Unit description

Outlines the application of British and Australian laws to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples since 1788. Discusses the impact of law and policy relating to land, intellectual property, cultural heritage, the natural environment, criminal justice, child welfare, and discrimination. Contemporary legal issues will also be considered in areas such as Indigenous governance, recognition and self-determination.

Unit content

The purpose of this unit is to introduce students to the contemporary legal issues affecting Indigenous Australian people. The syllabus broadly follows the format of the prescribed text, which takes a thematic, rather than a chronological, approach. However, we consolidate the 15 chapters of the textbook into 12 topics.

  • Topics 1-3 follow the theme 'the law of the colonisers'.
  • Topics 4 and 5 are set out under the theme 'criminalisation'.
  • Topics 6-8 are arranged under the theme 'law, land and culture'.
  • Topics 9-12 conclude the unit according to the theme 'law, rights and governance'.

The breadth of the syllabus means that we can only cover these themes in 'brush-strokes'.

Learning outcomes

Unit Learning Outcomes express learning achievement in terms of what a student should know, understand and be able to do on completion of a unit. These outcomes are aligned with the graduate attributes. The unit learning outcomes and graduate attributes are also the basis of evaluating prior learning.

Learning outcomes and graduate attributes

Prescribed texts

Session 2

  • Behrendt, L, Cunneen, C & Libesman, T, 2009, Indigenous Legal Relations in Australia, 1st edn, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne. ISBN: 9780195562019.
Prescribed texts may change in future study periods.

Teaching and assessment


Teaching method
Tutorial online 2 hours (10)
Structured online learning 1 hour (12)
Exam: open book50%

Intensive offerings may or may not be scheduled in every session. Please refer to the timetable for further details.

Southern Cross University employs different teaching methods within units to provide students with the flexibility to choose the mode of learning that best suits them. SCU academics strive to use the latest approaches and, as a result, the learning modes and materials may change. The most current information regarding a unit will be provided to enrolled students at the beginning of the study session.

Fee information


Commonwealth Supported courses
For information regarding Student Contribution Amounts please visit the Student Contribution Amounts.
Commencing 2015 Commonwealth Supported only. Student contribution band: 1

Fee paying courses
For POSTGRADUATE or UNDERGRADUATE full fee paying courses please check Domestic Postgraduate Fees OR Domestic Undergraduate Fees


Please check the international course and fee list to determine the relevant fees.