LAW 3532 - Advanced Constitutional Law: Theory and Practice

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2018

This course will explore the ways in which courts, governments and individuals shape Australian constitutional law. It will include an overview of the different schools of theoretical thought regarding constitutional interpretation, but also around principles such as popular sovereignty, federalism, the separation of powers, the rule of law, and the role of the common law. The course will give students an opportunity to explore current constitutional questions as well as historically important constitutional disputes. Students will gain an understanding of the trajectory of, and trends in, constitutional law. The study of these topics will allow students to deepen and broaden their understanding of the principles of constitutional law learnt in the compulsory course, Australian Constitutional Law. Students will gain an understanding of the practice of key actors in constitutional matters, including the High Court, state and federal executives and legislatures, indigenous people and other individuals.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code LAW 3532
    Course Advanced Constitutional Law: Theory and Practice
    Coordinating Unit Adelaide Law School
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate Law (LLB)
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 3 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites LAW 1504 and LAW 2501
    Course Description This course will explore the ways in which courts, governments and individuals shape Australian constitutional law. It will include an overview of the different schools of theoretical thought regarding constitutional interpretation, but also around principles such as popular sovereignty, federalism, the separation of powers, the rule of law, and the role of the common law. The course will give students an opportunity to explore current constitutional questions as well as historically important constitutional disputes. Students will gain an understanding of the trajectory of, and trends in, constitutional law. The study of these topics will allow students to deepen and broaden their understanding of the principles of constitutional law learnt in the compulsory course, Australian Constitutional Law. Students will gain an understanding of the practice of key actors in constitutional matters, including the High Court, state and federal executives and legislatures, indigenous people and other individuals.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Anna Olijnyk

    Course Timetable

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

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    On successful completion of this course, students will be able to:
    1. Analyse the principles of Australian constitutional law, undertake self-directed legal research at an advanced level, and evaluate complex legal information. 
    2. Critique the operation of Australian constitutional law from a theoretical and policy perspective. 
    3. Structure sustained and concise written and oral arguments for a legal audience. 
    4. Analyse the operation of Australian constitutional law from a policy perspective, and in the context of social and cultural diversity. 
    5. Reflect on their abilities to effectively undertake work as a member of a team.
    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
    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
    2
    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
    3
    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
    4
    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
    5
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    There is no textbook for this course. The required resources are: 
    1. Course Guide (contains overview of topics, and the exercises for each course)
    2. Course Readings (available via MyUni or from the Image and Copy Centre)

    Recommended Resources
    Students may find the following additional resources of assistance throughout the course:
    • Tony Blackshield and George Williams, Australian Constitutional Law and Theory: Commentary and Materials (7th ed, Federation Press, 2018) – this is the required text for Australian Constitution Law and students may find the discussion of constitutional principle in this text a useful reference or starting point for understanding the more advanced analysis in this course.
    • Australian constitutional convention debates of the 1890s: these are available in hard copy in the library, or through the Australian Senate website:
    • http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/pubs/records.htm.
    • John Quick and Robert Garran, The Annotated Constitution of the Australian Commonwealth (1901)
    • James Stellios, Zines' The High Court and the Constitution (6th ed, Federation Press, 2015)
    Additional resources may be posted on MyUni during the Course.
    Online Learning
    MyUni will be used to post announcements, post additional class materials (including slides if used, and if available, audio recordings of lectures) and announce assignment tasks. It will also contain electronic copies of the Course Guide and Course Materials.

    Students are expected to check MyUni regularly to keep up to date with these materials and additional learning resources throughout the course.

    Lectures will be recorded, subject to the following caveats: 
    1) Much of the class, particularly the second and third hours, will consist of interactive discussion. The recording may not pick up much of this discussion. 
    2) Some guest lecturers may not consent to being recorded. 
    3) Listening to the lectures is not a substitute for participating in the activities in class. 
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    This course will be taught in a three hour block. Typically, the first hour will consist of a lecture and (if relevant) group presentation; the second hour will involve interactive large and small group discussion and activities; and the third hour will be an in-depth discussion of a set reading. 

    Each week, we will focus on the contribution to constitutional interpretation of an identified institution or group. The topics are outined below under 'Learning Activities Summary'. 

