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Semester 2 - Online
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This subject canvasses 11 cutting edge issues in public law at an advanced level that requires deep analysis and critical thinking. While its primary focus is public law in Australia, many of the issues are relevant in common law systems elsewhere and comparative experiences are used to throw light on Australian law and practice. The issues range across constitutional and administrative law and include, for example, proportionality, non-statutory executive power, outsourcing and suits in negligence against government. Each seminar is led by one of Melbourne Law School’s leading experts in the field.
Principal topics are likely to include:
- Judging public law
- Non-statutory powers
- Consultation with Indigenous peoples
- Treaties and agreements with Indigenous peoples
- Actions against governments in negligence
- History and constitutional adjudication
- Concurrent and exclusive legislative powers
- State bills of rights
- Emergency frameworks
- Future directions
The subject is coordinated by Jason Varuhas and Cheryl Saunders, who will ensure interlinkages between seminars and will draw the subject together in a final seminar on future directions. The subject should be of considerable interest to Australian students, to international students from common law countries and to all students curious about the latest developments in public law from a common law perspective.
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject will:
- Have an advanced understanding of a range of issues across Australian public law
- Be able to engage critically with discussion and analysis in relation to each of those issues
- Be familiar with, and be able to apply to other contexts, insights from significant themes that run across one or more seminars including, for example, judicial method, interinstitutional tensions, and the challenges of pluralism
- Be well-placed to anticipate and apply analytical skills to other critical contemporary issues in Australian public law
- Understand the insights that can be derived for Australian law from comparative experience, properly applied
- Be aware of the extent to which common law legal systems share broadly comparable public law challenges, despite differences in context.
Generic skills that will be developed through successful completion of this subject include:
- A capacity to identify, understand and evaluate major new developments in public law
- The ability to think conceptually and analytically about challenges in public law
- The ability to think conceptually and analytically about the relationship between institutions in public law
- An appreciation of how principle and practice change over time and the ability to analyse how and why
- Advanced research skills in understanding and explaining problems in public law in sufficient detail to be reliable for the purposes of sustaining an argument
- An ability to think creatively about problems and solutions for complex challenges in public law
- Advanced skills in the application of comparative method
Last updated: 29 July 2022