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Administrative Law (LAWS50032)

Graduate coursework level 5Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework Level 5
Subject codeLAWS50032
Semester 1
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

Administrative law regulates the relationship between the state and its people, in other words, the relationship between the government and the governed. In particular, it regulates the powers and procedures of the executive branch of government and establishes the mechanisms for ensuring legality, transparency and accountability in executive decision-making. This subject completes the core curriculum’s examination of the legal framework of government in Australia. In doing so, it builds on and assumes the knowledge gained in all earlier compulsory subjects especially LAWS50024 Principles of Public Law and LAWS50028 Constitutional Law.

By providing students with a grounding in the key elements of Australian administrative law, this subject will assist students to think critically about government administration in the context of privatisation, security pressures, and the adoption of human rights protection. The study of administrative law will will also enable advanced development of student skills in statutory interpretation, in the particularly challenging context of administrative law.

Matters covered include:

  • Introduction:
    • Development of executive government and administrative law;
    • Types of executive action, including the concept of discretion; and
    • The functions of administrative law in regulating executive power.
  • Accountability for the exercise of executive power:
    • The scrutiny of delegated legislation;
    • Access to information;
    • Reasons for administrative decisions;
    • Non-adjudicative review: Parliament, the Ombudsman and others;
    • Tribunals and merits review; and
    • The impact of human rights protection on government powers and administrative law.
  • Judicial review of administrative decisions:
    • Avenues of judicial review:
      • Commonwealth decisions: the ADJR Act; the Constitution; and the Judiciary Act; and
      • State decisions: O56, statutory ‘appeal’ provisions and the Administrative Law Act.
    • The primary judicial review procedures;
    • Standing to bring judicial review;
    • The concept of jurisdictional error;
    • Judicial review grounds;
    • Remedies and the consequences of unlawful decisions; and
    • Excluding/limiting judicial review.

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this subject, students should:

  • Have developed an understanding of:
    • The structure and operation of executive government in Australia;
    • The fundamental principles of effective governance and accountability for the exercise of government power;
    • Some theoretical perspectives on administrative law, including the relationship between administrative law and governance and the foundations of judicial review;
    • The structure and operation of the Australian administrative law systems, including their constitutional, statutory and common law bases, institutions, principles and remedies;
    • The difference between judicial review and merits review and the kinds of arguments that may be made in each context;
    • The importance of statutory construction and interpretation in the exercise and supervision of government powers, and the major techniques and aids used;
    • The way in which government policies are given effect through legislation and how the legislative and administrative law framework affects their implementation;
    • The primary aspects of practice and procedure in administrative law; and
    • Challenges to the development of administrative law and accountability in Australia today.
  • Be able to draw on this understanding to:
    • Find, state and apply the rules and principles of administrative law;
    • Describe and critically analyse the fundamental principles of administrative law;
    • Identify relevant administrative law cases and statutes, and state and critically analyse the legal principles that emerge from them;
    • Apply the techniques of statutory construction and interpretation to mount and evaluate arguments about the interpretation of statutes conferring powers and authorising government actions;
    • Critically analyse the relationship between these legal principles and the fundamental principles of administrative law;
    • Apply these legal principles to new fact situations to construct arguments about:
      • The merits of government decisions that may be put in the context of merits review of those decisions; and
      • The legality of government decisions that may be put in the context of judicial review of those decisions.
    • Develop arguments about which legal principles should be applied when the relevant provisions or decisions are unclear or in conflict; and
    • Present these descriptions, analyses and applications of principles in the form of written arguments that are appropriately structured, developed, supported and referenced.

Generic skills

On completion of the subject, students should have developed the following generic skills:

  • Attitudes towards knowledge that include valuing truth, openness to new ideas and ethics associated with knowledge creation and usage;
  • The capacity for close reading and analysis of a range of sources;
  • The capacity for critical and independent thought and reflection;
  • The capacity to solve problems, including through the collection and evaluation of information;
  • The capacity to communicate, both orally and in writing;
  • The capacity to plan and manage time;
  • The capacity to participate as a member of a team; and
  • Intercultural sensitivity and understanding.

