LAWS4108 Foundations of Public Law

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 2UWA (Perth)Face to face
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 the 'standing' of individuals who wish to pursue public law grievances through the various established avenues of redress. The ability to communicate legal conclusions and opinions, as well as critical assessments of the state of public law, is assessed through a collaborative and structured advocacy exercise as well as through tutorial and examination performance.
Students are able to (1) demonstrate an understanding of the (a) fundamental concepts, principles and sources of public law; (b) role and nature of state and commonwealth government institutions and constitutional sources of authority; and (c) mechanisms for bringing governmental branches to account. Students show a developing understanding of the position of the Australian legal and constitutional system within the world legal order and compared and contrasted with other governmental frameworks and alternative government accountability mechanisms; and administrative and constitutional law concepts within their historical, political and social context. They also demonstrate an appreciation of constitutional reform mechanisms, the emergence of formal rights' protection and the evolution of public law practice; (2) recognise and critique the obligations attending public sector operations and the broader social, moral and political dynamics that accompany legal practice in this field; (3) apply principles of public law to a variety of factual situations and explain interrelationships and limitations of particular principles, available courses of action, legal trends and reform possibilities; generate and evaluate alternative responses to public law legal issues; and demonstrate cognitive and creative skills in addressing complex public law issues; (4) use legal research skills in developing a persuasive argument responding to a hypothetical public law problem; and (5) communicate, both orally and in writing, legal conclusions and opinions, evaluations of prospects in hypothetical scenarios, critical assessments of the state of the law, and ideas for reform.
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) tutorial participation; (2) structured advocacy exercise; and (3) examination. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Assistant Professor Tamara Tulich and Associate Professor Sarah Murray
Unit rules
LAWS4101 Foundations of Law and Lawyering,
Contact hours
lectures: 3 hours per week; tutorials: 2 hours per fortnight
Unit Outline
Semester 2_2019 [SEM-2_2019]
  • 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.
  • Books and other material wherever listed may be subject to change. Book lists relating to 'Preliminary reading', 'Recommended reading' and 'Textbooks' are, in most cases, available at the University Co-operative Bookshop (from early January) and appropriate administrative offices for students to consult. Where texts are listed in the unit description above, an asterisk (*) indicates that the book is available in paperback.