This course explores the nature of constitutional government by studying how the constitutional arrangements of different states – especially Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States – frame and discipline the exercise of public power. The course considers the foundations of constitutional law and practice, the idea of constitutionalism, and constitutional principles including the separation of powers and the rule of law. It also looks at some main questions of institutional design including legislative-executive relations, federalism and devolution, bicameralism and judicial review. The course addresses how constitutions change, how judges (and others) interpret the constitution, and how/if comparative constitutional law itself should inform these processes.

Topics covered include:

  • the political foundations of constitutions
  • types of constitution
  • constitution-making and constituent power
  • sources of constitutional law and practice
  • political vs legal constitutionalism
  • the principle of the separation of powers
  • the principle of the rule of law
  • parliamentary vs presidential systems
  • bicameralism
  • federalism and devolution
  • international law and the constitution
  • amendment
  • constitutional interpretation
  • strong and weak-form judicial review
  • proportionality and rights adjudication
  • statutory interpretation and the constitution.

Professor Nicholas Aroney

Nicholas Aroney is Professor of Constitutional Law at The University of Queensland. He is also a Fellow of the Centre for Public, International and Comparative Law, a Research Fellow of Emmanuel College at The University of Queensland, a Fellow of the Centre for Law and Religion at Emory University and an External Member of the Islam, Law and Modernity research program at Durham University. In 2010 he received of a four-year Future Fellowship from the Australian Research Council to study comparative federalism. He has held visiting positions at Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Sydney, Emory and Tilburg universities. Most recently, he was a Visiting Professor of the Institut Michel Villey at the University of Paris II (Panthéon-Assas) and he will be a Visiting Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Study at Durham University in late 2017.


Course information

Course code

Course profile


This course may also be taken as a CPD course or a non-award course. 

CPD details and applications