Constitutional Problems in Comparison

Subject LAWS70411 (2013)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2013.

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

This subject is not offered in 2013.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: The total class time is between 24 and 26 hours.
Total Time Commitment: Not available
Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
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: None
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 and critique 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 to 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.

Phone: +61 3 8344 6190

Subject Overview:

This subject responds to the increasingly globalised nature of constitutional law by examining significant constitutional questions that recur across various legal systems.

Comparative study of constitutions provides a deeper, more systematic understanding of constitutional law and governance. In particular, it provides opportunities to discover that aspects of one system are not necessarily replicated elsewhere.

The subject will enrich students’ understanding of the constitution with which they are most familiar. It is of practical significance for scholars, advocates and for those involved in the formation and implementation of public law policy and reform.

Principal topics will include:

  • Legislative powers over inter-State trade and taxation
  • Resolving conflicts within federations
  • Proportionality and other methods of judicial reasoning
  • The nature of constitutional rights.

Key decisions of the High Court of Australia will be examined. The principal comparator jurisdictions include Canada, the United States, Germany, South Africa and some European jurisdictions.


A student who has successfully completed this subject will:

  • Have a systematic understanding of different structures of governance through constitutions;
  • Have an enriched understanding of the Australian Constitution; and
  • Have an enriched understanding and critical perspective on competing forms of constitutional governance and methods of constitutional review.

Take-home examination (100%) (30 August–2 September)
10,000 word research paper (100%) (9 October) 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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