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Last modified: 25 May 2018 11:16

Course Overview

Today there is a global dialogue on constitutionalism, and judges extensively borrow doctrinal concepts and arguments from each other. This makes the study of comparative constitutional law ever more relevant and has contributed to the rapid evolution of the discipline. The aim of this course is to introduce students to the methods and main themes of comparative constitutional law. The topics include constitutional borrowing; federalism; the comparison of presidential and parliamentary governments; the types of judicial review; different approaches to constitutional interpretation; the right to privacy and freedom of religion.  

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 4
Session First Sub Session Credit Points 30 credits (15 ECTS credits)
Campus Old Aberdeen Sustained Study No
  • Dr Tamas Gyorfi

Qualification Prerequisites

  • One of Programme Level 3 or Programme Level 4 or Programme Level 5

What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

  • Any Undergraduate Programme (Studied)
  • LS1521 Public Law and Human Rights (Passed)
  • Legal Studies (Ma Honours) (LX) (Studied)
  • One of Programme Level 3 or Programme Level 4 or Programme Level 5

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?


Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

Course Aims: The aim of the course is to introduce students to the methods and purposes of comparative constitutional law, to explain how the powers of government are allocated in different jurisdictions and to analyse how constitutional rights are protected. The topics include constitutional borrowing; federalism; presidential and parliamentary systems, the types of judicial review; different approaches to constitutional interpretation; the right of privacy; freedom of religion; equality. Main Learning Outcomes: Knowledge and Understanding By the end of the course students will have been introduced to, understood and critically evaluated:

  • The main functions of constitutions;
  • How the concept of the people is conceptualised in different constitutions;
  • Federalism;
  • The systems of government (parliamentarism, presidentialism, semi-presidentialism);
  • Constitutional judicial review;
  • Constitutional interpretation; and
  • Selected constitutional rights. Subject Specific Skills and Concepts The skills students will acquire or develop are:
  • Analytical skills to construct well-reasoned arguments concerning issues of human rights;
  • Ability to criticise such arguments;
  • Skills of synthesis in piecing together historical, institutional and philosophical insights in assessing the problem of constitutional design; and
  • Research skills, cooperative skills and oral skills through working together on a topic and making presentations. Key Skills (Transferable)
  • Communicate orally and in writing;
  • Ability to work effectively in small groups to contribute to the group’s task;
  • Ability to work independently, to organise and manage time, stress and effort in performance of tasks;
  • Problem solving skills;
  • Critical analysis;
  • Logical argument;
  • An ability to synthesise and organise complex materials and arguments;
  • With limited guidance act independently, and where appropriate as part of team, in planning and undertaking tasks;
  • Conduct formal and informal oral presentations;
  • Make appropriate use of technology in research, writing and oral presentations; and
  • Reflect on own learning and to seek and make use of feedback. Content:
  • Constitution-making process and the concept of constituent power;
  • The vertical separation of powers: federal and unitary states;
  • The horizontal separation of powers: parliamentarism, presidentialism and semi-presidentialism;
  • Constitutional judicial review;
  • Constitutional Interpretation; and
  • Selected constitutional rights (the right to privacy and autonomy, freedom of religion).

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown


More Information about Week Numbers

Details, including assessments, may be subject to change until 31 August 2023 for 1st half-session courses and 22 December 2023 for 2nd half-session courses.

Summative Assessments

1st Attempt: One 2,500 word essay (25%) and 1 three-hour written examination (75%). Resit: None.

Formative Assessment

One 1,000 word essay for MA Legal Studies students.


Feedback will be provided on the feedback form within three weeks from the date of submission.

Course Learning Outcomes


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