic Integrity website provides information about services available to assist students with their assignments, examinations and other learning activities, as well as providing clear guidance on the responsible and ethical use of AI technologies.

The following resources may also be useful:

• The ANU Library's Libguide is a valuable resource for gaining a comprehensive understanding of AI's role in academia.

• The ANU Academic Skills site provides useful information to ensure that you leverage AI responsibly and effectively.

• The ANU College of Law Academic Integrity and Misconduct site provides content related to legal implications, ethical guidelines, and considerations when dealing with AI in the context of law.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Zagor - Introduction to Australian Public Law I: (1) Constitutionalism, public power, and the clash of sovereignties In line with the University’s recording policy, lectures will be recorded and made available for students on Echo360. However, lecture recordings are only an additional resource and they should not be taken as a substitute for regular attendance. If a recording does fail, there is no guarantee a replacement recording will be provided.
Lecture (2 hr + 1 hr foundation video ) and NO SEMINAR
2 Zagor - Introduction to Australian Public Law II(2) Doctrines, principles and tensions in public law – federalism, representative & responsible government, populism, 'rights' and the rule of law Lecture (2 hr) + Seminar (1.5 hr)
3 Dalla-Pozza - Legislature I: Electoral Rights Lecture (2 hr) + Seminar (1.5 hr)
4 Dalla-Pozza - Legislature II: Legislative Power & State Constitutions Lecture (2 hr) + Seminar (1.5 hr)
5 Dalla-Pozza - Legislature III: a) Delegating Legislative Power to the Executive; b) Changing the Constitution - a 'living instrument'? Lecture (2 hr) + Seminar (1.5 hr)
6 Zagor - Executive I: The Structure of the Executive & the Nature and Content of Executive Power Lecture (2 hr) + NO SEMINAR
7 Zagor - Executive II: Executive Power (Prerogative & Nationhood) Lecture (2 hr) + Seminar (1.5 hr)
8 Zagor - Executive III: Accountability - Spending, Justiciability and Privilege Lecture (2 hr) + Seminar (1.5 hr)
9 Lester - Judiciary I: The Nature & Separation of Judicial Power Lecture (2 hr) + Seminar (1.5 hr)
10 Lester - Judiciary II: Judicial Adjustment of the Separation of Judicial Power;  Lecture (2 hr) + Seminar (1.5 hr)
11 Lester - Judiciary III: the States Lecture (2 hr) + Seminar (1.5 hr)
12 Zagor - Course Review and Exam Prep Lecture (1 hr) + Seminar (1.5 hr)

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 My Timetable.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Online Quiz 0 % * * 1,2,6
Mid-semester Assessment 50 % 08/04/2024 17/05/2024 1,2,3,4,5,6
Final Examination 50 % * * 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.


Please note that there is an in-person exam in this course. Students should consult the ANU examination timetable once finalised to confirm the date, duration and time of the exam.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 0 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,6

Online Quiz

Details of Task: This online quiz is designed to give students feedback on their comprehension of the public law themes introduced in the first two weeks of the course. It will allow students to test their comprehension of these key themes.

Nature of Task: Optional.These public law themes are essential for a foundational understanding of public law. Students will be tested again on these themes (especially on the themes' application to concrete cases) in subsequent assessments.This assessment task is designed to give students an opportunity to receive feedback on their progress in the course.

Weighting: 0%

Release Date: 5pm, Thursday 14 March 2024.

Due Date: The optional online quiz will remain open for attempts throughout the course teaching period.

Estimated return date: Results are available immediately upon completion of quiz.

Assessment Criteria: This task is marked automatically according to accuracy of understanding of course content.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 50 %
Due Date: 08/04/2024
Return of Assessment: 17/05/2024
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6

Mid-semester Assessment

Details of Task: This assessment will require students to relate the course's broad themes (eg, rights, accountability and federalism) to specific legal controversies. The assessment materials will present a legal problem scenario, which students will need to analyse (1) doctrinally (20 marks, approx 1000 words) and (2) thematically (30 marks, approx 1500 words).

