LAW 3606 - Comparative Constitutional Law

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2020

This course explores a number of the essential features of the constitutional systems of selected countries and compares them with features of the constitutional systems of other jurisdictions (including Australia). The investigation includes foundational features of constitutions, for example, written/unwritten constitutions, unitary/federal systems, the protection of fundamental rights, the constitutional recognition of indigenous peoples and the separation of powers.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code LAW 3606
    Course Comparative Constitutional Law
    Coordinating Unit Adelaide Law School
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate Law (LLB)
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 3 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange
    Prerequisites LAW 2501
    Restrictions Available to LLB and B.Criminology with B.Laws and BArts Advanced with B.Laws students only
    Course Description This course explores a number of the essential features of the constitutional systems of selected countries and compares them with features of the constitutional systems of other jurisdictions (including Australia). The investigation includes foundational features of constitutions, for example, written/unwritten constitutions, unitary/federal systems, the protection of fundamental rights, the constitutional recognition of indigenous peoples and the separation of powers.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Ms Cornelia Koch

    Contact details and times for consultation will be made available to students on MyUni.
    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    On successful completion of this course, students will be able to:
    1. Undertake self-directed research in comparative constitutional law, analyse and synthesise comparative constitutional law information and materials.
    2. Apply the comparative constitutional law method to complex issues of constitutional reform, and critique the operation of constitutional law from a comparative perspective.
    3. Structure and sustain concise and cohesive written and oral arguments for a legal audience.
    4. Conduct and analyse comparative legal, historical and jurisprudential research and effectively communicate resulting ideas orally and in writing.
    5. Analyse the impact of constitutional law on social issues from a comparative legal perspective and in the context of social and cultural diversity.
    6. Reflect on their ability to effectively undertake work in comparative constitutional law, discuss sensitive issues and share ideas with a broader audience.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    1
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    2
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    3
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    4
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • Able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    5
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
    6
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    This course is taught utilising blended and flipped learning. Students have to watch a set of videos produced for this course and complete formative online quizzes before coming to class. These videos and quizzes will be published on MyUni.

    There is no prescribed textbook for this course. A set of reading materials will be issued to students on MyUni.
    Recommended Resources
    Please see the course site on MyUni for additional resources.
    Online Learning
    Lecture videos and formative quizzes will be made available on MyUni. It is crucial that students watch the videos and complete the quizzes in preparation of the course. The content of the videos will not be repeated in the lecture, but the in-class discussion and activities will be based on prior knowledge of the videos.

    Additional web-links, further resources, assessment, important messages, topic notes, power point slides, case studies and other materials relating to the course will be placed on MyUni.

    You should check the Comparative Constitutional Law MyUni course regularly.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    This course will be taught in a series of interactive classes at which students will discuss, debate and defend their position on foundational features of constitutions individually and in groups.

    Students are expected to attend all of the scheduled classes.

    Class format and classroom etiquette
    Classes are based on large and small group discussion and student presentations. Students are encouraged to interact with each other and the teachers as much as possible.

    Classroom discussions may occasionally grapple with contentious and difficult topics where a range of different views and perspectives are expressed.  As is expected of a legal professional, students should be prepared to introduce, explain and defend their conclusions in the face of probing questions and challenges.  While a lively and spirited discussion is encouraged, students are expected to respect different views and perspectives to ensure that the classroom environment is one where all students feel comfortable to participate.  In order to maintain this environment, it is important that discussions are carried out in the appropriately respectful language, tone and manner.
    Workload

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    Contact time: attend 3 hours of classes each week. This amounts to 36 hours of formal class time across the semester.

    Preparation time: In addition to attending classes, students are expected to do substantial independent work to prepare for classes and to complete the course assignments, including doing the prescribed readings, watching the pre-recorded videos, completing the formative quizzes and preparing for interactive in-class activities.

    The University expects full-time students (those undertaking 12 units per semester) to devote a total of 48 hours per week to their studies.

    Learning Activities Summary
    The course will assemble a Constitutional Convention, tasked with designing a constitution for a new nation. The Convention will debate and recommend the foundational principles on which the new constitution should be based. Convention delegates (i.e. students) are instructed to employ the comparative method, drawing on the constitutional systems of other countries to recommend appropriate approaches for the new constitution.

    The first part of the course (weeks 1-7) will be dedicated to preparing for the Convention. Through class discussion, we will identify appropriate foreign constitutional systems that may assist in designing the new constitution. We will also develop an understanding of constitutional features that can be found in various countries around the world.

