1. Handbook
  2. Subjects
  3. Law of Intergovernmental Relations
  4. Print

Law of Intergovernmental Relations (LAWS70368)

Graduate coursework level 7Points: 12.5Not available in 2019

You’re viewing the 2019 Handbook:
Or view archived Handbooks


Year of offerNot available in 2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework Level 7
Subject codeLAWS70368
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

Intergovernmental relations permeate every aspect of Australian government. It is not possible to fully understand Australian law without an appreciation of how it is affected by arrangements between the Commonwealth and the states. Corporations law, mining law, environmental law, medical law and a host of other fields are based, in one way or another, on arrangements of this kind. This unique subject deals with the complex and opaque framework of law and practice by which intergovernmental arrangements are structured. It demonstrates that the framework is changing, through new legislation, intergovernmental agreements and constitutional interpretation, and offers students the knowledge and skills to follow and critically assess these developments for themselves. The use of examples from current intergovernmental arrangements makes this an intensely practical subject. The subject design also presents the big picture in a way that encourages the class to reflect on the significance of the phenomenon of intergovernmental co-operation as a whole. While the subject has a primarily Australian focus, international students who are curious about multi-level government may find it of interest for this reason as well. Both members of the teaching team have long experience in the area and bring to the subject a rich mix of theoretical understanding and practical insight, from Australia and elsewhere.

Principal topics will include:

  • General constitutional principles
  • The intergovernmental relations map
  • References of power: Constitution section 51(38)
  • Techniques for uniform law
  • Grants and agreements
  • Intergovernmental institutions
  • Executive cooperation
  • Cooperation between courts
  • The High Court and intergovernmental cooperation
  • Administrative law and intergovernmental cooperation
  • Fiscal federalism and intergovernmental relations.

Intended learning outcomes

This subject is designed to give students a thorough grasp of the constitutional and legal framework for intergovernmental arrangements in Australia and arrangements of a supra-national character involving Australia.

A student who has successfully completed this subject should:

  • Understand the constitutional position of Commonwealth, state and local governments in Australia and its relevance to intergovernmental relations
  • Understand the role of intergovernmental arrangements in Australia
  • Be able to distinguish different forms of intergovernmental arrangements and the purpose for which each is used
  • Have a good working knowledge of the constitutional and legal rules which apply to intergovernmental arrangements
  • Appreciate the key similarities and difference between intergovernmental relations at the national and supra-national levels.

Eligibility and requirements


Students will be expected to have some familiarity with constitutional law and/or the practical operation of government in Australia.



Non-allowed subjects


Recommended background knowledge

Applicants without legal qualifications should note that subjects are offered in the discipline of law at an advanced graduate level. While every effort will be made to meet the needs of students trained in other fields, concessions will not be made in the general level of instruction or assessment. Most subjects assume the knowledge usually acquired in a degree in law (LLB, JD or equivalent). Applicants should note that admission to some subjects in the Melbourne Law Masters will be dependent upon the individual applicant’s educational background and professional experience.

Core participation requirements

The University of Melbourne is committed to providing students with reasonable adjustments to assessment and participation under the Disability Standards for Education (2005), and the Assessment and Results Policy (MPF1326). Students are expected to meet the core participation requirements for their course. These can be viewed under Entry and Participation Requirements for the course outlines in the Handbook.

Further details on how to seek academic adjustments can be found on the Student Equity and Disability Support website: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/student-equity/home


Additional details

Take-home examination (100%)
10,000 word research paper (100%) on a topic approved by the subject coordinator

Quotas apply to this subject

Dates & times

Not available in 2019

Time commitment details

The pre-teaching period commences four weeks before the subject commencement date. From this time, students are expected to access and review the Reading Guide that will be available from the LMS subject page and the subject materials provided by the subject coordinator, which will be available from Melbourne Law School. Refer to the Reading Guide for confirmation of which resources need to be read and what other preparation is required before the teaching period commences.

Additional delivery details

This subject has a quota of 30 students. Please refer to the Melbourne Law Masters website for further information about the management of subject quotas and waitlists.

Further information

  • Texts

    Prescribed texts

    Core subject materials will be provided free of charge to all students. Some subjects require further texts to be purchased. Details regarding any prescribed texts will be provided prior to the commencement of the subject.

  • Available through the Community Access Program

    About the Community Access Program (CAP)

    This subject is available through the Community Access Program (also called Single Subject Studies) which allows you to enrol in single subjects offered by the University of Melbourne, without the commitment required to complete a whole degree.

    Entry requirements including prerequisites may apply. Please refer to the CAP applications page for further information.

    Additional information for this subject

    If required, please contact law-admissions@unimelb.edu.au for subject coordinator approval.

  • Available to Study Abroad and/or Study Exchange Students

    This subject is available to students studying at the University from eligible overseas institutions on exchange and study abroad. Students are required to satisfy any listed requirements, such as pre- and co-requisites, for enrolment in the subject.

Last updated: 2 October 2019