LAW5004 - Principles of public law and statutory interpretation - 2018

6 points, SCA Band 3, 0.125 EFTSL

Postgraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Chief examiner(s)

Dr Joyce Chia (Trimester 1)
Ms Martine Marich (Trimester 2 and 3)

Quota applies

Postgraduate programs are based on a model of small group teaching and therefore class sizes need to be restricted.

Unit guides


City (Melbourne)

  • Trimester 1 2018 (On-campus)
  • Trimester 2 2018 (On-campus)
  • Trimester 3 2018 (On-campus)


LAW5000, LAW5001, LAW5002


The unit will introduce the basic principles of public law, government and statutory interpretation in Australian law. The unit will investigate the range of legal devices whereby Australia is governed, and will introduce key ideas pertaining to public legal entities, including the Crown. Fundamental principles of public law will be considered, together with the broader contexts in which they arise and operate. So will fundamental constitutional relationships between each of Parliament, the executive and the judiciary. The unit will also deal with statutory interpretation in depth, beginning with the fundamental constitutional principle of parliamentary supremacy, and exploring how the rules and principles of statutory interpretation flow from an understanding of the constitutional relationship between Parliament and the judiciary.


At the successful completion of this Unit students will be able to:

  1. explain the legal principles and institutional arrangements that underpin government in Australia;
  2. demonstrate an awareness of the principles and values that have shaped the Australian system of government, including representative democracy, the rule of law and human rights;
  3. articulate and critically examine the purposes and scope of the fundamental constitutional rules that govern the relationships between Parliament, the executive and the judiciary;
  4. demonstrate the intellectual and practical skills needed to identify, research, evaluate and synthesise relevant factual, legal and policy issues;
  5. select, interpret and apply relevant rules and principles of statutory interpretation in order to reach a considered view on the legal meaning, or likely legal meaning, of a doubtful legislative provision, including determining whether, as a matter of statutory interpretation, a statutory offence requires proof of a mental element and (if so) what that mental element is;
  6. give a reasoned opinion as to the appropriate meaning of a legislative provision;
  7. communicate in ways that are effective, appropriate and persuasive; and
  8. learn and work independently and make use of feedback to support their further learning.


  1. Case Note (2250 words): 30%
  2. Examination (2 hours plus 30 minutes reading time): 70%

Workload requirements

Students enrolled in this unit will be provided with 36 contact hours of seminars per semester whether intensive, semi-intensive, or semester-long offering. Students will be expected to do reading set for class, and to undertake additional research and reading applicable to a 6 credit point unit.