LAWS4108 Foundations of Public Law

6 points
(see Timetable)

If this unit does not have an online alternative, then students who are presently unable to enter Western Australia and whose studies would be delayed by an inability to complete this unit, should contact the unit coordinator (details given on this page) to ascertain, on an individual case-by-case basis, if alternate arrangements can be made to support their study in this unit.

Semester 2UWA (Perth)Face to face Predominantly face-to-face. On campus attendance required to complete this unit. May have accompanying resources online.
This unit examines the fundamental principles and concepts of Australian public law (including the role of international law) in historical and political context. It studies the three major institutions of Australian government, the parliament, the executive and the judiciary, at both state and Commonwealth levels, explaining their respective roles, their interrelationships and the constitutional documents which regulate and limit them. The unit explores the history of executive accountability and the rise of a 'fourth branch' of government responsible for integrity control and non-judicial review—focusing particularly in this regard on the role of freedom of information laws and ombudsman review. It also examines constitutional reform and human rights protection. The ability to communicate legal conclusions and opinions, as well as critically appraise the state of public law, is assessed through tutorial and quiz assessments and examination performance.
Students are able to (1) describe fundamental concepts, principles and sources of public law within their historical, political and social context, and explain interrelationships and limitations of particular principles; (2) describe the role of the state and commonwealth government institutions, constitutional sources of authority and government accountability mechanisms; (3) analyse the position of the Australian legal and constitutional system within the world legal order; (4) critically assess the state of the law, ideas for reform and the broader social, moral and political dynamics that accompany legal practice in this field; (5) apply principles of public law to a variety of factual scenarios; (6) evaluate available courses of action and alternative responses to public law legal issues; and (7) develop a clear and persuasive legal argument in writing responding to a hypothetical public law problem.
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) online public law quizzes; (2) tutorial exercise; and (3) examination. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Professor Sarah Murray and Dr Tamara Tulich
Unit rules
LAWS4101 Foundations of Law and Lawyering,
Contact hours
up to 4 hours per week
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.