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  • ACU Term 3Online Unscheduled



Teaching organisation

4 hours per week for twelve weeks or equivalent.

Unit rationale, description and aim

Introduction to Australian Public Law is a first year subject. Together with LAWS104, it is intended to assist students in developing fundamental legal skills and knowledge. This unit introduces students to Australian government institutions, the operation of Australian Public Law, and the principles of political philosophy underlying Australian law and government

In Introduction to Australian Public Law, students continue to develop legal skills in case analysis, legal reasoning and academic research and writing that were introduced in LAWS104. In addition, students are taught to undertake extended critical analysis of legal issues. On completion of this course, students should have a sound introductory knowledge of the law and the practice of government in Australia and a capacity to communicate this understanding clearly and critically.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome DescriptionRelevant Graduate Capabilities
LO1Describe, analyse and critically evaluate Australia’s constitutional heritage and the development of its legal and governmental institutionsGC4, GC5, GC7, GC9
LO2Describe and critically evaluate relevant constitutional provisions and case lawGC4, GC5, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC10
LO3Communicate knowledge and present legal arguments in an appropriate legal formatGC4, GC5, GC7, GC8, GC9


Topics will include: 

  •  The Historical Development of Australian Public Law 
  • Federalism 
  • The Branches of Government 
  • The Separation of Powers 
  • Judicial Review 
  • Human Rights  

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Introduction to Australian Public Law is an introductory subject that, together with LAWS104, is intended to assist students in developing foundational legal skills and knowledge. These foundational skills include the ability to reason and communicate in a formal, and specifically legal, manner.  

In order to consolidate these skills in Introduction to Australian Public Law, we encourage the students to engage in active learning. Students will undertake a number of tasks, such as reading, writing, discussion, or problem solving, that will develop their knowledge of class content and their mastery of legal discourse.  

ACU Online 

This unit uses an active learning approach to support students in the exploration of knowledge essential to the discipline. Students are provided with choice and variety in how they learn. Students are encouraged to contribute to asynchronous weekly discussions. Active learning opportunities provide students with opportunities to practice and apply their learning in situations similar to their future professions. Activities encourage students to bring their own examples to demonstrate understanding, application and engage constructively with their peers. Students receive regular and timely feedback on their learning, which includes information on their progress. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

Assessment is an integral part of the learning process. This unit is assessed by two assignments, performance of seminar tasks, and a final examination. Assessment tasks in this unit are aimed at measuring and developing student’s achievement of both the learning outcomes and graduate attributes noted above. The assessment in this unit may include, but are not limited to: essays, case notes, presentations or examinations. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Engagement Tasks: This assessment requires students to demonstrate their ability to understand the legal principles informing public law, communicate in a legal manner. Tasks may include legal writing, case analysis, group discussion. 



Case Note: This assessment requires students to produce a summary of a case, demonstrating legal skills and the understanding of the legal principles informing public law.


LO2, LO3

Essay: This task requires students to demonstrate their ability to critically analyse legal issues in public law and to communicate in a formal manner. 


LO1, LO2, LO3

Exam: This assessment requires students to demonstrate their critical thinking and problem solving skills with respect to key concepts in Australian Public Law.


LO1, LO2

Representative texts and references

Alexander Reilly, Gabrielle Appleby, Laura Grenfell and Wendy Lacey, Australian Public Law, 2nd ed. (Oxford University Press, 2014). 


Anthony J Conolly, The Foundations of Australian Public Law (Cambridge University Press, 2017). 


Prue Vines, Law and Justice in Australia: Foundations of the Legal System (Oxford University Press, 2013). 


David Clark, Introduction to Australian Public Law (LexisNexis, 2013). 

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