Aims of the Course
- Students must be able to critically reflect on, and apply basic and complicated constitutional law constructs and concepts of European and other national legal systems using the comparative method.
- Students will in particular develop the ability to investigate and assess the characteristics of written/codified and unwritten/uncodified constitutions, the concepts of constitutionalism, constitutional identity and the separation of powers.
- After having been introduced to these constitutional law fundamentals, students will be encouraged and required to study, interpret, compare, evaluate and synthesise particular elements of constitutional law. (See the content section for more details.)
- Students will be pointed to examples of practical and theoretical overlap between the various questions and challenged to explain and comment on such overlap (such as the relationship between federalism and the introduction of constitutional review by the judiciary).
- Students must be able to critically relate current national and international events to relevant constitutional concepts.
- Although the questions in the written exam will be posed in English, students may choose to answer the questions in English or Dutch. Students may also choose to take the oral exam in English or Dutch.
- All lectures and prescribed material will be in English only.
- Students who want to follow the course entirely in English are therefore more than welcome to enroll, as are students who want to answer the exam questions in Dutch.
- Basic knowledge of constitutional law, political systems, public law institutions, legal protection of citizens against government.
The course consists of ten lectures and will be concluded with a paper and an examination. The paper involves a comparison of two or more legal systems on a point of constitutional law. The content of the course covers various topics in getting to grips with comparative constitutional law, including:
- Functions and characteristics of terms such as 'constitutional law', 'constitutionalism' and 'constitutional identity'.
- Constitutional change analysed as 'chance' or 'grand design'.
- Comparative law and its methodology as applied to constitutional issues.
- Forms of state. Analysing the separation of powers in federations and unitary states (as applied to the accommodation of cultural groups).
- Forms of government. Analysing the separation of powers in presidential and parliamentary systems (as also applied to the accommodation of cultural groups).
- Constitutional review. What power does/should the courts have in comparison to parliamentary democracy when controlling compliance with the constitution?
- Structuring judicial review. How can courts and their powers be designed in exercising judicial review?
- Freedom of religion. Studying important case law of the European Court of Human Rights related to the right to freedom of religion.
- Relationship between state and religion. How can the separation/interaction between the state and religion be conceptualised?
- Role of national constitutional identity in the discourse about the primacy of EU law over national law.
- Debate between whether the European Court of Human Rights should focus on individual justice or constitutional justice when deciding cases.
In analysing these topics and questions, particular attention will be paid to the constitutional law of European jurisdictions (such as Germany, France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom), and to other jurisdictions (such as India, South Africa and the United States of America), where appropriate.
Type of Instruction
Written Exam (75% of the final mark). The re-exam will be an oral exam.
Type of Exams
Paper (25% of the final mark).