Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



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.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Describe, analyse and critically evaluate Australia’s constitutional heritage and the development of its legal and governmental institutions. (GA4, GA5, GA7, GA9)  

LO2 - Describe and critically evaluate relevant constitutional provisions and case law. (GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10) 

LO3 - Communicate knowledge and present legal arguments in an appropriate legal format. (GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9) 

LO4 - Identify, locate and evaluate relevant primary sources of law. (GA2, GA4, GA5, GA6)

Graduate attributes

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


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.  

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 OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Seminar Tasks: This assessment requires students to demonstrate their ability to communicate in a legal manner. Tasks may include legal writing, case analysis, group discussion. 



GA7, GA9, GA10 

Case Note: This assessment requires students to produce a summary of a case, demonstrating legal skills.  


LO2, LO3 

GA5, GA9 

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


LO1, LO2, LO3 

GA4, GA5, GA7, GA9  

Exam: This assessment requires students to demonstrate their critical thinking skills, knowledge of Australian Public Law, and their ability to analyse legal issues. 


LO1, LO2 

GA4, GA5,  

GA7, GA9  

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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