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In the 21st century there are multiple levels of government, usually with a degree of constitutional protection, in many states across the world; and the numbers are increasing. The forms vary from federations to provincial or regional government to provision for special, usually asymmetrical autonomy. Multi-level government raises a range of conceptual and practical issues that this subject is designed to explore. In all its forms, it involves a departure to some degree from the assumptions and practices of unitary systems. The subject examines these from the perspectives of both design and operation, analysing the similarities and differences between the forms that multi-level government takes. In doing so, it canvasses topics that include democratic representation, the structure and operation of the public sector, the distribution of fiscal resources, the management of natural resources, judicial interpretation and constitutional change.
The two instructors in the subject, Michael Crommelin and Cheryl Saunders, have a wealth of knowledge in the field that is brought together in this innovative subject.
Principal topics will include:
- Forms of multi-level government
- Unitary states compared
- Constitutional frameworks
- Institutional design in multi-level democracies
- Distribution of fiscal resources
- Management of natural resources
- Administration in multi-level government
- Intergovernmental relations
- Judicial interpretation
- Multi-level government and the international legal order
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject will:
- Understand the various forms of multi-level government presently in use and the reasons for them.
- Have a sophisticated understanding of the differences between multi-level government and simple unitary systems and the issues to which these give rise.
- Be able to engage constructively in consideration of constitutional design for multi-level government
- Understand and be able to assist to resolve the challenges of designing and operating institutions in systems of multi-level government
- Have a rich understanding of a series of key issues for multi-level government, including the distribution of fiscal resources, natural resource management, intergovernmental relations, judicial interpretation and the impact of international relations and be able actively contribute to resolve issues that arise.
- Be able to apply comparative method at an advanced level to identify relevant similarities and differences between systems of multi-level government and to draw appropriate conclusions.
Generic skills that will be developed through successful completion of this subject include:
- A capacity to identify, understand and evaluate major new developments in public law
- The ability to think conceptually and analytically about the relationship between institutions in public law
- An appreciation of how principle and practice change over time and the ability to analyse how and why
- Advanced research skills in understanding and explaining institutional arrangements in sufficient detail to be reliable for the purposes of sustaining an argument
- An ability to think creatively about problems and solutions for institutional arrangements in public law
- Skills in the application of comparative method.
Last updated: 2 December 2019