    The basic constitutional features and principles that will be considered by the Convention include:

    - Written and unwritten constitutions
    - Unitary and federal systems
    - Protection of rights and freedoms
    - Institutions of government and separation of powers
    - Recognition of Indigenous People(s)
    - Representation of the people
     
    The Convention will be held in the second part of the course (weeks 8-12). Each Convention session will consider one or more basic constitutional features that have been identified in the first part of the course. Students will act in groups as Convention delegates, debate the merits of various foreign constitutional models and ultimately suggest which features and principles would be best suited for the constitution of the new nation.
    Specific Course Requirements
    There are no additional requirements for completion of this course other than described elsewhere in this document.
    Small Group Discovery Experience
    This course does not offer a Small Group Discovery Experience.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment item % of final mark Dates Length Individual or Group Activity? Redeemable? Learning Outcomes
    Participation and Engagement 20% Throughout the semester n/a individual no 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
    Comparative Constitutional Law Briefing Paper 40% Monday of 2nd week of mid-semester break 2000 words (of 6000) individual no 1, 2, 3, 4
    Reflection on the Convention 40% Monday of swot week 2000 words (of 6000) individual no 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
    Word limits: The word limits for the Comparative Constitutional Law Briefing Paper and the Reflection on the Convention are a guide only. Students are permitted to go above or below the word limit without a specific word limit penalty. However, students should keep in mind that succinct and clear writing is crucial for a high quality paper. Therefore, adding more content in a long winded way will lead to a lower mark compared to a paper that focuses on the strongest points and presents its analysis succinctly.
    Assessment Detail
    1. Participation and Engagement (20%)
    Students are expected to participate in and engage with all aspects of this course, in and out of classes. Each student will be part of a delegation to the Convention that consists of a small number of delegates. Effective and engaged participation as a core member of your delegation to the Convention, completion of formative online quizzes, participation in self- and peer-evaluation, attendance at classes, contribution to large and small group class discussion, engagement with briefing materials and completion of all team engagement requirements necessary for written assessment (items 2. and 3. below) are evidence of your engagement with this course and will determine your grade for Participation and Engagement.

    All the out of class activities listed on this page will continue to determine your grade. HOWEVER, attendance at and participation in live online classes will NOT be taken into account. While we are meeting online, it is too difficult to assess this aspect fairly because not everyone is able to use the same technology.However, all other aspects of engagement and participation can be done remotely and your grade will be determined on that basis. Presentations at the Convention debates (whether in person or online) will also contribute to your Participation and Engagement Grade 

    2. Comparative Constitutional Law Briefing Paper (40%)
    Each delegation will complete a Comparative Constitutional Law Briefing Paper that will be circulated to the other members of the Convention. Individual students will be responsible for individual parts of their delegation's Briefing Paper. There is no overall grade for the whole Briefing Paper, but individual parts completed by individual students will be assessed. Individual contributions will be around 2000 words in length. The whole Briefing Paper will be around 6000 words in length. For a good result, delegations will have to work closely together to complete a coherent Briefing Paper.

    3. Reflection on the Convention (40%)
    After the completion of the Constitutional Convention each delegation will prepare a written Reflection on aspects of the Convention. Individual students will be responsible for individual parts of their delegation's Reflection. There is no overall grade for the whole Reflection, but individual parts completed by individual students will be assessed. Individual contributions will be around 2000 words in length. The whole Reflection will be around 6000 words in length. For a good result, delegations will have to work closely together to complete a coherent Reflection on the Convention.
    Submission
    Students will be provided with submission instructions as part of the assessment instructions for each item of assessment which will be made available on MyUni.

    ASSIGNMENT EXTENSION APPLICATION
    Requests for extensions must be made electronically according to law school policy. Extensions will be granted only for unexpected illness, hardship or on compassionate grounds in accordance with University Policy. Work commitments, travel, holidays or sporting engagements are not unexpected circumstances.

    Late Submission Penalties: When an assessment is submitted after the due date, without an extension, 5% of the total mark possible will be deducted for every 24 hours or part thereof that the assignment is late, including each day on a weekend. For example, an essay that is submitted after the due date and time but within the first 24 hour period, and that has been graded at 63%, will have 5% deducted, for a final grade of 58%. An essay that is more than 24 hours late will lose 10%, etc.

    No Word Length Penalties: No specific word length penalties apply to the written assessment in this course. The word limits for the Comparative Constitutional Law Briefing Paper and the Reflection on the Convention set out in the Assessment Summary table above are a guide only. Students are permitted to go above or below the word limit. However, students should keep in mind that succinct and clear writing is crucial for a high quality paper. Therefore, adding more content in a long winded way will lead to a lower mark compared to a paper that focuses on the strongest points and presents its analysis succinctly.

