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.

Professor Aroney has published over 100 books, journal articles and book chapters in the fields of constitutional law, comparative constitutional law and legal theory. He has led several international research projects in comparative federalism, bicameralism, legal pluralism, and law & religion, and he speaks frequently at international conferences on these topics. His most notable publications in these fields include: The Constitution of a Federal Commonwealth: The Making and Meaning of the Australian Constitution (Cambridge University Press, 2009), Shari'a in the West (Oxford University Press, 2010) (edited with Rex Ahdar), The Future of Australian Federalism (Cambridge University Press, 2012) (edited with Gabrielle Appleby and Thomas John), The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia: History, Principle and Interpretation (Cambridge University Press, 2015) (with Peter Gerangelos, James Stellios and Sarah Murray) and Courts in Federal Countries (Toronto University Press, 2017) (edited with John Kincaid).

He is currently working on a monograph entitled Federal Constitutionalism: Theory, Principle and Practiceand an edited volume entitled Christianity and Constitutionalism for Cambridge University Press (with Ian Leigh).

Professor Aroney is a former editor of The University of Queensland Law Journal (2003-2005) andInternational Trade and Business Law Annual (1996-1998), and a past secretary of the Australian Society of Legal Philosophy. He is a past member of the Governing Council and the current Queensland Convenor of the Australian Association of Constitutional Law. He is also a member of the editorial advisory board of Public Law Review and International Trade and Business Law Review. He has made numerous influential submissions to government inquiries and in 2013 undertook a review of the Crime and Misconduct Act for the Queensland Government with the Hon Ian Callinan AC QC, a former Justice of the High Court of Australia.

Professor Aroney joined the Law School in 1995 after working with a major national law firm and acting as a legal consultant in the field of building and construction law.

Course information

Course code

Wed 2-4pm, Wks 2-13


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