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LAW8712 Comparative Constitutional Law

Semester 2, 2019 Online
Short Description: Comparative Constitutional Law
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts
School or Department : School of Law and Justice
Student contribution band : Band 3
ASCED code : 090903 - Constitutional Law
Grading basis : Graded


Examiner: Chris Piggott-McKellar


Pre-requisite: (LAW5111 & LAW5112) or LAW5501 or Students must be enrolled in one of the following programs: LLBH or LLMC

Other requisites

Students are required to have access to a personal computer, e-mail capabilities and Internet access to UConnect. Current details of computer requirements can be found at


Over the past few decades, the field of comparative constitutional law has become a prominent and highly visible area of research, mainly due to trends of global constitutionalism and the ever increasing pace of economic, social, and political integration. This course provides an introduction to the field by examining the legal structures and concepts found in Constitutions, both at the national and subnational levels. These include sovereignty, the separation of powers, subsidiarity and federalism, and the rule of law. The course is intended to familiarize students with the constitutional systems that played a major role in shaping the constitutional choices adopted in Australia, namely those of the United Kingdom and the United States. In addition, the course examines constitutions such as those of Canada, New Zealand, the European Union and Switzerland, to provide a different perspective on the principles underlying our own constitutional designs. The course will also examine the constitutional renaissance in Latin America and its role in inducing constitutional change and transitions in other contexts.


The course encourages a heutagogical approach to learning through (1) examining the rationale and methodology for comparing constitutions, and (2) an analytical framework addressing questions of constitutional purpose, function, design and doctrine, with emphasis on the constitutional role of different governance structures, from the local to the supra-national. The course also looks qualitatively at constitutional convergence and divergence, and the impact of globalization on constitutional designs.


On successful completion of this course students should be able to:

  1. use comparative constitutional study to offer insights into constitutional choices in Australia
  2. explain how different constitutional systems deal with similar issues
  3. evaluate federalism and subsidiarity in different constitutional contexts
  4. appraise the role of and differences between subnational constitutions.


Description Weighting(%)
1. Theory and methodology 20.00
2. Constitutional ideas and processes 20.00
3. Constitutional architgecture and texture 20.00
4. Constitutional rights 20.00
5. Constitutional trends. 20.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

Rosenfeld, M & Sajo, A (eds) 2013, The Oxford handbook of comparative constitutional law, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.
Amar, VD & Tushnet, MV (eds) 2009, Global perspectives on constitutional law, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.
Smits, JM (ed.) 2012, Elgar encyclopedia of comparative law, 2nd edn, Edward Elgar Publishing, Cheltenham, UK.

Student workload expectations

Activity Hours
Assessments 100.00
Directed Study or Intensive Classes 16.00
Private Study 49.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
RESEARCH PAPER 50 50 28 Oct 2019

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    Online: There are no attendance requirements for this course. However, it is the students' responsibility to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration.

    On-campus: It is the students' responsibility to attend and participate appropriately in all activities (such as lectures, tutorials, laboratories and practical work) scheduled for them, and to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To satisfactorily complete an individual assessment item a student must achieve at least 50% of the marks. Depending upon the requirements in Statement 4 below, students may not have to satisfactorily complete each assessment item to receive a passing grade in this course.

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    Students should refer to the Assessment Procedure (point 4.2.4)

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must achieve at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for the course.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the aggregate of the weighted marks obtained for each of the assessment items in the course.

  6. Examination information:
    There is no examination in this course.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    Not applicable.

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Assessment notes

  1. Referencing in assignments:
    Students must use the Australian Guide to Legal Citation (AGLC) style. For AGLC style guide enquiries, consult the AGLC manual from the USQ Library's referencing guide at, or contact the Law librarian.