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LAWS5101 Constitutional Law

Credit
6 points
Offering
(see Timetable)
AvailabilityLocationMode
Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face
Content
Building upon the content of LAWS4108 Foundations of Public Law, students engage in a detailed study of Commonwealth Constitution High Court jurisprudence. Introducing constitutional characterisation through the Trade and Commerce Power, they then focus on an analysis of key Commonwealth powers, namely the Corporations, External Affairs, Defence, Finance and Referral powers. Subsequently, students consider the restraints on powers such as Chapter III judicial power, the implied freedom of political communication, intergovernmental immunities and inconsistency of Commonwealth and State laws. Topics draw upon contemporary, historical and political developments and policy background to expound the High Court's role as the constitutional keystone of the Australian federation and its interpretive influence over Commonwealth-State relations. Students are able to (1) demonstrate a sound understanding of constitutional powers and their limits, while appreciating institutional relationships, the impact of constitutional decisions and contemporary constitutional developments; (2) appreciate how constitutional litigation is conducted; (3) develop and apply constitutional methodology and analysis to constitutional problems; (4) locate, digest, critique, synthesise and apply constitutional materials; and (5) confidently discuss constitutional concepts and formulate logical constitutional arguments.
Outcomes
Students are able to (1) demonstrate an understanding of: the fundamental principles and concepts of Australian constitutional law, powers and the relationships between the constitutional institutions of government, the role of federal constitutional power within the legal system as a whole, external affairs power of the Commonwealth in implementing international conventions into domestic law and regulating matters of international concern, and relationship between international law and Australian domestic law; (2) demonstrate an appreciation of contemporary constitutional developments and issues and the impact of the High Courts of Australia (HCA) Constitutional Law decisions upon public policy development and implementation; (3) demonstrate an understanding of how litigation in the HCA is conducted from the perspective of a litigant and counsel representing that litigant; (4) critically analyse a complex Constitutional Law problem; (5) identify, interpret and apply fundamental and relevant constitutional law concepts and constitutional sources in resolving complex constitutional law problems; (6) apply federal constitutional powers and limitations to determine the constitutional validity of hypothetical legislative provisions; (7) understand differences in constitutional judicial methodology in majority and minority resolution of HCA matters; (8) demonstrate an ability to engage in legal research in tracing historical versions of legislation arising in a constitutional case; (9) demonstrate an ability to engage in legal research in locating, digesting and synthesising secondary materials in preparation for the examination essay question; and (10) communicate effectively in discussing constitutional concepts and formulating constitutional arguments.
Assessment
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) tutorial participation; (2) assignment; and (3) examination. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Dr Murray Wesson
Unit rules
Prerequisites:
LAWS4101 Foundations of Law and Lawyering and LAWS4108 Foundations of Public Law
Co-requisites:
Nil.
Incompatibility:
Nil.
Contact hours
lectures: 3 hours per week; tutorials: 2 hours per fortnight
Text

Blackshield, T. and Williams, G. Australian Constitutional Law and Theory: Commentary and Materials, 6th edn: Federation Press 2013 (unabridged version)
 

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