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Constitution Making (LAWS70269)

Graduate coursework level 7Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2018
Subject levelGraduate coursework Level 7
Subject codeLAWS70269
Availability(Quotas apply)
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

More than 90 new constitutions have been made for countries across all regions of the world since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Currently, constitution-making is actively underway in a range of states and pending in others. This concentrated burst of activity has given rise to a range of new ideas about the nature and purpose of constitutions, constitutional solutions to contemporary problems, the processes of constitution-making and the proper role of international actors. This subject explores these issues, with particular reference to a series of topical case studies, including Fiji, Iraq, Kenya, Nepal, Timor-Leste and Yemen. The lecturers are constitutional scholars with practical experience in the field who add to the excitement and relevance of the subject

Principal topics include:

  • Nature, functions and limitations of constitutions
  • Circumstances in which constitutions are likely to be renewed or substantially changed
  • Influences on new constitutions
  • Substance of constitutions
  • Phases of constitution-making:
    • Peace process (if any)
    • Setting the agenda
    • Design and writing
    • Approval and adoption
    • Implementation
    • Interpretation
    • Selected case studies drawn from Egypt, Fiji, Indonesia, Iraq, Kenya, Pakistan, the Philippines, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tunisia, Yemen and Zimbabwe among others.

Intended learning outcomes

A student who has successfully completed this subject will:

  • Have an advanced and integrated understanding of constitution-making processes and constitutional development and be able to apply this understanding in diverse contexts
  • Understand and be able to maximise the role that constitutions can play in conditions of development, transition of various kinds and conflict resolution
  • Have an advanced understanding of the theoretical problems that arise in constitution making and their implications for the practice of constitution-making
  • Be aware of, and able to critically interpret, analyse and evaluate, the relevance of a range of potential influences on constitutional design in circumstances of development and transition, including international influences
  • Be aware of, and able to critically choose between, substantive constitutional mechanisms to meet particular goals and resolve particular problems
  • Have a sophisticated understanding of the phases of constitution making, the issues likely to require resolution in each phase and the options for dealing with them
  • Understand the practical experience of past attempts at constitution making in selected countries
  • Have the cognitive and technical skills to actively develop options and strategies for the process of constitution making and the substance of new constitutional provisions, in the circumstances of other countries in development or transition
  • Be able to demonstrate and apply expertise in the field of constitution-making and constitutional process design
  • Be able to be an engaged participant in contemporary and emerging debates regarding constitution-making including choice of institutions, public participation, inclusion including the inclusion of women and other marginalised groups, structure of the state, rights and territorial arrangements.

Last updated: 20 October 2018