Constitutional Law

Course code LAWS4001Units 10Level 4000Faculty of Business and LawNewcastle Law School

LLB courses are only available to students enrolled in Bachelor of Laws (LLB); Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and associated combined degree programs.

This course primarily deals with the study of the Australian Constitution (Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 (Imp)). State and Territory Constitutions receive limited attention.

Available in 2015

Callaghan CampusSemester 1
Previously offered in 2014
Objectives1. Demonstrate an understanding of (i) the function of the High Court as the final arbiter of constitutionality in Australia and (ii) the techniques of judicial review as applied in Australia
2. Demonstrate a thorough and contextual knowledge of constitutional law doctrine
3. Identify legal issues, adduce relevant legal principles and rules and apply these to problems (whether hypothetical or real) based on constitutional law
4. Critically assess the adequacy of the Constitution as Australia’s fundamental law and basic instrument of government and the scope for constitutional reform.
5. Conduct high-level research, exploring primary and secondary materials, and provide critical analysis of problems and questions.
6. Prepare and present cogent arguments, orally and in writing, and make productive contributions to class discussions.
ContentThe aim of the course is to impart an understanding of the fundamentals of Australian constitutional law through the study of key judicial decisions on powers and prohibitions in the Commonwealth Constitution. In a one semester course it is neither possible nor desirable to study all aspects of constitutional law. The course is designed to provide a conceptual framework for solving problems about constitutional law by a detailed, analytical treatment of selected topics. Mastery of these should enable students to master all issues arising in constitutional law whether or not they are specifically dealt with in this course. Topics covered in this course include:

1. Fundamental principles of Australian constitutional law: federalism, the separation of powers, responsible government, the distribution of power.
2. Fundamental techniques of Australian constitutional law: constitutional interpretation, characterisation, reading down, severance, the distinction between purposive and non-purposive powers, incidental powers.
3. Inconsistency (s 109).
4. Trade and commerce power (s 51 (i)).
5. External affairs power (s 51 (xxix)).
6. Corporations power (s 51 (xx)).
7. Freedom of interstate commerce (s 92).
8. Commonwealth financial powers: taxation and grants (ss 51 (ii), 55, 96) and excise (s 90).
9. Appropriations.
10. Defence power (s 51 (vi)) and the doctrine in the Communist Party Case.
11. Judicial power and the separation of judicial power.
12. Executive power.
13. Express and implied constitutional rights and freedoms.
14. Intergovernmental immunities.
15. Constitutional change.
Replacing Course(s)na
Industrial Experience0
Assumed KnowledgeLAWS1001A, LAWS1001B, LAWS1002A, LAWS1002B, LAWS2003A, LAWS2003B, LAWS3004A, LAWS3004B, LAWS4011
Modes of DeliveryInternal Mode
Teaching MethodsLecture
Self Directed Learning
Assessment Items
Essays / Written Assignments3,000 word research essay
Examination: Take HomeTake home problem question covering material in weeks 1-3
Examination: FormalOpen book formal examination in the formal examination period
Contact HoursLecture: for 1 hour(s) per Week for Full Term
Seminar: for 2 hour(s) per Week for Full Term
Compulsory Components
Requisite by EnrolmentThis course is only available to students enrolled in the Bachelor of Laws and associated combined degree programs or the Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and associated combined degree programs.
Timetables2015 Course Timetables for LAWS4001