|Delivery Type||Delivery length / details|
|Lecture||Two one-hour lectures per week|
|Lecture||One two-hour lecture per week|
|Seminars / Tutorials||Six one-hour seminars during the semester|
|Assessment Type||Assessment length / details||Proportion|
|Semester Assessment||Assignment: A written assignment of 1,000 words required in week 9||33%|
|Semester Exam||1.5 Hours (no materials permitted)||67%|
|Supplementary Assessment||1000 word assessed essay - if essay element failed||33%|
|Supplementary Exam||1.5 Hours Exam - if failed exam element||67%|
By the end of the module, students should be able to:
Explain how the British constitutional system works and be able to discuss proposals for reform;
Analyse the existing system and evaluate strengths and weaknesses;
Deal with constitutional legal materials in a critical and analytical manner;
Identify problems in the constitutional system and apply their knowledge in suggesting possible solutions (for example, with reference to comparative material);
Apply legal principles to factual situations in order to suggest possible outcomes to cases;
Identify and appreciate 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.
These outcomes will be assessed through examination and written work assignment which have a mix of essay and problem questions and involve having to deal with primary constitutional materials.
In addition to these intellectual skills, students will be able to demonstrate:
Good time-management skills in preparing for seminars and submitting work on time;
The ability to carry out independent research for which credit will be given in the assessments;
The ability to locate and use relevant hard-copy and electronic sources: seminars will require preparation using material from websites;
Ability to work in groups: some of the seminars will run as workshops in which students work in small groups and organise a short presentation together.
It is true that, on the whole, the British Constitution has developed in a gradual way but this does not mean that it has not undergone dramatic change over the years. Indeed, some of the most profound changes have taken place relatively recently with the United Kingdom's accession to the European Community in 1973. More recently still, there have been lively debates on the reform of the House of Lords, on devolution and on human rights. The way in which the Constitution has adapted and accommodated changing circumstances is an important theme of the course. Recent legislation on human rights and on devolution, with particular reference to the National Assembly for Wales, will be examined in detail.
Another important issue which the course examines is the extent to which there are limits on the powers of the Government and Parliament. Is it really true that "Parliament has the right to make any law whatever?" Comparisons will be drawn with the constitutions of other states to explore how constitutions attempt to prevent the abuse of power and we will consider whether similar guarantees exist within the British system.
Students may no doubt be aware of the ongoing debate which takes place in relation to certain institutions of the constitution. How should the House of Lords be reformed? What role should the Monarch play in the constitutional system? How much power should be transferred from Westminster to the devolved legislatures? Throughout the course we will examine those aspects of the Constitution which have been the subject of calls for change and we will consider the proposals for reform which have been advanced by various bodies.
This module aims to introduce students to principles of constitutional law in general and to the British constitutional system in particular to a level which satisfies professional exemption requirements, to encourage independent and critical thought and analysis, to promote skills of group work and to develop skills of independent reading and research.
1. General introduction to constitutional law
2. Sources of the British Constitution
3. The doctrine of Parliamentary Sovereignty
4. The rule of law
5. Separation of powers
6. The territorial structure of the United Kingdom and devolution
7. Law-making institutions and processes
8. Executive power and accountability
9. The protection of human rights in the United Kingdom [much of this topic will be covered in seminars rather than in lectures].
Students are advised not to purchase books prior to the start of the module.
Reading ListRecommended Text
Loveland, Ian (2009) Constitutional Law, Administrative Law and Human Rights 5th ed. Oxford University Press Primo search Turpin & Tomkins (2007) British Government and the Constitution: texts and materials 6th ed. Cambridge University Press Primo search
This module is at CQFW Level 6