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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 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 advanced course in public law will build on the themes and subjects studied in PLUS and PLAIR at Ordinary 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; comparative constitutional design; models of liberal and non-liberal constitutionalism; forms of government including parliamentarism, presidentialism, and hybrid forms; and the constitutional accommodation of societal pluralism. At the end of the course, students would have gained a solid grounding in the methods of comparative constitutional law, a good awareness of some of its major current substantive and theoretical concerns and debates, and perhaps equally importantly, an opportunity to understand the practice of constitutionalism in empirical contexts very different to those of the UK and Scotland.
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 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.
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 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.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
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 100% summative essay.
Feedback Students will submit a formative exercise in week 4 or 5 (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 the Oxford Handbook of Comparative Constitutional Law) 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,democracy
Course organiserDr Asanga Welikala
Tel: (0131 6)50 6520
Course secretaryMiss Robyn Blyth
Tel: (01316) 514550
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