This course primarily deals with the study of the Australian Constitution (Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 (Imp)). State constitutions receive limited attention.
The 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.
Availability2021 Course Timetables
Newcastle City Precinct
- Semester 1 - 2021
On successful completion of the course students will be able to:
1. Demonstrate a capacity to work efficiently and with critical engagement with complex and sophisticated primary constitutional law texts (i.e. constitutional provisions and case law)
2. Demonstrate the capacity to craft coherent and persuasive constitutional law arguments in an adversarial context, recognising limitations of such argumentation;
3. Demonstrate a contextual and applied 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
4. Demonstrate a thorough and contextual knowledge of constitutional law doctrine particularly in its application to real or hypothetical constitutional law problems;
5. Demonstrate a high level of skill in academic and professional legal writing
Topics covered in this course include:
- Fundamental principles of Australian constitutional law: federalism, the separation of powers, responsible government, the distribution of power.
- Fundamental techniques of Australian constitutional law: constitutional interpretation, characterisation, reading down, severance, the distinction between purposive and non-purposive powers, incidental powers.
- Inconsistency (s 109).
- Trade and commerce power (s 51 (i)).
- External affairs power (s 51 (xxix)).
- Corporations power (s 51 (xx)).
- Freedom of interstate trade, commerce and intercourse (s 92).
- Commonwealth financial powers: taxation and grants (ss 51 (ii), 55, 96) and excise (s 90).
- Defence power (s 51 (vi)) and the doctrine in the Communist Party Case.
- Judicial power and the separation of judicial power.
- Executive power.
- Implied freedom of political communication.
- Intergovernmental immunities.
This course is only available to students enrolled in the Bachelor of Laws and associated combined degree programs or Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and associated combined degree programs.
LAWS1010, LAWS1011, LAWS1020, and LAWS1021.
Written Assignment: Case Analysis
Written Assignment: Written (and Oral) Moot Submission
Formal Examination: Open Book Formal Examination
In order to pass this course, each student must complete ALL of the following compulsory requirements:
General Course Requirements:
- Seminar: There is a compulsory attendance requirement in this course. - Attendance at all classes (seminars and workshops) will be monitored and records maintained by the Course Coordinator; In order to satisfy the “Attendance” requirement, students must be present at a minimum of 80% of scheduled classes as spelled out in the course outline, unless they are able to demonstrate that their absence falls within the Adverse Circumstances policy; Unless this requirement is met, despite marks awarded in other assessment items, the student will receive a zero mark and an FF grade for the course.
Newcastle City Precinct
Online 2 hour(s) per Week for Full Term
Weekly Online Lecture for full term.
Face to Face On Campus 2 hour(s) per Week for Full Term
The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.