Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

The Australian Constitution does not contain a Bill of Rights like the U.S. Constitution, and there is no international institution with legal authority to compel compliance with international human rights, as there is in Europe. That said, the Australian Constitution does contain some rights, including human rights, and has been from time to time interpreted in ways that create human rights. This unit will provide a detailed analysis of the Australian Constitution’s protection of human rights.

The skills and knowledge gained in this unit would be useful for a human rights practitioner working in any Australian jurisdiction, particularly within the public service, but increasingly within the corporate world where human rights compliance is taken increasingly seriously.

The aim of this unit is to provide you with the knowledge and insights into the protection of human rights annunciated in the Australian Consitution and recent interpretations of the Consitution.

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 the constitutional framework and the evolving judicial interpretations developed to promote human rights protection in Australia (GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9)

LO2 - Apply constitutional human rights principles to challenging situations (GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9)

LO3 - Reflect critically on Australian constitutional human rights protection (GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9)

Graduate attributes

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

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

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

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


Topics will include:

  • The historical context of rights in the Australian Constitution
  • The right to vote
  • Rights associated with Australian birth and citizenship
  • The acquisition of property on just terms
  • Trial by jury
  • Freedom of religion
  • Freedom of political communication
  • Rights arising from the separation of judicial power
  • Human rights advocacy in Australian constitutional litigation
  • Reform of the Constitution for the advancement of human rights

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit comprises 150 hours of study in total. It will be taught over a 12-week semester, with one 2-hour lecture followed by a 1-hour tutorial each week. Other study components might include on-line webinars, podcasts, readings, discussion forums etc. The balance of the hours is comprised of private study. The strategy is to encourage students to actively engage with unit content and their peers; to provide a clear link between lecture content and tutorial practicum to develop an authentic, case- based understanding of human rights law and policy its practical application. The learning and teaching strategy extends from within this unit, to integrate with other units in the course. Within an integrated learning framework, lectures will provide core content relating to the topics identified above and begin a process of active, engaged, exploration, which will be deepened by detailed explanation and further investigation in tutorials. Students are then encouraged to test that evolving understanding by applying it to factual situations, to produce solutions supported by legal authorities and arguments; and to reflect on their learning. Each component is intended to build on knowledge, understanding and skills to progressively scaffold student learning. The online learning platform used in this unit provides multiple preparatory and practice opportunities to guide in-class and out-of-class study. Online learning assistance in the form of learning resources, notices, assessment information (including online submission, marking and return of results/feedback), is student focused, affording greater accessibility and flexibility to the learning experience.

Assessment strategy and rationale

It is proposed that this unit be assessed by three assignments used deliberately as an integral part of the learning process to guide and scaffold learning, as well as to determine learning outcomes. Each assessment will build on and develop the knowledge and skills gained in the previous assessments. The first assessment will be basic content knowledge assessment, such as quizzes, that will be embedded in the learning materials to support directed learning. The second assessment will be a case-study based assessment, where students are asked to identify which rules and principles of IHL may apply to a contemporary conflict or incident. The third assessment will ask students to build on the second assessment by writing a report which applies the identified rules to the conflict/incident, assesses the lawfulness of the conflict/incident according to these rules, and comments on any limitations or problems within these rules. In this way, students will be guided through cumulative assessment and directed feedback to learn how to locate and identify the rules of IHL, to apply them to practical situations and cases, and to reflect critically on their content.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Multiple choice online quiz: Requires students to demonstrate their knowledge of Australian constitutional human rights principles.



GA5, GA8, GA9

Case Study Report No 1: students will be assigned a case or incident that raises questions of Australian constitutional human rights law and policy; identify relevant principles and policies that may apply to the incident; and develop solutions.  


LO1, LO2

GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9

Case Study Report: This assessment requires students to use the sources and laws to produce a report that analyses the lawfulness of an incident and reflects critically on the Australian constitutional human rights law and policy.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9

Representative texts and references

Patrick Keyzer, Principles of Australian Constitutional Law, 5th edition.

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