LAW 3505 - Aboriginal Peoples and the Law

North Terrace Campus - Summer - 2018

A critical analysis of the legal and historical relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples. The course will consider topics chosen from: the theory, policy and law relating to Aboriginal sovereignty, self-government, native title, cultural heritage protection, customary law and identity and constitutional recognition. It will look at Aboriginal challenges to government law and policy, including reparations for the stolen generations and claims of genocide. The course will analyse these topics predominantly through a series of major case studies, and studies of particular legislative schemes.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code LAW 3505
    Course Aboriginal Peoples and the Law
    Coordinating Unit Adelaide Law School
    Term Summer
    Level Undergraduate Law (LLB)
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Intensive
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites LAW 1501
    Incompatible LAW 2026
    Course Description A critical analysis of the legal and historical relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples. The course will consider topics chosen from: the theory, policy and law relating to Aboriginal sovereignty, self-government, native title, cultural heritage protection, customary law and identity and constitutional recognition. It will look at Aboriginal challenges to government law and policy, including reparations for the stolen generations and claims of genocide. The course will analyse these topics predominantly through a series of major case studies, and studies of particular legislative schemes.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Associate Professor Laura Grenfell

    Other staff teaching this course are: Kellie Toole and Michelle Lim.
    Dr Grenfell can be contacted via email at or by phone at 8313 5777.
    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

    The course includes a compulsory three day trip to Camp Coorong and four intensive days in the classroom (see below for dates).
  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes

    On successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

    (1) Reflect critically on Aboriginal perspectives on white law and its impact on Aboriginal culture and law;

    (2) Analyse and evaluate primary and secondary materials with a critical understanding of how the law impacts on Aboriginal peoples at structural and individual levels;

    (3) Recognise and assess the effect of multiple barriers facing Aboriginal peoples in accessing and engaging with white law;

    (4) Communicate clearly and concisely in written form; and

    (5) Communicate orally about legal principles and institutions and their impact on Aboriginal peoples.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    1, 2, 3
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    1, 2, 3
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    1, 4, 5
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    1, 2, 3, 4, 5
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • Able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    1, 2, 3, 4, 5
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
    1, 2, 3, 4, 5
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    There is no required textbook for this course but please see recommended resources.
    Recommended Resources

    A useful textbook for this course is: Heather McRae, Garth Nettheim and Luke McNamara, Indigenous Legal Issues: Commentary and Materials (4th ed 2009). Note that this is not a required textbook but it could be of assistance to you.

    Other recommended resources are:

    Alex Reilly, Anne Curthoys and Ann Genovese, Rights and Redemption: History, Law and Indigenous People (2012, UNSW Press).

    Shaun Berg (ed), Coming to Terms: Aboriginal Title in South Australia (2010); 

    Elliott Johnston, Martin Hinton and Daryle Rigney (eds), Indigenous Australians and the Law (2nd ed, 2008)
    Sarah Maddison and Morgan Brigg (eds), Unsettling the settler state: creativity and resistance in indigenous settler-state governance (2010)

    Henry Reynolds, The Law of the Land (Penguin, 1992)

    Christopher Alcantara, Negotiating the Deal: Comprehensive Land Claims Agreements in Canada (University of Toronto Press, 2013).

    Sean Brennan, Larissa Behrendt, Lisa Strelein and George Williams,Treaty (Federation Press, 2005).
    Sean Brennan, Megan Davis, Brendan Edgeworth and Leon Terrill (eds), Native Title from Mabo to Akiba: A Vehicle for Change and Empowerment? (Federation Press 2015)

    Indigenous Law Bulletin (2015) Vol 9/18 – see the whole edition on the constitutional models being debated.

    The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Deaths in Custody Reports Vols 1-3
    Online Learning

    The course is supported by the Aboriginal Peoples and the Law MyUni website. The website contains links to the following resources:

    Course information.

    Course materials – such as items of assessment, lecture PowerPoint slides, and other course materials which will be posted from time to time.

    Lectures – audio streaming of lectures and video streaming of lecture slides will be posted (where available) under the Course Materials link as soon as possible after each lecture.

    Discussion Board – This is available for students to discuss the course among themselves and to communicate with academic staff in relation to administrative or substantive questions about the course.

    My Grades – where students’ grades will be entered for each assignment.