On completion of the subject, students should also have developed the following skills specific to the discipline of law:

  • Case reading and analysis, including an ability to:
    • Read complex administrative law cases, including unedited cases in the law reports;
    • Extract important features from judgments;
    • Reconcile judgments;
    • Evaluate the development of legal principles; and
    • Apply legal principles arising from case law to new situations.
  • Statutory reading, interpretation and analysis, including an ability to:
    • Use the Federal Register of Legislative Instruments to locate Commonwealth legislation;
    • Identify and advise on the requirements for consultation, publication and tabling of delegated legislation and the disallowance process;
    • Identify the version of statutory provisions in force at a particular date;
    • Extract important features from statutes;
    • Identify and analyse discretionary decision-making powers conferred by statute;
    • Use, interpret and apply statutory provisions to new situations;
    • Distinguish discretionary powers and provisions that operate automatically;
    • Identify the statutory and non-statutory pre-conditions for the exercise of discretionary powers; and
    • Identify the purpose of statutory provisions and the purposes for which discretionary powers may be exercised.
  • Legal analysis and problem-solving, including an ability to:
    • Critically analyse legal rules with reference to fundamental principles;
    • Identify and analyse administrative law issues arising in complex fact situations;
    • Apply administrative law principles and statutory provisions to unfamiliar fact situations;
    • Develop and present an appropriately structured and supported legal argument; and
    • Prepare appropriately structured, developed, supported and referenced documents (such as pleadings and submissions) used in administrative law proceedings in courts and tribunals.
  • Legal research skills, including an ability to:
    • Find case law;
    • Find statutes and subordinate legislation;
    • Use the Federal Register of Legislative Instruments; and
    • Identify the version of statutory provisions in force at a particular date.
  • Legal writing skills, including an ability to:
    • Use case law as part of legal analysis;
    • Use statutes as part of legal analysis;
    • Identify and summarise legal principles;
    • Identify and summarise fundamental principles;
    • Use proper referencing and citation;
    • Present an appropriately structured and supported complex legal argument; and
    • Draft appropriately structured, developed, supported and referenced documents (such as pleadings and submissions) used in administrative law proceedings in courts and tribunals.
  • Oral communication skills in participating in classroom problem solving and discussion;
  • An ability to work in groups to solve problems and critically analyse legal materials in a classroom setting; and
  • Have enhanced general cognitive skills in relation to reading and comprehending legal materials; logical analysis and reasoning; legal research and writing; application of legal principles to factual situations; identifying relevant factual information; identifying and considering options to resolve legal problems; drawing on the knowledge of other disciplines to understand and resolve legal issues.

Eligibility and requirements


Successful completion of all the below subjects:

Code Name Teaching period Credit Points
LAWS50023 Legal Method and Reasoning
Summer Term
LAWS50024 Principles of Public Law
Semester 1
LAWS50025 Torts
Semester 1
LAWS50026 Obligations
Semester 1
LAWS50027 Dispute Resolution 12.5
Code Name Teaching period Credit Points
LAWS90140 Disputes and Ethics
Semester 2
Code Name Teaching period Credit Points
LAWS50028 Constitutional Law
Semester 2
LAWS50029 Contracts
Semester 2



Non-allowed subjects


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

  • 1,250-word practical exercise due during semester (20%);
  • 3-hour supervised examination held during the main examination period (80%).

The due dates of the above assessment will be available to students via the Assessment Schedule on the LMS Community.

Dates & times

  • Semester 1
    Principal coordinatorPaula O'Brien
    Mode of deliveryOn Campus — Parkville
    Contact hours48 hours
    Total time commitment144 hours
    Teaching period 4 March 2019 to 2 June 2019
    Last self-enrol date15 March 2019
    Census date31 March 2019
    Last date to withdraw without fail10 May 2019
    Assessment period ends28 June 2019

    Semester 1 contact information

    Email: law-aso@unimelb.edu.au
    Phone: +61 3 8344 4475
    Website: law.unimelb.edu.au

Time commitment details

144 hours

Further information

  • Texts

    Prescribed texts

    • Cane, McDonald and Rundle, Cases for Principles of Administrative Law (OUP, 3rd ed)
    • Legislation:
      • Commonwealth (selected provisions to be advised in class);
      • Victoria (selected provisions to be advised in class).
    • Specialist materials will also be made available from Melbourne Law School.
  • 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.

Last updated: 26 July 2019