Insegnamento a.a. 2016-2017



Department of Law

Course taught in English

Go to class group/s: 23
BIG (6 credits - I sem. - OB  |  IUS/21)
Course Director:

Classes: 23 (I sem.)

Course Objectives

The debate in the United Kingdom on the reform of the House of Lords, the discussion in Italy on abolishing the so-called perfect bicameral system, the Scottish and Catalan Questions, the secession/annexation of Crimea, the Arab Spring, the approval of the much debated Constitution of Hungary in 2011: these events and many more make one realise that there have been some dramatic constitutional developments and legal reforms in recent years.
Employing both the diachronic and synchronic methods of analysis typical of comparative constitutional law, this course addresses topics such as constitutional development and democratisation, constitution-making and constitutional amendment; forms of state and forms of government, federalism, regionalism and devolution, electoral systems and electoral management bodies, the role and functions of constitutional and supreme courts and the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms

Intended Learning Outcomes
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Course Content Summary


What are the obstacles to be overcome when studying the legal system of one country in the language of another?
What are the methods of classification used in comparative constitutional law?
What are the constitutive elements of the State?
How can we classify constitutions?
What are constitutional statutes, ordinary statutes, law decrees, legislative decrees and delegated legislation?

Constitutional Amendment Processes

Should a constitution be easy or hard to amend?
Are frequent amendments to a constitution a sign of strength or weakness in terms of constitutional development?
Can constitutional amendments be... unconstitutional?

Constitutional Development and Democratisation

What do we mean by ‘democratic transition and consolidation’ from a legal and political standpoint?
What is the difference between a ‘formal’ and ‘substantive’ transition?
What do the experiences across the globe tell us about how to draft and frame a constitution?
What are the differences from a constitutional standpoint between democratic transitions today and those of Germany, Italy and Japan after WWII and Greece, Portugal and Spain in the 1970s?

Forms of State and Forms of Government

What do we mean in the context of comparative constitutional law with the expressions ‘form of state’ and ‘form of government’?
Is there a preferred model of government and what are the advantages and drawbacks of ‘institutional transplanting’?
What is preferable: a parliamentary, presidential or semi-presidential executive?

Electoral systems and Electoral Management Bodies

Should we give more emphasis to stability or to representation?
What is preferable: First-Past-The-Post (FPTP), Two-Round Voting Systems (TRV), the Alternative Vote (AV) or systems of Proportional Representation (PR)?
Who controls elections?

Federalism, Regionalism and Devolution

What are the distinguishing features between federalism, regionalism and devolution?
From devolution to the constitutional reform of 2016: has Italy become more centralized?
Is fiscal devolution really the solution for the Scottish Question?

Constitutional and Supreme Courts: composition, role and functions.

Who should be the guardian of the Constitution?
Is it preferable to adopt a centralised or decentralised system of constitutional review?
What role do constitutional courts play in transitions to democracy?
Should constitutional courts be allowed to declare political parties unconstitutional?

Political, economic and civil rights

Should rights and freedoms be enumerated?
How does one balance different rights and freedoms?
What do we mean by multi-level protection of rights

Teaching methods
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Assessment methods
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Detailed Description of Assessment Methods

Students are expected to ensure regular class attendance and to actively participate in class discussions and teamwork. Students are required to orally present a case study (as part of a team) and sit a final in-class exam consisting of 40 multiple choice questions and 1 short essay. Furthermore, students have the option of writing a take-home paper which must be handed in by the end of the semester break (length of up to 3000 words). All classes will be a combination of lectures and discussion.
The final mark will be determined in the light of the group presentation (20%), the final in-class exam (70%), class attendance and class discussions (10%).
Please note that if a student chooses to also write the take-home paper then the final grade will be calculated as follows: group presentation (20%), take-home exam (20%), final in-class exam (50%), class attendance and class discussions (10%).


Attending students

Excerpts from M. TUSHNET, Advanced Introduction to Comparative Constitutional Law, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham–Northampton, MA, 2014

J.O. FROSINI, Forms of State and Forms of Government, in G.F. FERRARI (ed.) Introduction to Italian Public Law, Giuffré, Milano, 2008

J.O. FROSINI, Constitutional Justice, in G.F. Ferrari (ed.) Introduction to Italian Public Law, Giuffré, Milano, 2008

Other readings made available by the instructor during the course through the e-learning space.
Exam textbooks & Online Articles (check availability at the Library)
Last change 20/09/2016 15:14