LL4AQ      Half Unit
Constitutional Theory

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Professor Martin Loughlin


This course is available on the LLM (extended part-time), LLM (full-time) and University of Pennsylvania Law School LLM Visiting Students. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course will be relevant to the following LLM specialisms: Human Rights Law, Legal Theory, Public Law.

This course has a limited number of places and we cannot guarantee all students will get a place.

Course content

This course takes its cue from the fact that today, more than ever, the constitution plays a major role in regulating the political and social life of the nation. How has this come about? With what political and social consequences? And what have been the implications for contemporary jurisprudence? This course seeks answers to these questions. It pursues this task by examining the emergence in the modern era the constitution as a document of higher-order law and considering the ways in which this understanding has acquired a heightened significance in recent decades. Topics concerned in the course include: the invention of the documentary constitution, the ideology of constitutionalism, emergency powers, constitutional rights, constitutional democracy, constitutional adjudication, constitutional recognition, and cosmopolitan constitutionalism.


This course will have two hours of teaching content each week in Michaelmas Term, either in the form of a two hour seminar or an online lecture and one hour class. There will be a Reading Week in Week 6 of Michaelmas Term.

Formative coursework

All students are expected to produce one 2,000 word formative essay during the course.

Indicative reading

Most of the reading for the course consists of texts available online and  delivered through Moodle. A background text is Martin Loughlin, The Idea of Public Law (OUP, 2003).


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours, reading time: 15 minutes) in the summer exam period.

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Law

Total students 2020/21: Unavailable

Average class size 2020/21: Unavailable

Controlled access 2020/21: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information