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Last modified: 31 May 2022 13:05

Course Overview

The aim of this course is to introduce students to American constitutional law through the study of landmark Supreme Court decisions on controversial moral issues. The material on the course will be organised in relation to broad themes that will enable students to develop and refine their understanding of major issues in American Constitutional Law. The themes include abortion; homosexuality and same-sex marriage; freedom of religion; affirmative action. The course will also help students to familiarise themselves with the main approaches to constitutional interpretation.  

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 4
Session First Sub Session Credit Points 25 credits (12.5 ECTS credits)
Campus Aberdeen Sustained Study No
  • Professor 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?

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 teach and discuss topics of American constitutional law which are of contemporary interest. Main Learning Outcomes: Knowledge and Understanding The outcome should be the critical appreciation/assessment of the problems posed before the US Supreme Court. These may include: abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality and same-sex marriage, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, discrimination, the right to privacy. Students are also expected to have a solid understanding of the American system of judicial review and the different approaches to constitutional interpretation. Subject Specific Skills and Concepts The skills students will acquire or develop are:

  • Analytical skills to construct well-reasoned arguments concerning issues of constitutional rights;
  • Ability to criticise such arguments;
  • Skills of synthesis in piecing together historical, institutional and philosophical insights in assessing the problem of constitutional design;
  • 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;
  • Reflect on own learning and to seek and make use of feedback. Content: The course covers topics which may vary from year to year but, for example, include:
  • The emergence of the American style judicial review;
  • Theories of constitutional interpretation (with a special focus on originalism);
  • The right to privacy – abortion;
  • The right to privacy – homosexuality and same-sex marriage;
  • Freedom of religion;
  • Affirmative action;
  • Voting rights;
  • Surveillance and Technology.

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

First Attempt:

1 x Online Test (35%)

1 x 2500 -word Essay (30%)

1 x 48-hour Onine Exam (35%)


Formative Assessment

There are no assessments for this course.

Course Learning Outcomes

Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
FactualRememberILO’s for this course are available in the course guide.

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