Full course description
Comparative Government provides an introduction to the constitutional systems – that is, the rules that govern the main state institutions, the relations between them as well as the legal position of citizens vis-à-vis the state – of the United States, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. In addition, the course introduces the constitutional setup of the European Union and the system of ‘multi-level governance’, as well the European systems of human rights protection. The aim of the course is for students to become acquainted with 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 fundamental rights and their protection within the above-mentioned constitutional systems. The inclusion of the European Union permits a discussion of the impact the EU has had on the constitutional systems and balances of power within its member states, as well as the multi-layered constitutional orders created by EU membership. In this way, the course lays the necessary foundations for understanding the functioning of legal systems. Students learn to actively compare constitutional systems, but also to understand the vertical interconnectedness of these systems in a multi-layer legal order.
- TUTORIAL GROUPS (PBL)
- VIDEO CLIPS AND SELF-TESTS
- PLENARY Q&A SESSIONS
- WRITTEN ESSAY EXAM
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, as well as 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. (S)he has a basic understanding of the interplay between national constitutional law and the EU legal order, as well as of 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 primary legal documents (constitutions, legislation, treaties) and to work with constitutional documents and statutory provisions. (S)he has practised to independently conduct basic comparative research and to present his/her findings orally before his/her tutorial group. (S)he has learned and practised to apply the acquired knowledge of constitutional concepts and constitutional systems as described above to (novel) cases and to do so also in the context of multi-layered constitutional systems as present within the EU and its member-states.
The course does not have any specific prerequisites.
- Aalt Willem Heringa, Constitutions Compared - An Introduction to Comparative Constitutional Law, 6th Edition (The Hague: Eleven International Publishing, 2021).
- Sascha Hardt & Nicole Kornet (eds.), The Maastricht Collection, 7th Edition (Groningen: Europa Law Publishing, 2021), Vols. I & II