Federal Constitutional Law (LAWS5011)


The main objective of the course is to impart an understanding of the fundamentals of federal constitutional law through the study of key judicial decisions on powers and prohibitions in the Commonwealth Constitution. The course is designed to provide a general conceptual framework for solving problems about federal constitutional law by a detailed treatment of selected topics.
The course also aims to:
- Provide analysis of the function of the High Court as the final arbiter of constitutionality.
- Develop an understanding of the techniques of judicial review as applied in Australia.
- Encourage discussion about the Constitution as Australia's basic instrument of government.

The topics covered in detail include: Trade and commerce, severance and reading down, inconsistency, external affairs, defence, corporations, freedom of interstate trade, general doctrines of characterisation and interpretation, grants, revenue powers, excise duties, intergovernmental immunities and constitutional rights.

The course may include some overseas material to provide points of comparison and contrast.

Our courses that offer this unit of study

Further unit of study information


2x2hr seminars/week for 10 weeks


Either [assignment (20%) and 2hr final exam (80%)] or [2hr final exam (100%)]

Faculty/department permission required?


Unit of study rules


LAWS5007 or LAWS1021


LAWS1004 or LAWS2011 or LAWS3000 or LAWS3003

Study this unit outside a degree

Non-award/non-degree study

If you wish to undertake one or more units of study (subjects) for your own interest but not towards a degree, you may enrol in single units as a non-award student.

Cross-institutional study

If you are from another Australian tertiary institution you may be permitted to underake cross-institutional study in one or more units of study at the University of Sydney.