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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Undergraduate Course: Fundamental Issues in Comparative Constitutional Law (LAWS10211)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Law CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis advanced course in public law will build on the themes and subjects studied in PLUS and PLAIR at Ordinary level, and for those who have taken it, the proposed new The Changing Constitution first semester course at Honours level. The course will be an advanced introduction to contemporary comparative constitutional law and applied constitutional theory, and will engage with particular themes and issues emerging in these fields. In particular, the course will examine: the theory and practice of constitution-making; models of liberal constitutionalism (political, legal and dialogic); structures of constitutional review and rights protection; non-Western models of constitutionalism (focusing on postcolonial republicanism, ethnocracy, and abusive constitutionalism); forms of government including parliamentarism, presidentialism and hybrid forms; plurinationalism, federalism and secession (using Scotland and the UK as a current case study); the relationship between international law and constitutional law in a globalised world; the debate on constitutionalising justiciable socioeconomic rights; and comparative freedom of information regimes (with case studies spanning the developed and developing worlds). At the end of the course, students would gain a solid grounding in the methods of comparative constitutional law, a good awareness of some of its major current substantive and theoretical concerns, and perhaps equally importantly, an opportunity to take a virtual empirical 'world tour' of countries.
Course description In recent decades the comparative approach to studying constitutional law has become a major and perhaps even a dominant method in the field. It has generated a very substantial literature and the course reading will reflect many of the central texts. Adopting this comparative approach, students will be expected to develop a sophisticated sense of how to read relevant primary materials, such as constitutions, primary and secondary legislation, and key political documents such as peace agreements. They will also be expected to develop the ability to engage with demanding secondary texts dealing with substantive constitutional law, theoretical work that helps us to understand constitutionalism in context, and literature from relevant related disciplines like comparative politics, political sociology, constitutional history, and political economy. Through consideration of major themes, they will have the opportunity to consider how these play out in distinctive political, social, economic, and cultural contexts of countries in different regions of the world.

The core elements of the course are listed below. Reading lists and seminar sheets will be developed two to three weeks in advance to keep the subject-matter fresh. The content is divided broadly into two parts. The first half of the course will look at general themes and issues that delineates the field of comparative constitutional law (Seminars 1-6) and the seminars in the second half will take up specific constitutional challenges for study through a comparative lens.

PART 1: General Themes

1. Introduction to Comparative Constitutional Law and Applied Constitutional Theory
2. The Theory and Practice of Constitution-Making: Scope and Limits
3. Models of Liberal Constitutionalism: Legal, Political, and Dialogic Constitutionalism
4. Structures of Constitutional Review and Rights Protection
5. Forms and Structures of Government: Parliamentary, Presidential, and Hybrid Models
6. Non-Western Models of Constitutionalism: Postcolonial Republicanism, Ethnocracy, and Abusive Constitutionalism

PART 2: Current Issues

7. Plurinationalism, Federalism, and Secession: Scotland and the United Kingdom
8. Discordant Parity? Constitutional Law and International Law
9. To do Or Not to do: Constitutionalising Justiciable Socioeconomic Rights
10. Comparative Constitutional and Statutory Regimes of Freedom of Information: UK, Scotland, US, New Zealand, South Africa, India, and Sri Lanka

The course will be seminar-based with a 2-hour seminar every week. Students will be given listed readings based upon current developments. They will be expected to discuss these in class, and students will be assessed on class participation.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Public Law of the UK and Scotland (LAWS08123) AND Public Law and Individual Rights (LAWS08132)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2017/18, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  25
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 100% coursework, consisting of 80% essay and 20% class participation.
Feedback Students will submit an annotated structure and bibliography for their summative essay in week 4 or 5 (just before reading week, anonymised through PebblePad), for written individual feedback, and will receive more general oral feedback in class. Individual feedback will be provided in relation to the essay.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand comparative constitutional law as a distinctive legal field which is separate from, but informed by, other disciplines and practices;
  2. Understand in depth current developments relating to areas studied in the course in a variety of constitutional systems across the world;
  3. Thematically map discrete areas of comparative constitutional law by linking these new developments together, and be able to discern similarities and divergences in comparative law and practice;
  4. Employ skills of spoken and written communication, particularly in the formation of abstract legal concepts;
  5. Independently read and analyse across inter-disciplinary source materials, and then construct a shared understanding by participation in the discussion.
Reading List
There is no single textbook that will cover the content of the course. However, major texts (e.g., Tushnet┐s Advanced Introduction and Oxford Handbook) and journals relevant to the course are already available in the Law Library and in most if not all cases available online. Any new resources will be acquired through the normal process via the Library Committee. Students will also be encouraged to keep abreast of new developments through the main academic blogs in the field (e.g., UK Constitutional Law Blog) and other reliable online resources (e.g., ConstitutionNet).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Students will develop the skills of working independently in the critical analysis of legal and non-legal source materials. They will gain experience in establishing the relevance of non-legal academic disciplines to understanding the formation and content of primary legal doctrines and underlying theories on comparative constitutional law and its current development. Clarity of written and spoken expression of abstract concepts will be an essential attribute to successful participation in the course. By interactive discussion, they will learn the value of shared dialogue to the formation and refinement of their thinking.
KeywordsComparative constitutional law,constitution making,constitutionalism,government
Course organiserDr Asanga Welikala
Tel: (0131 6)50 6520
Course secretaryMs Tracy Noden
Tel: (0131 6)50 2053
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