Studying online

There are now 2 possible online modes for units:

Units with modes Online timetabled and Online flexible are available for any student to self-enrol and study online.

Click on an offering mode for more details.

Unit Overview


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.

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 2UWA (Perth)Face to face

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) tutorial participation; (2) tutorial assignment; and (3) examination. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Professor Sarah Murray
Unit rules
LAWS4101 Foundations of Law and Lawyering,
Contact hours
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.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.