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Native Title Law, Policy and Practice - LAWS8212
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Faculty: Faculty of Law
School:  Faculty of Law
Course Outline: See below
Campus: Kensington Campus
Career: Postgraduate
Units of Credit: 6
EFTSL: 0.12500 (more info)
Indicative Contact Hours per Week: 2
Enrolment Requirements:
Pre-requisite: Academic Program must be 9200 or 9210 or 9230 or 5740 or 9211 or 5211 or 9231 or 5231 or 9220 or 5750.
Excluded: JURD7812
CSS Contribution Charge:Band 3 (more info)
Further Information: See Class Timetable


Since the Mabo decision in 1992, native title has emerged as a complex and controversial area of law and policy. This course will offer three main things. At a technical level, we will break down that complexity by isolating the main elements of native title law (the requirements to prove a native title claim, the nature of the property right, extinguishment, future acts, interaction with State laws etc.), in each instance examining the basic legal principles and how they translate into specific detail. Secondly, because native title law is shaped by broader forces, we will take account of the surrounding politics and policy debates. Thirdly, we will draw on experience with the practical operation of the Native Title Act to probe the relationship between the law as written and the reality on the ground.

The course will next be offered in Summer Session January 2014.

LLM Specialisation

Recommended Prior Knowledge

No prescribed prior knowledge, but a basic working knowledge of concepts in property and constitutional law will assist.

Course Objectives

  • To understand the principal statutory and common law features of native title law in Australia
  • To appreciate the interplay between statute and common law, and the relative influence of the courts and parliaments over the current state of native title law
  • To be aware of how extra-legal forces such as time, resources and political factors can affect native title law and native title outcomes
  • To develop a better appreciation of Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspectives on native title
  • To critically evaluate the state of native title law, policy and practice in Australia, including by reference to overseas experience
  • To develop a view on the broader significance of native title in Australian society
  • To develop a more specialised knowledge or perspective on an aspect of native title law, policy and/or practice through the production of a research essay

Main Topics

  • From terra nullius to Mabo No 2
  • Getting a Native Title Act
  • Scoping the Act
  • Change of government, Wik and CERD
  • The Amended Act
  • Society, continuity and connection
  • Native title: characterisation and content
  • Determinations
  • Extinguishment
  • Preparing, pursuing and litigating native title claims
  • After the claim is over
  • Future acts
  • Agreement-making
  • Economic and social development and native title


Class participation Preparation and engagement in class 10%
Short response to 1 article 1,000 words 10%
Research essay 6,000 words 80%

Course Texts


Each time the course is offered, revised volumes of photocopied materials are prepared for student use. These can be purchased from the UNSW Bookshop. Participants need to read each topic bundle in advance of the relevant class.


Refer to Course Outline for a full list of resources.

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© The University of New South Wales (CRICOS Provider No.: 00098G), 2004-2011. The information contained in this Handbook is indicative only. While every effort is made to keep this information up-to-date, the University reserves the right to discontinue or vary arrangements, programs and courses at any time without notice and at its discretion. While the University will try to avoid or minimise any inconvenience, changes may also be made to programs, courses and staff after enrolment. The University may also set limits on the number of students in a course.