Constitution Making

Subject LAWS70269 (2012)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2012.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 7 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2012:

March, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: The total class time is between 24 and 26 hours.
Total Time Commitment: Not available




Recommended Background Knowledge:

Applicants without legal qualifications should note that subjects are offered in the discipline of law at an advanced graduate level. While every effort will be made to meet the needs of students trained in other fields, concessions will not be made in the general level of instruction or assessment. Most subjects assume the knowledge usually acquired in a degree in law (LLB, JD or equivalent). Applicants should note that admission to some subjects in the Melbourne Law Masters will be dependent upon the individual applicant’s educational background and professional experience.

Non Allowed Subjects:


Core Participation Requirements:

The Melbourne Law Masters welcomes applications from students with disabilities. The inherent academic requirements for study in the Melbourne Law Masters are:

  • The ability to attend a minimum of 75% of classes and actively engage in the analysis of complex materials and debate;
  • The ability to read, analyse and comprehend complex written legal materials and complex interdisciplinary materials;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate in writing a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate orally a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to work independently and as a part of a group;
  • The ability to present orally and in writing legal analysis to a professional standard.

Students who feel their disability will inhibit them from meeting these inherent academic requirements are encouraged to contact the Disability Liaison Unit:


For more information, contact the Melbourne Law Masters office.

Email or phone +61 3 8344 6190.

Alternatively, visit our website:

Subject Overview:

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 Kenya, Timor Leste, Nepal, Fiji and Iraq. The lecturers are constitutional scholars with practical experience in the field that adds to the excitement and relevance of the subject.

Principal topics will 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 South Africa, East Timor, Fiji, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Indonesia, Swaziland, Solomon Islands, Kenya and Pakistan.

A student who has successfully completed this subject should:

  • Understand and be able to maximise the role that constitutions can play in conditions of development, transition of various kinds and conflict resolution
  • Be aware of, and able to evaluate, the relevance of a range of potential influences on constitutional design in circumstances of development and transition
  • Be aware of, and able to critically choose between, substantive constitutional mechanisms to meet particular goals and resolve particular problems
  • Understand 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
  • Be able 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.

Take-home examination (100%) (12 pm 25 May to 5 pm 28 May)


10,000 word research paper (100%) (25 June) on a topic approved by the subject coordinator

Prescribed Texts:

Core subject materials will be provided free of charge to all students. Some subjects require further texts to be purchased. Visit the Melbourne Law Masters website for more information about this subject.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Links to further information:

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