Credit points


Campus offering

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LAWS104 Foundations of Law and Legal Research AND LAWS107 Introduction to Australian Public Law

Teaching organisation

4 hours per week for twelve weeks or equivalent

Unit rationale, description and aim

This level three elective unit allows students to demonstrate knowledge, skills and understanding in a specialist area of law acquired in Priestly units.

This unit examines the legal framework for protection against discrimination at the state and federal levels in Australia. Students will be introduced to the theoretical underpinnings of anti-discrimination law and to the way the law actually operates in practice.

The unit aims to enable students to understand and explain issues such as:

  1. the nature of discrimination and the kind of conduct that anti-discrimination laws prohibit;
  2. the legislative framework of anti-discrimination law in Australia and its strengths and shortcomings;
  3. the institutions (courts, human rights commissions and administrative bodies) that enforce anti-discrimination law;
  4. the remedies for unlawful discrimination;
  5. defences to allegations of discrimination.

The unit will develop student's skills in legal problem-solving and statutory interpretation in the context of discrimination laws.

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 - Explain the principles of anti-discrimination law (GA5, GA8)

LO2 - Apply the law to different fact scenarios and develop reasoned opinions about the effect of anti-discrimination provisions (GA4, GA6, GA9)

LO3 - Critique domestic law relating to discrimination (GA4, GA5, GA8)

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

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

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


Topics will include: 

  1. What is unlawful discrimination?
  2. What is the problem with discrimination?
  3. The policy goals of Australian anti-discrimination law
  4. How do Commonwealth and State/Territory unlawful discrimination laws address the issue?
  5. What type of conduct are prohibited by laws against unlawful discrimination?
  6. How does unlawful discrimination interface with religious freedom?
  7. What remedies can be sought for unlawful discrimination and how are they enforced?
  8. What are the limits of unlawful discrimination law?
  9. Defences, exceptions and exemptions.
  10. Harassment
  11. Vilification
  12. Victimisation
  13. Procedures for bringing anti-discrimination claims at the state and federal levels
  14. Employment law and discrimination law.
  15. What are the likely future directions of unlawful discrimination law?

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Mode: Lectures, tutorials, electronic consultation, library tasks and presentations or Online lectures and activities.  

Duration: 3 hours per week over 12 weeks or equivalent.  Students are expected to spend 150 hours in total for this unit. 

This level three elective unit allows students to demonstrate knowledge, skills and understanding in a specialist area of law applying knowledge, skills and understanding acquired in Priestley units.  

Our strategy is to encourage students to creatively engage with unit content and to apply prior learnings to new legal problems.  

The unit is designed to be delivered in intensive, weekly or online. We have taken a blended learning approach to provide accessibility and flexibility to our students and a student focused approach that increases depth of learning and engagement through actively utilising LEO.   

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment strategy is designed to assess knowledge, skills and understanding in a specialist area of law, applying knowledge, skills and understanding acquired in Priestley units.  

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 TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Tutorial Presentation  

Description: students will present an understanding of key topics including law, policy and practice in a selection of areas. 


LO1, LO3

GA4, GA5, GA8

Research Assignment  

Description: Major assignment, requires students to demonstrate their ability to research the assigned topic and critically evaluate the relevant laws. Weighting 40% Learning outcomes LO2, LO3 Graduate attributes GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9  


LO2, LO3

GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9

Law Reform Submission  

Description: students will draft a submission regarding reform of anti-discrimination law, which will demonstrate their knowledge of relevant laws and skills in critical evaluation and persuasion.  

 Weighting 50% Learning outcomes LO2, LO3 Graduate attributes GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9  


LO2, LO3

GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9

Representative texts and references

Gaze, Beth, and Belinda Smith. Equality and Discrimination Law in Australia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016)

Reece, N., Rice, S and Allen, D., Australian Anti-Discrimination Law. (2nd ed, Federation Press, 2014)

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