    MyUni will also be used to post announcements, and assignment tasks. Students are expected to check MyUni regularly to keep up to date with these materials and additional learning resources throughout the course.

    Students should also regularly check their email.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    This course will be taught intensively.

    It will begin with a compulsory two-night stay at Camp Coorong from Wednesday 31st January- Friday 2nd February 2018. Camp Coorong is the cultural centre of the Ngarrindjeri nation, which is located near Meningie on the Coorong. At Camp Coorong, Ngarrindjeri elders will offer their perspectives on Aboriginal engagement with Western law and also their own law and custom. This is an immersion experience which will involve formal and informal sessions as well as time for personal and small-group reflection. (It is estimated that Camp Coorong will cost approx $250 per student to cover transport to and from Camp Coorong, 2 nights of accommation and meals.  The exact cost will be notified closer to the course commencement and students will be asked to pay via an online shop.) 

    Before Camp Coorong there will be a one-hour orientation session on Monday the 29th at 1pm (venue TBC). Following the three day trip to Camp Coorong there will be four intensive teaching days in the Law School (Friday 9th February, Monday the 12th February, Tuesday 13th February and Wednesday the 14th February 2018 ). Each intensive teaching day will have six contact hours. These contact hours will include some short lectures including guest lectures, but predominantly involve large and small group discussion and activities in which students will be required to research, discuss, debate and defend their analysis of the relevant material set in the course readings in addition to the Ngarrindjeri perspectives. It is absolutely critical that students have undertaken the reading before coming to class.

    The course will also include a 1 hour Research Seminar to assist students with the research, structuring and drafting of their essays.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    Contact time: The course will be made up of a three day trip to Camp Coorong followed by four days each with six hours of contact. The days will commence at 10 am and conclude at 5 pm.  An Orientation briefing will be held before Camp Coorong with details about the experience – Monday the 29th January 2018 at 1pm (L2, Ligertwood). This amounts to 36 hours of formal class time during the summer semester.

    Preparation time: In addition to attending Camp Coorong and formal classes it is anticipated that students will do substantial independent work to prepare for the Camp and classes and to complete the course assignments. The University expects full time students (those undertaking 12 units per semester) to devote a total of 48 hours per week to their studies.
    Learning Activities Summary
    Orientation briefing - Monday the 29th January 1-2pm

    Class One - Wednesday the 31st January Camp Coorong

    Class Two Thursday the 1st February Camp Coorong

    Class Three Friday the 2nd February Camp Coorong/Raukkan

    Class Four Friday the 9th February - Recognition

    Class Five Monday the 12th February - Criminal Law

    Class Six Tuesday the 13th February - First Nations Law and the Environment

    Class Seven Wednesday the 14th February - Human Rights and Research Discussion

  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Students must attend the three day trip to Camp Coorong (8-10 February 2017) to be eligible to pass the course. If a student has not attended Camp Coorong and not participated in the planned sessions at Camp Coorong, they will be asked to withdraw from the course (before the census date).
    Assessment Task Task Type Weighting Due Length Redeemable Learning Outcome
    Class Participation Individual


    N/A N/A No 1, 3, 5
    Personal Reflection on Aboriginal Legal Perspectives Individual 10% Tuesday 6th February 9am 1000 words No 1, 2, 3, 4
    Small Group Reflection on two of four themes (Land/Criminal Law/Sovereignty and Constitution/Human Rights Group 10% Tuesday 6th February 9am 1000 words Yes 1, 2, 3, 4
    Research essay Individual 70-80% Friday 9th March at 2pm 4000 words (excluding footnote citations and bibliography) No 1, 2, 3, 4
    Assessment Detail

    Please Note: Students must attend the three day trip to Camp Coorong (Wednesday 31st January-Friday 2nd February 2018) to be eligible to pass the course. This is a hurdle requirment. If a student has not attended Camp Coorong and not participated in the planned sessions at Camp Coorong, they will be asked to withdraw from the course (before the census date).

    Assessment Detail:

    1. Class Participation (10%)
    Students must participate in discussion at Camp Coorong and in the classroom. It is not expected that all comments are ‘correct’, but participation must be based on your reflective reading of the course materials and your reflective engagement with Aboriginal elders. Participation includes attendance of the sessions at Camp Coorong, and of at least 3 out of 4 intensive days at the Law School.

