Full course description
The course Comparative Government provides an introduction to the constitutional and political systems of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the EU, and to the European Convention on Fundamental Rights and the multi-level landscape (domestic, European and international) of human rights protection. The aim of the course is for students to become acquainted with the basic concepts of constitutional law, the main features of the systems discussed and, at the same time, with overarching concepts of constitutional law. The course devotes attention to the functions of a state, different systems of government, separation of powers, democracy and electoral systems, government-parliament relations, federalism, bicameralism, constitutional review, as well as the issue of fundamental rights and their protection within the above mentioned constitutional systems. The inclusion of the EU also facilitates to focus strongly on the impact the EU has had on the constitutional systems and balances of power within its member states: the multi-layered constitutional orders. In this way the course lays a foundation to grasp the functioning of legal systems and to do so comparatively (comparing legal systems) as well as vertically (how constitutional legal systems sit in the European Union with the consequential reciprocal and mutual influences and impact).
The student knows and understands the most important overarching concepts of constitutional law. (S)he has a good knowledge of the main features of the constitutional systems of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the EU, of the system of fundamental-rights protection within the European states and under the European Convention on Human Rights and the EU-Charter of Fundamental Rights, and of the interplay between national constitutional law and the EU and the EU’s impact on domestic constitutional law. (S)he is able to compare different constitutional systems and draw critical conclusions from the analysis. (S)he has learned to analyze legal documents and to work with constitutional documents and statutory provisions. (S)he has practiced to independently conduct basic comparative research and to present his/her findings orally before his/her tutorial group. (S)he has learned and practised how to apply the acquired knowledge of constitutional concepts and constituional systems as described above to cases and to do so also in the context of multi-layered constitutional systems as visible within the EU and the member-states.
The course does not have any specific prerequisites.
- A.W. Heringa, Constitutions Compared - An Introduction to Comparative Constitutional Law, 5th ed. (Antwerp/Oxford/Portland: Intersentia, 2019, ISBN 978-1-78068-883-1.
- Sascha Hardt & Nicole Kornet, eds, Selected National, European and International Provisions from Public and Private Law: The Maastricht Collection, 6th ed. (Groningen: Europa Law Publishing, 2019), specifically Volumes I, ISBN 978-9-08952-215-3 and II, ISBN 978-9-08952-216-0.
Or, instead of the Maastricht Collection:
- Sascha Hardt & Aalt Willem Heringa, eds, Comparative Constitutional Law Documents, (The Hague: Eleven International Publishing 2019) ISBN 978-9-46236-930-6