LLM Programme

The taught modules offered on the LLM programme vary from year to year. Please check the full list of taught modules list for details of modules running in specific academic years. We make every effort to ensure that every module will be offered, but modules are subject to change and cancellation. You are therefore advised to check this site regularly for further updates throughout the year preceding entry to the LLM programme.

Credit value: 15 credits (6 ECTS)
Module Convenor:
Professor Dawn Oliver
Intercollegiate teaching: No
Teaching Method: 10 x two-hour seminars
Who may enrol: LLM students
Prerequisites: None
Barred module combinations: None
Core module for specialism: Public Law, Comparative Law
Practice Assessment: 3,000 word coursework essay
Assessment method for LLM students: 2-hour unseen written examination
Module Overview

Module summary

This ten week module in Comparative Constitutional Law focuses on liberal democracies and how they change. We start by considering what is the point of comparative constitutional law, and the varieties of constitutions which can be compared. We then discuss a range of unitary common law, and unitary civil law constitutions, federations, a nordic system, a former Communist one, and developing countries. Finally we shall return to comparative law methodology and what we can learn from comparisons.

Module syllabus

Seminar 1: Introduction to the comparative method in constitutional or public law
Seminar 2: Liberal democracies, their variety and how they change
Seminar 3: Unitary common law systems: UK, Israel, New Zealand
Seminar 4: Unitary civil law systems: France and Italy
Seminar 5: Federal systems I: Spain, Switzerland, Germany
Seminar 6: Federal systems II: USA, Candada
Seminar 7: Nordic system: Finland
Seminar 8: Former Communist system: The Czech Republic
Seminar 9:Developing countries: India and the Republic of South Africa
Seminar 10: Conclusions on the comparative method.

Recommended materials

How Constitutions Change, edited by Dawn Oliver and Carlo Fusaro, Hart Publishing 2011. This book contains chapters on each of the countries we shall discuss, and two comparative chapters. This will be the course book. In addition students will be advised to read articles and other sources.

Preliminary reading: N/A

Other information

This module would pair well with LAWSG139 Constitutional Theory, and with LAWSG052 UK Constitutional Change (if offered).

Students will be given questions and reading to prepare for each seminar, which will take the form of discussion round the table rather than a lecture by Professor Oliver who guides the discussion.

Students will be invited to prepare presentations to the class on particular countries’ constitutions each week.

About ten students normally take the module, many of them from jurisdictions other than the UK (e.g.in recent years Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, India, Israel, Italy, Korea, USA ). This means that there is plenty of opportunity for participation and contributions from a range of different perspectives, which produce some surprising and very interesting insights from the students.

Prizes for this module: There are currently no prizes available for this module.


The application process for the 2014-15 academic session, for entry in September 2014, is now closed.

Information regarding applications for September 2015 will be updated on the website in September 2014.

IMPORTANT NOTICE : Updated 28 May 2014

The Home Office issued an update about the acceptance of ETS tests (including TOEFL). They have now confirmed that Higher Education students applying for a Tier 4 visa may use a TOEFL test taken after 17 April, if a Higher Education Institution is willing to use its academic discretion. For those students entering in September 2014, UCL will continue to accept the TOEFL even if it was taken after 17 April. However, if an applicant still needs to book a test then we recommend that they take an alternative test to TOEFL. Those who have already arranged to take a different test following the previous advice from the Home Office, we encourage you to go ahead with taking the alternative test.

The TOEFL test will continue to be accepted for 2014 entrants who have been asked to take an English language qualification as part of their offer condition, and do not need to apply for a visa to study in the UK.