    Attendance classes is not compulsory, but is strongly encouraged. By attending class, students will gain a greater understanding of the multiple perspectives from which the substantive law can be viewed, and will have the opportunity to develop their critical thinking and analytical abilities. 

    Workload

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

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

    Contact time: attend 3 hour lecture each week. This amounts to 36 hours of formal class time across the semester.

    Preparation time: In addition to attending formal classes it is anticipated that students will do substantial independent work to prepare for 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
    Week Summary of Topic
    Week 1 Introduction to Course
    The High Court Part I: Legalism 
    Week 2 The High Court Part II: Realism and Public Opinion
    Week 3 The High Court Part III: Individual Judges
    Week 4 The High Court Part IV: Judgment Writing
    Week 5 The Executive Part I
    MID SEMESTER BREAK
    Week 6 The Executive Part II
    Week 7 Parliament
    Week 8 Individuals and Corporations Part I
    Week 9 Individuals and Corporations Part II
    Week 10 Social Movements and Pressure Groups
    Week 11 The States and Territories
    Week 12 Current Constitutional Issues
    Specific Course Requirements
    There are no additional requirements for completion of this course other than described elsewhere in this document.
    Small Group Discovery Experience
    This course does not include a small group discovery experience.
  • 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
    This course contains three assessment tasks.
    Assessment taskGroup/IndividualDue Date% WeightingRedeemable?Word CountLearning Outcomes
    Group Presentation  Group N/A; each group to be assigned a presentation date 10 No N/A 1, 3, 4, 5
    Interim assignment (judgment writing exercise) Individual 5pm Monday, second week of the mid-semester break 30 No 2000 1, 3, 4
    Final assignment (research essay) Individual 5pm Wednesday, Swotvac 60 No 4000 1, 2, 3, 4
    Assessment Related Requirements
    There are no additional assessment-related requirements.
    Assessment Detail
    1. Group Presentation (10%)

    In week 1, students will be assigned to groups and each group will be assigned a topic for a group presentation. Group presentations will take place in class between weeks 5 and 12 inclusive. Each topic will be a case study of a constitutional issue that highlights the aspect of constitutional law covered in that week's class. 

    Further details of the group presentation assignment will be released in week 1. 

    2. Interim assignment (judgment writing exercise) (30%)

    This assessment will provide students with an opportunity to apply their understanding of the role of the High Court in constitutional interpretation. The assignment will require students to write part of a judgment in a past High Court case, and to explain the approach taken in light of the materials covered in weeks 1-4 of the course. 

    Further details of this assignment will be released in week 1. 


    4. Final assignment (research essay) (60%)

    This assessment will allow students to demonstrate their research and writing skills, and to apply their understanding of the concepts covered in the course. The assignment will require students to identify, research, and analyse a case study involving constitutional interpretation. 

    Further details of this assignment will be released in week 1.
    Submission

    Students must retain a copy of all assignments submitted.

    All assignments in this course are to be submitted electronically through Turnitin.

    Details for electronic submission through Turnitin will be provided with the assignment instructions.

    All written work in the Law school is required to comply with the approved Law School style guide, The Australian Guide to Legal Citation.

    Extensions
    Requests for extensions must be made electronically according to law school policy. Extensions will be granted only for unexpected illness, hardship or on compassionate grounds in accordance with University Policy. Work commitments, travel, holidays or sporting engagements are not unexpected circumstances.

    Late Submission Penalties
    When an assessment is submitted after the due date, without an extension, 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 and public holidays. For example, an assignment 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 assignment that is more than 24 hours late will lose 10%, etc.

    Word limit penalties
    5% of the total mark possible for a written assessment will be deducted for every 100 words (or part thereof) by which it exceeds a stipulated word limit. For example, a 3,000 word assignment graded at 63% will have 5% deducted if it is between 3,001 and 3,100 words long for a final mark of 58%. If the assignment is between 3,101 and 3,200 words long, 10% will be deducted for a final mark of 53%, etc. Word limits include all words in the text, in headings, and in quotations, but exclude citations in footnotes. Any separate cover page, table of contents, bibliography or list of sources is excluded from the word limit. If the word limit is misstated, this may be regarded as academic dishonesty.

    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).

    Moderation
    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 (http://www.adelaide.edu.au/policies/101/) 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.