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American Constitutional History & Rights (LAWS90061)

Graduate courseworkPoints: 12.5Not available in 2018

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Year of offerNot available in 2018
Subject levelGraduate coursework
Subject codeLAWS90061
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This intensive course will introduce Australian students to the U.S. Constitution and constitutional rights from a historical perspective. The goal will be an understanding of constitution making and amending in the U.S. context, showing how American constitutional law both is impacted by and impacts the wider social context.

Topics addressed will include:

  • The American Constitutional Convention and ratification process;
  • American federalism and division of powers between state and nation;
  • American constitutional structure with checks between branches;
  • U.S. Bill of Rights and the evolving understanding of individual rights;
  • U.S. constitutional interpretation by the courts: original intent vs. living constitution; and
  • Impact of amendments over time, especially the 14 th amendment to the U.S. Bill of Rights, which addresses citizenship rights and equal protection before the law.

Intended learning outcomes

A student who has successfully completed this subject should have an advanced understanding of, and be able to:

  • Assess, evaluate, and critically analyse:
    • American constitutional history, law and theory;
    • The nature of federalism and balance of powers in the United States;
    • The evolving concept of constitutional rights and individual freedom in American legal and political history;
    • Presidential powers in the American context; and
    • Judicial review and the role of courts in interpreting the American constitution.
  • Apply this understanding and analytical capacity to new situations and contexts; and
  • Communicate their analysis in appropriate scholarly formats.

Generic skills

A student who successfully completes this subject should have developed and demonstrated their skills to engage in:

  • Specialist understanding, reading and critical engagement with cases relating to American constitutional law and making comparisons between them;
  • Specialist understanding, reading and critical engagement with the American Constitution and related statutes;
  • Specialist interpretation, critical reflection and comparison about historical sources relevant to American constitutional law;
  • Critical assessment of challenges to the American Constitution; and
  • Formulate and articulate views on difficult historical and technical issues relating to American Constitution law in oral discussion.

Last updated: 12 September 2019