Comparative Constitutional Law
- Start date
- End date
- Year of study
- Term 1
- Module code
- FHEQ Level
- School of Law
This module “de-colonizes” comparative constitutional law.
It introduces students to critical approaches to comparative law; it de-centres the “role model” constitutions; it critiques mainstream liberal theories that idealise these constitutions; and it sheds light on often marginalised constitutional histories and systems. Standard modules on the subject tend to focus on North American and European constitutional experiences.
In contrast, this module focuses on Asian, African, and Latin American experiences. Moreover, the module questions formalist methods and theories that privilege text over practice, separate between law and politics, ignore law’s contradictions, reduce Global South constitutions to mere political instruments, idealise Global North constitutions as normative constraints on politics, and thus generally discount experiences outside the established Western liberal canon.
The module combines thematic discussions and case studies of a variety of constitutional systems, some of which are delivered by guest lecturers who are experts in the respective constitutional system. The thematic sessions may include discussions of constitutions and constitutionalism; the meaning of critical comparative methodology; colonialism and constitutionalism; judicial power; ideology and constitutionalism; religion and constitutionalism; revolution and constitutionalism.
The case studies may include mapping exercises (Islamic constitutionalism, Arab constitutionalism, and constitutionalism in Latin America or Africa), and country-specific cases such as India, Thailand, or Soviet and post-Soviet constitutions (these may change depending on availability).
Objectives and learning outcomes
The aims of this module are to:
- introduce students to methods and theories of comparative public law
- introduce students to critiques of dominant theories and methods
- provide knowledge of the variety of constitutional systems across countries
- inculcate analytical and research skills
- encourage reflection on the potentialities and limits of constitutional law in regulating the exercise of public power in contemporary society
- Weekly 2 hour lecture
Method of assessment
- AS1 coursework assignment 90%
- AS2 coursework assignment 10%
Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules.