Teaching organisation4 hours per week for twelve weeks or equivalent.
Unit rationale, description and aim
The Rule of Law, and access to legal advice, are the basis of free, democratic, and just societies which promote personal dignity, thriving communities, and the Common Good. Law graduates working in legal practice, in business, in government, and in the community play an essential role in promoting and upholding the Rule of Law in Australia and across the world. The Bachelor of Laws degree is an accredited degree for admission as a legal practitioner in Australia.
This level four unit contributes to the development of:
- advanced theoretical and technical knowledge in the field of Constitutional Law;
- advanced, cognitive, technical and communication skills and the ability to apply these to complex legal problems in a professional context;
- advanced research and writing skills.
Constitutional Law is concerned with the content and elaboration of the law relating to the Australian Constitution. This unit will be structured upon an understanding of the way in which the Constitution frames the allocation of public power. Pursuant to that theme the unit is divided into four parts. The first relates to federalism. Federalism is concerned with the balance of power established by the Constitution between the Commonwealth and the States. The second relates to the exercise of power. In so doing it considers the most important powers conferred by the Constitution upon the Commonwealth Government and their exercise. The third relates to the separation of power. This part takes a close look at the way in which the Constitution structures the relationships between the Federal Parliament, the Executive Government and the Judiciary. The fourth relates to the limitation of Commonwealth power. In this segment, the express and implied rights contained in the Constitution are described and analysed. In addition to this, State Constitutions will also briefly be considered.
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 Number||Learning Outcome Description|
|LO1||Describe and critically analyse the content of the Australian Constitution.|
|LO2||Describe and practically apply the law of the Constitution as it relates to the core concepts of federalism, parliamentary sovereignty, the separation of powers, and constitutional rights.|
|LO3||Describe and practically apply Constitutional law as it applies to contemporary legal issues and problems.|
|LO4||Critically analyse the strengths and weaknesses of Australia’s constitutional system of government.|
Topics will include:
- An Introduction to Australian Constitutional Law
- Constitutional Interpretation
- The Parliament
- The Process of Characterisation
- The Judiciary
- The Executive
- The Separation of Powers
- Financial and Economic Powers
- External Affairs and Extraterritoriality
- Inconsistency and Government Immunity
- Constitutional Rights and Freedoms
- State Constitutions
This content reflects the academic areas of knowledge required for accreditation, Schedule 1, Legal Profession Admission Rules 2015.
- State constitutions and constitutional systems
- The Commonwealth Constitution and constitutional system
- The constitution and operation of the legislature, executive and judiciary
- The relationship between the different institutions of government and the separation of powers
- The relationship between the different levels of government,
or topics of such breadth and depth as to satisfy the following guidelines:
The topics should include knowledge of the major principles of both the relevant State or Territory Constitution and the Commonwealth Constitution, including the relations between the different Commonwealth and State or Territory laws. A general knowledge of the scope of both State or Territory and Commonwealth Constitutions is required, although the topics will differ in the depth of treatment of specific heads of power, particularly in the Commonwealth sphere.
Learning and teaching strategy and rationale
4 hours per week over 12 weeks or equivalent.
Students should anticipate undertaking 150 hours of study for this unit, including class attendance, readings and assignment preparation.
Assessment strategy and rationale
In order to pass this unit, you are required to attain an overall score of at least 50. You are required to undertake Communication and Engagement, a Research Essay and a Final Examination. The assessment tasks for this unit are designed to assess knowledge, skills and understanding in a specialist area of law required for accreditation.
The assessment tasks for this unit are designed to demonstrate achievement of each of the learning outcomes listed.
Overview of assessments
|Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment Tasks||Weighting||Learning Outcomes|
Communication and Engagement: Students are required to participate in a minimum of 8 out of 12 skills-based tutorials, in recognition that the development of skills in locating, referencing and analysing research materials is assisted by attendance and participation in weekly tutorials. A rubric will be utilised to assess students. Should a student fail to achieve the minimum participation requirements due to illness and/or personal circumstances beyond their control, an alternative assessment may be negotiated with the National Lecturer in Charge
|LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4|
|LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4|
|LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4|
Representative texts and references
Joseph S. and Castan M. Federal Constitutional Law: A Contemporary View, Fifth Edition, Thomson Reuters, 2019.
Bateman, W. Meagher D. Simpson A. and Stellios J. Hanks, Australian Constitutional Law, Materials and Commentary, 11th Edition, Lexis Nexis, 2021.