LL4Z6      Half Unit
Comparative Constitutional Law

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Professor Jo Murkens


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 has a limited number of places and demand is typically high. This may mean that you’re not able to get a place on this course.

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. LL4Z6 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.

LL4Z6 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 LL4Z6, 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.


This course will have two hours of teaching content each week in Autumn Term and two hours of seminars in Spring Term.

Formative coursework

One 2,000 word essay.

Indicative reading

There is not a set book for this course. All materials will be made available in advance on Moodle.


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

Key facts

Department: Law School

Total students 2022/23: 17

Average class size 2022/23: 18

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

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