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LAW5211 Advanced Constitutional Law

Semester 1, 2015 External Toowoomba
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts
School or Department : School of Law and Justice

Contents on this page


Examiner: Jeremy Patrick
Moderator: Anthony Gray


Pre-requisite: (LAW5111 and LAW5112) or LAW5501

Other requisites

Students are required to have access to a personal computer, e-mail capabilities and Internet access to UConnect. Current details of computer requirements can be found at //


Constitutional law is one of the fundamental areas of legal knowledge required in order to meet the requirements for admission as a legal practitioner in Australia. It underpins all of the statute law made in Australia.


The constitutions of Australian governments are the basis by which power may be exercised over the citizens of the nation. Understanding the limits of those powers and the way the various government levels interact is the basis of understanding law making in Australia. Students will become familiar with the Commonwealth and State Constitutions, including the division of powers between different levels of government in Australia's federal system, the settlement of disputes between Federal and State Governments over which of them has power to make laws in particular areas, and the role of the High Court in the interpretation of the Constitution. Limits to law making powers will be considered. Students will be asked to consider to what extent interpretation of the Constitution should evolve as the needs of society change, and to critically reflect on the development of Australian constitutionalism since federation.


On successful completion of this course students should be able to:

  1. explain the structure and purpose of the Commonwealth Constitution
  2. appreciate the division of areas of responsibility between the Federal and State Governments
  3. explain restrictions in the Commonwealth Constitution on the ability of the Federal and State Government to pass laws
  4. apply general policies underlying Constitutional law in Australia in order to evaluate those laws, in particular for the topics considered in this course
  5. research primary and secondary materials (as relevant) while critically reviewing an issue in law relevant to the topics considered in this course
  6. explain the legal principles relevant to the topics considered in this course
  7. apply such legal principles to given fact situations in order to determine the likely outcome to issues raised
  8. demonstrate effective, appropriate and persuasive communication skills.


Description Weighting(%)
1. Introduction to Commonwealth and State constitutions 15.00
2. Commonwealth?s economic powers 20.00
3. Commonwealth?s financial powers 15.00
4. The international dimension 20.00
5. Relationship between Commonwealth and State governments 10.00
6. Introduction to constitutional human rights 20.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

  • Blackshield, T & Williams, G 2014, Australian constitutional law and theory: commentary and materials, 6th edn, Federation Press, Annandale, New South Wales.
  • LEGISLATION: Commonwealth Constitution; Queensland Constitution.

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.
  • Clarke, J, Keyzer, P & Stellios, J 2013, Hanks Australian constitutional law: materials and commentary, 9th edn, LexisNexis Butterworths, Chatswood, New South Wales.
  • Gray, A 2009, Human rights in Australia: looking forward, looking back, VDM Verlag, Germany.
  • Ratnapala, S & Crowe, J 2012, Australian constitutional law: foundations and theory, 3rd edn, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, Victoria.

Student workload requirements

Activity Hours
Assessments 40.00
Directed Study 50.00
Private Study 75.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT 0 0 03 Mar 2015 (see note 1)
ESSAY/MOOT 50 50 22 Apr 2015
2-HOUR EXAMINATION 50 50 End S1 (see note 2)

  1. Students will be provided with some formative assessment within the first month of the course.
  2. The examination date will be available via UConnect when the official examination timetable has been released.

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    If you are an international student in Australia, you are advised to attend all classes at your campus. For all other students, there are no attendance requirements for this course. However, it is the students' responsibility to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To satisfactorily complete an individual assessment item a student must achieve at least 50% of the marks. (Depending upon the requirements in Statement 4 below, students may not have to satisfactorily complete each assessment item to receive a passing grade in this course.)

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    Students should refer to the Assessment Procedure (point 4.2.4)

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must achieve at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for the course.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the aggregate of the weighted marks obtained for each of the summative assessment items in the course.

  6. Examination information:
    This will be an open examination. Candidates may have access to any printed or written material and a calculator during the examination.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    Any Deferred or Supplementary examinations for this course will be held during the next examination period.

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Assessment notes

  1. Referencing in assignments:
    Students studying this course as part of a Juris Doctor must use the Australian Guide to Legal Citation (AGLC) style. Students who are not enrolled in the Juris Doctor may use either Harvard (AGPS) or the Australian Guide to Legal Citation (AGLC) in their assignments to format details of the information sources they have cited in their work. For AGLC style guide enquiries, consult the AGLC manual from the USQ Library's referencing guide at //, or contact the Law librarian. The Harvard (AGPS) style to be used is defined by the USQ Library's referencing guide at //