|Assessment Type||Assessment length / details||Proportion|
|Semester Exam||2 Hours||50%|
|Semester Assessment||Essay (2,500 words)||50%|
|Supplementary Exam||2 Hours||50%|
|Supplementary Assessment||Essay (2,500 words)||50%|
On successful completion of this module students should be able to:
1. Provide evidence of a detailed explanation of how the British constitutional system works and be able to critically discuss proposals for reform;
2. Analyse critically the existing system and evaluate strengths and weaknesses;
3. Deal with constitutional legal materials in a critical and analytical manner;
4. Identify and discuss critically problems in the constitutional system and apply detailed knowledge in suggesting possible solutions (for example, with reference to comparative material);
5. Apply critically legal principles to factual situations in order to suggest possible outcomes to cases;
6. Identify and appreciate critically the constitutional law implications of general developments in law and politics, and demonstrate understanding of the relationship between UK constitutional law and European / international law as well as the interaction between central and devolved elements of the constitution;
7. Demonstrate a critical understanding of contextual factors, such as the political dynamics that shape the role and legal powers of the executive;
8. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the judicial review process and its consequences.
Public law is conventionally divided into constitutional and administrative law. The United Kingdom is unusual in that it does not have a written constitution. Whether this has an impact in practice and the way in which the Constitution has adapted and accommodated to changing circumstances are important themes of the course. What this means, why it is the case and whether it makes a difference in practice are among the questions which we look at in this course which seeks to introduce students to the study of constitutional law in general and to the basic doctrines of the British Constitution in particular. Administrative law is concerned with the exercise of state power, and the impact of governmental activities upon the citizen including education, the running of our prisons, planning, transport, welfare benefits system and much more.
1. General introduction to constitutional law: constitutions in general; different types of constitution; the status of constitutional law in relation to other laws within the state; the process of reading and writing constitutions.
2. Introduction to the United Kingdom Constitution: historical background; legal sources of the UK constitution – primary and secondary legislation; prerogative powers, common law; the place of EU law and of international law in the UK system. Non-legal sources of the constitution – constitutional conventions, formation, identification and possible codification; introduction to some human rights issues in the UK.
Tutorial on marking criteria, essays, exams and use of legal sources and citations for Public Law (1 hour whole class)
3. Separation of powers: the meaning and significance of the separation of powers principle; separation of powers and the UK constitutional structure.
4. The Rule of Law: the significance and meaning of the Rule of Law; the Rule of Law in the contemporary UK constitution and its development.
Seminar on the Rule of Law (1 hour x 6 groups)
5. The protection of human rights in the United Kingdom: general issues concerning protection of rights in constitutions – content and status of human rights protection; content and status of the Human Rights Act 1998; examination of particular ECHR rights; ongoing debate about changes to the human rights obligations.
6. The doctrine of Parliamentary Sovereignty: the meaning and significance of the classic doctrine of Parliamentary Sovereignty; Parliamentary Sovereignty in the context of the contemporary UK constitution and its development, including consideration of the impact of accession to the EU and Brexit on the doctrine of Parliamentary Sovereignty.
Seminar on Parliamentary Sovereignty (1 hour x 6 seminar groups)
7. The territorial structure of the United Kingdom and devolution: introduction to the formation of the UK; relevant laws and legal terminology; division of power and structures; devolution in the UK – institutions and powers; federal and unitary characteristics of modern states compared to the UK structure and government.
8. Law-making institutions and processes: legislative institutions; law-making powers and processes; scrutiny of the law-making process.
Workshop on Restriction on Rights under the ECHR (2 hours whole class)
9. Executive power and accountability: Executive institutions; Prerogative power and reserve powers; systems for ensuring accountability for executive action; delegated legislation.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW (12 hours lectures + 2x1-hour seminars)
10. The nature of administrative law and the modern administrative state: identifying the various functions of administrative law; rolling back the frontiers and the rise of New Public Management – the modernization of the Welfare State; privatization, agency creation, contracting out.
11. Introduction to judicial review: the legal basis of the judicial review procedure; what acts can be challenged; who can make a claim; when can judicial review be excluded; remedies.
Seminar on the Role of Audit in the Context of the Administrative State (1-hour x 6 groups)
12. Non-judicial grievance mechanisms: an introduction to the public sector ombudsman system.
13. The role of local government – local government roles and powers; local government as 'service provider' and 'service facilitator’.
Seminar on Judicial Review (1-hour x 6 groups)
|Skills Type||Skills details|
|Application of Number|
|Communication||Preparation for and discussion in seminars (written communication assessed)|
|Improving own Learning and Performance||Post-lecture research and seminar preparation.|
|Information Technology||Post-lecture research and seminar preparation.|
|Personal Development and Career planning||Learning throughout the module will be relevant to a career in the legal profession.|
|Problem solving||Preparation for and discussion of problem-solving questions in seminars.|
|Research skills||Post-lecture research and seminar preparation.|
|Subject Specific Skills||Legal research: use of specifically designed legal databases as a resource for statute and case law.|
|Team work||Seminar work: preparation and group discussion|
This module is at CQFW Level 6