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LAW8701 Constitutional Human Rights

Semester 2, 2021 Online
Short Description: Constitutional Human Rights
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts
School or Department : School of Law and Justice
Student contribution band : Band 4
ASCED code : 090903 - Constitutional Law
Grading basis : Graded
Version produced : 21 July 2021


Examiner: Chris Piggott-McKellar


Pre-requisite: (LAW5111 and LAW5112) or students must be enrolled in one of the following programs LLBH or LLMC

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


Australian legislation is increasingly abrogating fundamental human rights. This course catalogues this trend, before offering a way in which the courts might protect human rights through the use of Chapter III (of the Constitution) notions of institutional integrity and judicial independence. Practically, these rights are extremely important for individuals, and an appreciation of the extent to which they are being eroded, together with possible legal solutions, is considered valuable.


This course will consider the constitutional protection of fundamental human rights such as presumption of innocence, right to silence, the right to natural justice and an open court, fairness in sentencing, and property rights. It will consider the extent to which such rights have increasingly been abrogated by Australian statutes, in the context of a comparison with equivalent legal regimes elsewhere.


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

  1. understand the extent to which Commonwealth and State legislation continues to abrogate fundamental common law rights, particularly in the area of criminal due process;
  2. understand traditional ways in which the common law protects such rights, and the limited way in which the Australian Constitution expressly protects such rights;
  3. understand the High Court's interpretation of Chapter III of the Constitution, and its possible implications for rights protection;
  4. understand the existing case law on existing fundamental freedoms such as presumption of innocence, right to silence, right to open courts, right to confront witnesses/natural justice, fair sentencing, and property rights.


Description Weighting(%)
1. Introduction to the Australian Constitution and human rights 20.00
2. Presumption of innocence 15.00
3. The right to silence/privilege against self-incrimination 15.00
4. Natural justice and the right to confrontation 15.00
5. Open courts 15.00
6. Mandatory sentencing and forfeiture of property 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. (

Gray, A 2016, Criminal due process and chapter III of the Australian constitution, Federation Press, Annandale, New South Wales.

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.
Williams, G & Hume, D 2013, Human Rights under the Australian Constitution, 2nd edn, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, Victoria.

Student workload expectations

Activity Hours
Assessments 100.00
Lectures 16.00
Private Study 49.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
RESEARCH ESSAY 1 50 50 03 Sep 2021
RESEARCH ESSAY 2 50 50 15 Oct 2021

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    Online: 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.

    On-campus: It is the students' responsibility to attend and participate appropriately in all activities (such as lectures, tutorials, laboratories and practical work) scheduled for them, and 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:
    There is no examination in this course.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    Deferred and Supplementary examinations will be held in accordance with the Assessment Procedure

  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. Students studying this course must use the Australian Guide to Legal Citation (AGLC) in their assessment 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.

Date printed 21 July 2021