Comparative Constitutional Law

Dozenten-innen: Belser Wyss Eva Maria
Kursus: Master
Art der Unterrichtseinheit: Blockkurs
Sprache-n: Englisch
Semester: SP-2022

The course Comparative Constitutional Law offers students the opportunity to deal with foreign constitutional systems and to explore commonalities and differences amongst the constitutions of the world. Comparative constitutional law is inspiring and adventurous and, according to Gunter Frankenberg, a bit like travelling: " The traveller and the comparatist are invited to break away from daily routines, to meet the unexpected and, perhaps, to get to know the unknown". That is the fundamental aim of this course.

The course begins with an introduction to comparative constitutional law which will introduce us to various methodological approaches in this area. In doing so, we will learn about opportunities and pitfalls of comparative law and equip ourselves to examine different constitutional systems. This first methodological part is complemented by an exploratory journey to various constitutional systems.

After this, we will turn to key constitutional concepts and analyse constitutions as doorkeepers between law and politics and as integrative parts of a country’s legal political, economic, social and cultural past and present. This conceptual part is devoted to two institutional features: On the one hand, we will learn about different processes of constitution-making and explore various mechanisms of entrenching fundamental norms and values, guaranteeing rights and stabilising institutions and processes. We will look at different types of constitutions and compare enforcement mechanisms, in particular, constitutional review by courts. On the other hand, we will then look at federalism and decentralisation as a particular type of government and examine to what extend the interlinkages between power-sharing and democracy can contribute to conflict resolution. If time permits, we will conclude this part with a workshop on conflict resolution negotiations and constitutional design.

In the last part we will discuss the constitutional protection of human rights. We will focus on controversial topics, such as reproductive rights, same sex marriages and free speech and examine innovative approaches to the judicial enforcement of socio-economic rights.

Students will work with constitutional texts, court cases and scholarly work, explore a number of comparative constitutional methods and put them into practice. They will present case studies and comparative reports and work in class, individually and in groups.


There will be an oral exam at the end of the course (15 minutes). They can take all documents and personal notes to the exam (open book).


These are the main objectives of the course: (i) students are familiar with comparative working methods; (ii) students know various constitutions and court cases and are able to deal with different legal texts and cases; (iii) students are aware of different human rights concepts and implementation mechanisms; (iv) students are acquainted with different state organization systems and are able to grasp differences and commonalities; (v) students understand the importance of context to constitutional questions and answers.


Documents will be available on moodle. Please register before the beginning of the course (