    2. Personal Reflection on Aboriginal Legal Perspectives (10%)
    By 9am Monday the 5th February 2018, students must submit a 1000 word personal reflection on Aboriginal legal perspectives following their experience at Camp Coorong. Guiding questions will be provided at the Camp. The reflection can be written through dot points but it must include legal analysis – it cannot merely describe or transcribe what was said at Camp Coorong. Students will be given time at Camp Coorong to begin drafting these reflections. No footnoting or referencing is required.

    3. Small group Reflection on one of 4 themes. (10%, redeemable)
    By 9am Monday 5th February 2018, students must submit a 1000 word small group reflection on one or two substantive themes. The reflection can be written through dot points but it must include legal analysis – it cannot merely describe or transcribe what was said during their Camp Coorong trip. At Camp Coorong students will form small groups of 2-3  and will be given time at Camp Coorong to begin drafting these small group reflections. Guiding questions will be provided at the Camp. No footnoting or referencing is required. For this part of the assessment to be redeemable, students must submit a reflection (no submission will lead to no mark for this part of the assessment).

    4. Research Essay (70-80%)
    Students must submit a 4,000 word essay by Friday the 9th March at 2pm. Students must choose from a set list of questions (connected to the four themes) provided during the course. Essays must be adequately referenced and conform to the Australian Guide to Legal Citation, they must not have been previously submitted for any other course and they must have a bibliography appropriate for the topic. Students will be able to speak to the course coordinator about their research essays .

    Assignments must be handed in electronically by Turnitin. Students must ensure their student number appears on all written work submitted for assessment.

    Electronic copies of the assignment (as submitted) must be retained by students.

    Assignments will be returned electronically.

    It is also advisable to keep written work after it has been assessed and returned.

    Extensions are granted at the discretion of Course Coordinator. Extensions beyond the due date are usually only granted in the case of significant unforeseen incapacity.

    Students who wish to apply, should apply for an extension by completing the online Application for Extension form (found at

    The application must give details of the extent and length of the student’s incapacity, and the length of extension that is requested. The Course Coordinator will email students with the outcome of their request as soon as possible after it is received. If an extension is granted, it is only provisional until formal evidence of the incapacity is received. Students must attach this evidence as well as the email granting the extension to the assignment when it is submitted. The evidence submitted must be consistent with details provided in the email requesting the extension. If the details of the request for an extension, and the medical or other evidence verifying the reason for the extension are not consistent in all respects, the extension may be nullified, and the Course Coordinator may in their discretion decide not to accept the assignment, or impose a penalty for late submission.

    You can apply for an extension at any time before the due date for an assignment. However, you are strongly advised to make your application as soon as the need becomes apparent. Delay in making an application obviously involves the risk that there will be insufficient time to complete the assignment (with consequential loss of marks) if the application for extension is refused.

    If an application is made within two days of the due date, or after the due date has expired, it will not be granted unless the Course Co-ordinator is satisfied:

    - That the circumstances warrant an extension; and
    - There was no unreasonable delay in making the application.

    If your request for an extension is rejected, you can appeal via the Student Grievance Resolution Process.

    Penalties for Late Submission
    5% of the total mark possible will be deducted for every 24 hours or part thereof that it is late, including each day on a weekend. For example, an essay that is submitted after the due date and time but within the first 24 hour period, and that has been graded at 63%, will have 5% deducted, for a final grade of 58%. An essay that is more than 24 hours late will lose 10%, etc.

    Penalties for Exceeding Stipulated Word Length
    Assignments which exceed the allocated length (word length or page limit) will be subject to a penalty of 5% of total marks possible per 100 words or part thereof (ie with a word limit of 3,000, an essay graded 63% will have 5% deducted if it is 3001 words long, for a final grade of 58%, 10% if it is 3101 words long, etc). Words are calculated including all footnotes and headings within the text but excluding cover page information and bibliography. Quotations and all referencing information are included in the word count.Assignments must be handed in electronically by Turnitin. Students must ensure their student number appears on all written work submitted for assessment.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Courses for which a result of conceded pass has been obtained may not be presented towards the degree requirements for the Bachelor of Laws or the Honours Degree of Bachelor of Laws programs, or any postgraduate law program, nor to satisfy prerequisite requirements within any law course.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

    Finality of Assessment Grades

    Students are advised that Course Coordinators will not enter into negotiations of any kind with any student regarding changes to their grades. It is irrelevant, in any given circumstance, that only a minimal number of additional marks are required to inflate a student’s grade for any individual assessment item or course as a whole. Pursuant to the University’s Assessment for Coursework Programs Policyand the Adelaide Law School Assessment Policies and Procedures, grades may only be varied through the appropriate channels for academic review (such as an official re-mark).