  • The PROBLEM QUESTION (doctrinal analysis) will require students to discuss, in standard problem format (ie IRAC), how the laws introduced in Weeks 1-5 apply to the problem scenario.
  • The ESSAY (thematic analysis) will require students to discuss how the course themes introduced in Weeks 1-2 apply to the problem scenario. 'Course themes' will be set out in clear terms in lectures, slides and relevant readings. The essay also offers students an opportunity to engage in further research, analysis and reflection on a topic covered in this course. Students will be expected to undertake independent research, using appropriate primary and secondary resources.

Nature of task: Compulsory and non-redeemable. Any student who does not submit either part of this assessment will receive a 0 for that part.

Value or weighting: 50%

Release date: Monday 4 March (Week 3)

Due date: 5pm, Monday 8 April (the second week of the break) via Turnitin. Late submission (without an extension) is permitted, although late penalties will apply.

Word limit: 2500 words (excluding any footnotes; however, footnotes must only contain citations). The word limit will be strictly applied. The ANU College of Law's Word Length and Excess Word penalties policy can be found here

Estimated return date: 17 May 2024

Assessment Criteria:

PROBLEM QUESTION answers will be marked according to how well they:

  • Identify the relevant issues from the factual situation presented in the question.
  • Identify and accurately explain the applicable legal principles, giving authority.
  • Accurately and concisely apply the legal principles to the factual situation.
  • Avoid irrelevant issues.
  • Provide a well-structured and written answer that responds to the question and organises ideas and arguments in a logical way.
  • Comply with the principles of academic honesty.

ESSAYS will be graded according to how well they:

  • Are structured: There should be a clear central argument in the paper. The whole paper should defend, explore and deepen this central argument.
  • Are clearly presented: Papers should be simply and logically organised. They should use headings and subheadings, appropriate terminology, and correct grammar, syntax and spelling. The style must also be consistent with the AGLC 4th ed.
  • Answer the question asked.
  • Reason persuasively and rigorously, and demonstrate critical and original thinking.
  • Demonstrate sound research and analytical skills. The paper must demonstrate adequate breadth and depth of research, and an ability to apply the research to the question in the construction of key arguments. Primary and secondary materials should be covered.
  • Make accurate and succinct use of relevant legal materials. All arguments must be supported by relevant authorities.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 50 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,5,6

Final Examination

Description of task: The exam will require students to answer one problem question. Students will be required to demonstrate an understanding of the relevant doctrinal legal principles and apply them to a factual scenario presented in the exam. The exam will cover course content from Weeks 6-11. There is no thematic component in this assessment.

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

Timing: Students should consult the ANU examination timetable once finalised to confirm the date, duration and time of the exam.

Duration: Students will need to check the examination timetable once published.

Weighting: 50%

Estimated return date: Official end of semester results release date. 

Assessment Criteria: Exams will be graded according to how well they:

  • Identify the relevant issues from the factual situation presented in the question.
  • Identify and accurately explain the applicable legal principles, giving authority.
  • Accurately and concisely apply the legal principles to the factual situation.
  • Avoid irrelevant issues.
  • Comprise a well-structured and written answer that responds to the question and organises ideas and arguments in a logical way.
  • Comply with the principles of academic honesty.

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. You must ensure that you upload the correct document on the specified submission due date and time. Any document modified after the due date and time will either incur a late penalty or will NOT be accepted. 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

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.

Resubmission of Assignments

Resubmission is not guaranteed. Please ensure that you have reviewed your submission carefully before you submit.

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 Matthew Zagor
+61 2 6125 4911

Research Interests

Human rights, Constitutional Law, Public law, Refugee Law, International Law, Law and Religion, Law and Social Theory, Israel/Palestine

AsPr Matthew Zagor

By Appointment
Dr Dominique Dalla-Pozza
+61 2 6125 0811

Research Interests

Human rights, Constitutional Law, Public law, Refugee Law, International Law, Law and Religion, Law and Social Theory, Israel/Palestine

Dr Dominique Dalla-Pozza

By Appointment
Dr Eve Lester

Research Interests

Dr Eve Lester

By Appointment
Dr Clement Chen

Research Interests

Dr Clement Chen

By Appointment

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