Available in 2018
Course code



10 units


6000 level

Course handbook


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.

Availability2018 Course Timetables

Newcastle City Precinct

  • Semester 1 - 2018

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate an advanced and integrated 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 an advanced and contextual knowledge of constitutional law doctrine;

3. Using advanced legal skills, identify legal issues, adduce relevant legal principles and rules and apply these to solve problems (whether hypothetical or real) based on constitutional law;

4. Critically and with integrated understanding assess the adequacy of the Constitution as Australia's fundamental law and basic instrument of government and the scope for constitutional reform;

5. Using advanced legal research skills provide critical analysis of and reflection on primary and secondary materials'

6. Prepare and present advanced and integrated arguments, orally and in writing, and make productive contributions to class discussions.


Topics covered in the 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.
  16. State constitutions.


This course is only available to students who are active in the Juris Doctor/ Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice program and have successfully completed LAWS6000, LAWS6001, LAWS6002A&B, LAWS6003A&B and LAWS6004A&B.

Assumed knowledge

LAWS6000, LAWS6001, LAWS6002A, LAWS6002B, LAWS6003A, LAWS6003B, LAWS6004A, LAWS6004B, LAWS6005

Assessment items

Written Assignment: Case Analysis

In Term Test: Mid Semester -take home - problem question assignment

Formal Examination: Open Book Examination

Contact hours

Newcastle City Precinct

Online Activity

Face to Face Off Campus 2 hour(s) per Term Full Term


Face to Face On Campus 2 hour(s) per Week for 12 Weeks