    In accordance with the University’s Assessment for Coursework Programs Policy, course coordinators ‘ensure that appropriate marking guidelines and cross-marking moderation processes across markers are in place’ in each course. Procedures adopted by Adelaide Law School to ensure consistency of marking in courses with multiple markers include:
    • assurance of the qualifications of markers, and their knowledge of the content covered in each course;
    • detailed marking guidelines and assessment rubrics to assist in the marking of items of assessment;
    • sharing of example marked assessments at various grade bands across markers;
    • reviewing of selected marked assessments from each marker by the course coordinator;
    • comparison of the marks and their distribution across markers;
    • automatic double-marking of all interim assessment receiving a fail grade, and of final assessments where a student’s overall result is a fail grade;
    • the availability of re-marking of assessments in accordance with Adelaide Law School’s Assessment Policies and Procedures.

    Approval of Results by Board of Examiners
    Students are reminded that all assessment results are subject to approval (and possible moderation/change) by the Law School’s Board of Examiners. Assessment results at the University are not scaled. Under the Assessment for Coursework Programs Policy, students are assessed ‘by reference to their performance against pre-determined criteria and standards … and not by ranking against the performance of the student cohort in the course’. However, under that same policy, the Board of Examiners (as the relevant Assessment Review Committee for courses at Adelaide Law School) is required to ‘ensure comparability of standards and consistency’ in assessment. On occasions, the Board of Examiners will form the view that some moderation is required to ensure the comparability of standards and consistency across courses and years, and accordingly provide fairness to all law students. All assessment results are therefore subject to approval (and possible change) until confirmed by the Board of Examiners and posted on Access Adelaide at the end of each semester.
  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
    The University Writing Centre provides academic learning and language development services and resources for local, international, undergraduate and postgraduate coursework students enrolled at the University of Adelaide.

    The centre offers practical advice and strategies for students to master reading, writing, note-taking, time management, oral presentation skills, referencing techniques and exam preparation for success at university through seminars, workshops and individual consultations.

    Lex Salus Program
    Lex Salus (law and wellbeing) is an initiative of the Adelaide Law School aimed at destigmatising mental health issues; promoting physical, mental and emotional wellness; building a strong community of staff and students; and celebrating diversity within the school. It also seeks to promote wellness within the legal profession, through the involvement of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of South Australia, the Honourable Chris Kourakis, as the official Patron of the program.

    Students can participate in the Lex Salus program by attending barbecue lunches, pancake breakfasts, knitting and crochet circles, seminars, guest speakers, conferences and other activities. Our Facebook page, website and regular all-student emails promote upcoming events, and have tips and information on wellness.

    Our Lex Salus YouTube channel also includes videos on topics like managing stress, and interviews with LGBTQ lawyers and their supporters which celebrate diversity and individuality. Students who commit to 10 hours of volunteering with Lex Salus in one year can have their service recognised on their academic transcript and through a thank you morning tea with the Chief Justice and law school staff.

    Student Life Counselling Support
    The University’s Student Life Counselling Support service provides free and confidential service to all enrolled students. We encourage you to contact the Student Life Counselling Support service on 8313 5663 to make an appointment to deal with any issues that may be affecting your study and life.
  • Policies & Guidelines

    This section contains links to relevant assessment-related policies and guidelines - all university policies.

    Academic Honesty
    Academic dishonesty is a serious act of academic misconduct. All students must be familiar with the University’s Academic Honesty Policy.

    Academic dishonesty is a serious matter and is treated as such by the Law School and the University. Academic dishonesty (which goes beyond plagiarism) can be a ground for a refusal by the Supreme Court of South Australia to admit a person to practice as a legal practitioner in South Australia.

    Academic honesty is an essential aspect of ethical and honest behaviour, which is central to the practice of the law and an understanding of what it is to be a lawyer.
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.