Faculty of Law

Postgraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2014 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 3, 0.125 EFTSL

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

FacultyFaculty of Law
OfferedMalaysia Trimester 2 2014 (Day)


Both the structure of government and human rights guarantees - in constitutions of the Western liberal-democratic tradition - will be considered. Structure-of-government topics may include the design and function of legislatures and their component Houses; heads of state; federal division of powers; judicial power and constitutional Courts. Rights provisions to be considered will be selected from traditionally protected rights such as freedom of speech and freedom of religion. The dialogue model of rights protection pioneered in Canada will also be considered. In conclusion, attention will be devoted to the approaches to constitutional interpretation manifested by various Courts: to what extent should they strive to be loyal to the text and/or the founders' intentions?


Upon completion of this unit, students should
a. have a general understanding of the constitutional law and statutory framework that operate in the various countries of the Western liberal-democratic tradition;
b. possess an understanding of the various alternatives in institutional design of principal constitutional organs, and the advantages and disadvantages of each;
c. understand and be able to assess, in their societal contexts, the approaches to federalism in constitutions and court decisions from selected federal countries of the world;
d. have specific understanding of the particular rights studied, and the framework for protection established under the relevant constitutional systems;
e. be able to identify or find the relevant principles, laws and precedents and apply them to resolve issues relating to breaches of individual rights and freedoms;
f. be in a position to assess the merits and demerits of the dialogue approach to the protection of human rights pioneered in Canada and copied in Victoria;
g. have further developed legal research and writing and legal argument skills by undertaking systematic research into legal policy, rules and procedures and comparative perspectives relating to constitutional law and individual rights;
h. have developed skills of oral presentation of legal policy, rules and argument in an interactive learning context; and
i. be able to identify and assess the broad strands in constitutional interpretation used by Courts within the western liberal-democratic tradition.


Presentation: 10%
Participation: 10%
Short paper (1,500 words): 20%
One take-home examination: 60%

Chief examiner(s)

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.


Australian Constitutional Law or its equivalent at the discretion of the Chief Examiner