LL408E      Half Unit
Comparative Constitutional Law

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Jo Murkens CKK.7.31


This course is available on the Executive Master of Laws (ELLM). This course is not available as an outside option.

Available to Executive LLM students only. This course will be offered on the Executive LLM during the four year degree period. The Department of Law will not offer all Executive LLM courses every year, although some of the more popular courses may be offered in each year, or more than once each year. Please note that whilst it is the Department of Law's intention to offer all Executive LLM courses, its ability to do so will depend on the availability of the staff member in question. For more information please refer to the Department of Law website.

Course content

Comparative Constitutional Law is a rejuvenated discipline that attracts a broad range of interdisciplinary interest in the formation, design, and operation of constitutions. LL408E examines the central issues across a range of jurisdictions and from a variety of perspectives. In Part I, we will discuss the idea of comparative law as a legal discipline with its own distinctive method as well as the transnational transfer of constitutional ideas and ideologies. Part II deals with key constitutional concepts, in particular the historical origins of fundamental law, constituent power, constitutional change, and the rule of law. Part III deals with questions of constitutional design, with a special focus on constitution-making in deeply divided and authoritarian societies.

LL408E offers a rich historical and conceptual account of the origins of Western constitutional ideas. It also examines their contemporary meaning and application in non-Western contexts. In so doing, the course develops its own critique of mainstream liberal thought that idealises constitutions as normative constraints on politics or essentialises the concept of constituent power in constitutional theory. We will ask whether formal constitutions facilitate democratisation and political change or whether they undermine democracy and entrench the ruling elite. The study of law, like the study of all social phenomena, is always comparative and inevitably fragmented. In LL408E, we will not be comparing, doctrinally and systematically, the constitutional codes of different legal orders. Instead, the objective of the course is to study comparative constitutional law comprehensively, critically, and contextually. This approach enables the student to deepen their understanding of law as a method and to connect that understanding independently to other disciplines.


24-26 hours of contact time.

Formative coursework

Students will have the option of producing a formative exam question of 2000 words to be delivered one month from the end of the module’s teaching session by email.

Indicative reading

There is no set book for this course. All materials will be made available in advance on Moodle.


Assessment path 1
Essay (100%, 8000 words).

Assessment path 2
Take-home assessment (100%).

Key facts

Department: Law School

Total students 2022/23: Unavailable

Average class size 2022/23: Unavailable

Controlled access 2022/23: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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.

Personal development skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills