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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Undergraduate Course: The Changing Constitution (LAWS10210)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Law CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis is an advanced level course in the constitutional law of the UK. The aim of this course is to develop an advanced knowledge and understanding of selected aspects of constitutional law.

Building upon PLUS and PLAIR, the School's Ordinary level public law courses, this Honours course takes an in-depth view of selected areas of the constitution that are currently changing, e.g.:

Devolution and the territorial constitution;
The role of Parliament;
Post-Brexit constitutional issues.

The course aims to draw out themes of change, how the various areas are linked, and where they are in fact disparate and disconnected. The course will seek to arrive at new understandings of patterns within the constitution, assessing it against established doctrines such as parliamentary supremacy, prerogative powers, and the rule of law.
Course description 1. Students will be expected to develop a sophisticated sense of how to read relevant primary materials as well as the ability to engage with demanding secondary texts dealing with both substantive constitutional law and the theoretical work that helps us to understand constitutionalism in context. They will be expected to read statutes; delegated legislation; parliamentary reports and cases.

2. The course will address current issues in the constitution. Inevitably these will depend upon developments at the time. It is not possible to be too precise, but reading lists and seminar sheets will be developed two to three weeks in advance to keep the subject-matter fresh.

3. The course will be seminar-based. Students will be given listed reading or research tasks based upon current developments. They will be expected to discuss these in class. Course presentations will also be assigned.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Public Law and Individual Rights (LAWS08132) AND Public Law of the UK and Scotland (LAWS08123)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Spaces on this course are allocated as part of the Law Honours Course Allocation process. Places are generally only available to students who must take Law courses. To request a space on this course, please email
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesThis course is only open to visiting students coming through a direct exchange with the School of Law (including Erasmus students on a Law-specific Exchange). Exchange students outside of Law and independent study abroad students are not eligible to enrol in this course, with no exceptions.

**Please note that 3rd year Law courses are high-demand, meaning that they have a very high number of students wishing to enrol in a very limited number of spaces.**
Priority will be given to students studying on exchange within the Law department, and it is highly unlikely that there will be additional spaces for general exchange students & independent study abroad students to enrol; we will look into this on a case-by-case basis in September/January. Visiting students are advised to bear in mind that enrolment in specific courses can never be guaranteed, and you may need to be flexible in finding alternatives in case your preferred courses have no available space.

These enrolments are managed strictly by the Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department, and all enquiries to enrol in these courses must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office. It is not appropriate for students to contact the department directly to request additional spaces.

Students must have passed Public Law and Individual Rights (LAWS08132) AND Public Law of the UK and Scotland (LAWS08123) or equivalent courses at their home institution.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 1
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 (Essay)
Feedback Students will have the opportunity to undertake a formative assessment and will receive feedback on this. They will also receive feedback on their individual summative essay.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand constitutional law as a distinctive legal concept which is separate from, but informed by, other disciplines and practices.
  2. Understand in-depth current changes in the constitution, distinguishing seminal from more trivial developments.
  3. Be able to map the constitution by linking these new developments together.
  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 discussion.
Reading List
Standard test books such as Elliott and Thomas will still be useful. This will be supplemented by current articles in Public Law, MLR, CLJ, OJLS, LQR etc.
We will also use the UK CLA blog with is edited to an academic standard. Weekly assignments will include reports of parliamentary committees, House of Commons Library papers etc.
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 on 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.
KeywordsConstitutional Law,Constitutional Theory,Constitutional Change,Devolution,Parliament
Course organiserProf Stephen Tierney
Tel: (0131 6)50 2070
Course secretaryMiss Susie Morgan
Tel: (0131 6)50 2339
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