    The suggested word limits set out in the Assessment Summary table above include all words in the text, in headings and in quotations, but exclude citations in footnotes. Any separate cover page, table of contents, bibliography or list of sources is excluded from the suggested word limits.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

    Finality of Assessment Grades

    Students are advised that Course Coordinators will not enter into negotiations of any kind with any student regarding changes to their grades. It is irrelevant, in any given circumstance, that only a minimal number of additional marks are required to inflate a student’s grade for any individual assessment item or course as a whole. Pursuant to the University’s Assessment for Coursework Programs Policyand the Adelaide Law School Assessment Policies and Procedures, grades may only be varied through the appropriate channels for academic review (such as an official re-mark).

    Moderation
    In accordance with the University’s Assessment for Coursework Programs Policy, course coordinators ‘ensure that appropriate marking guidelines and cross-marking moderation processes across markers are in place’ in each course. Procedures adopted by Adelaide Law School to ensure consistency of marking in courses with multiple markers include:
    • assurance of the qualifications of markers, and their knowledge of the content covered in each course;
    • detailed marking guidelines and assessment rubrics to assist in the marking of items of assessment;
    • sharing of example marked assessments at various grade bands across markers;
    • reviewing of selected marked assessments from each marker by the course coordinator;
    • comparison of the marks and their distribution across markers;
    • automatic double-marking of all interim assessment receiving a fail grade, and of final assessments where a student’s overall result is a fail grade;
    • the availability of re-marking of assessments in accordance with Adelaide Law School’s Assessment Policies and Procedures.

    Approval of Results by Board of Examiners
    Students are reminded that all assessment results are subject to approval (and possible moderation/change) by the Law School’s Board of Examiners. Assessment results at the University are not scaled. Under the Assessment for Coursework Programs Policy, students are assessed ‘by reference to their performance against pre-determined criteria and standards … and not by ranking against the performance of the student cohort in the course’. However, under that same policy, the Board of Examiners (as the relevant Assessment Review Committee for courses at Adelaide Law School) is required to ‘ensure comparability of standards and consistency’ in assessment. On occasions, the Board of Examiners will form the view that some moderation is required to ensure the comparability of standards and consistency across courses and years, and accordingly provide fairness to all law students. All assessment results are therefore subject to approval (and possible change) until confirmed by the Board of Examiners and posted on Access Adelaide at the end of each semester.
  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy (http://www.adelaide.edu.au/policies/101/) course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

    Student feedback The course is constantly being updated and revised to reflect the evolution of the law, to respond to student feedback, and to engage with the latest teaching practices. Student feedback is collected each time the course is run, including through SELT reports. Previous SELT reports, and staff feedback on them, are posted on the course MyUni site for students to view and consider.
  • Student Support
    The University Writing Centre provides academic learning and language development services and resources for local, international, undergraduate and postgraduate coursework students enrolled at the University of Adelaide.

    The centre offers practical advice and strategies for students to master reading, writing, note-taking, time management, oral presentation skills, referencing techniques and exam preparation for success at university through seminars, workshops and individual consultations.

    Lex Salus Program
    Lex Salus (law and wellbeing) is an initiative of the Adelaide Law School aimed at destigmatising mental health issues; promoting physical, mental and emotional wellness; building a strong community of staff and students; and celebrating diversity within the school. It also seeks to promote wellness within the legal profession, through the involvement of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of South Australia, the Honourable Chris Kourakis, as the official Patron of the program.

    Students can participate in the Lex Salus program by attending barbecue lunches, pancake breakfasts, knitting and crochet circles, seminars, guest speakers, conferences and other activities. Our Facebook page, website and regular all-student emails promote upcoming events, and have tips and information on wellness.

    Our Lex Salus YouTube channel also includes videos on topics like managing stress, and interviews with LGBTQ lawyers and their supporters which celebrate diversity and individuality. Students who commit to 10 hours of volunteering with Lex Salus in one year can have their service recognised on their academic transcript and through a thank you morning tea with the Chief Justice and law school staff.

    Student Life Counselling Support
    The University’s Student Life Counselling Support service provides free and confidential service to all enrolled students. We encourage you to contact the Student Life Counselling Support service on 8313 5663 to make an appointment to deal with any issues that may be affecting your study and life.
  • Policies & Guidelines

    This section contains links to relevant assessment-related policies and guidelines - all university policies.

    Academic Honesty
    Academic dishonesty is a serious act of academic misconduct. All students must be familiar with the University’s Academic Honesty Policy.

    Academic dishonesty is a serious matter and is treated as such by the Law School and the University. Academic dishonesty (which goes beyond plagiarism) can be a ground for a refusal by the Supreme Court of South Australia to admit a person to practice as a legal practitioner in South Australia.

    Academic honesty is an essential aspect of ethical and honest behaviour, which is central to the practice of the law and an understanding of what it is to be a lawyer.
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.