Module Catalogue 2024/25

LAW1220 : Constitutional Law

LAW1220 : Constitutional Law

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Colin Murray
  • Lecturer: Professor Kathryn Hollingsworth
  • Owning School: Newcastle Law School
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System

Modules you must have done previously to study this module

Pre Requisite Comment



Modules you need to take at the same time

Co Requisite Comment



The module introduces students to the underlying principles and structures of the UK Constitution. The central aims are:

1. To acquire knowledge and understanding of the general principles of Constitutional Law set within a wider context of politics, and political theory.

2. To develop critical and legal analytical skills in relation to the UK Constitution.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module will address the following topics:

• Constitutional values in a liberal democracy
• Institutions of Central Government in the UK
• Parliamentary supremacy
• Parliamentary Accountability
• The rule of law
• The separation of powers

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

Students will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

1. The main principles of constitutional law and the operation of parliamentary government.

2. The political theory background against which constitutional law operates.

3. The role of the courts in constitutional law.

4. The interrelationship between parliamentary supremacy, parliamentary accountability, the rule of law and the separation of powers

Intended Skill Outcomes

Subject specific skills:

1. Ability to evaluate and deploy valid and cogent arguments on both sides of controversial issues.

2. Ability to write and speak with care and precision.

3. Ability to distinguish between legal and political sources, to retrieve accurate and relevant legal and other sources in primary and secondary form both in paper and digital formats.

4. Ability to identify relevant issues, reason by applying relevant concepts, principles and rules, identify evidence needed, make judgements and reach supported conclusions (legal problem-solving).

Cognitive skills:

1. Analysis; Identifying and ordering issues by relevance and importance.

2. Synthesis; Drawing together materials from diverse legal and other sources.

3. Critical judgement; Discerning between the merits or otherwise of legal, political and philosophical arguments.

4. Evaluation; Making a reasoned choice between competing solutions or arguments.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture281:0028:00In person lectures on substantive content (FLEX: can be synchronous or non-synchronous)
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials21:002:00Feedback sessions - essay and examination
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion421:0042:00Independent study: supplementary
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching41:004:00Synchronous small group ‘seminar’ sessions.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery31:003:00In person Q&A. FLEX: can be synchronous online if necessary
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1211:00121:00Independent study: supplementary
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures aim to provide an overview of the background and main principles, examples of reasoning methods, and an introduction to the main controversial issues.

Seminars (small group teaching) provide the opportunity to develop oral, analytical and critical skills. Discussion is structured to consider questions which focus on key principles and problem areas. Some questions will use problem style questions, providing opportunities for group-based in-depth skills and knowledge development in relation to the application of the law to complex factual scenarios. Other questions will focus discussion around debate propositions or essay style statements. Students will also develop skills in reading and summarising key constitutional law cases. These components will provide formative practice opportunities ahead of the summative assessments. There will be four one-hour small group sessions during the semester. All seminars will be synchronous events (whether online or present-in-person).

Feed-forward and Drop-in sessions will represent additional contact time. These sessions are opportunities for students to ask broader questions about the module content or to seek additional feed-forward guidance in relation to assessments. This reflects the Law School assessment and feedback policy such that markers will offer the opportunity for one-to-one oral feedback on students' assessed work.

Independent Study is to be divided between preparing for lectures and seminars, consolidation and revision.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination14401A7024hr take-home exam. Answering 2 questions from a choice of 5, cap of 1000 words (+/-10%) per answer.
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1M301500 word written assessment drawing on seminar exercises
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The summative assessment is comprised of a take-home examination (70%) and a written exercise (30%). Together these assessments provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of a broad range of topics across the syllabus.

Students are required to produce a 1500 word essay that requires them to draw on cases or articles from three of the four rounds of seminars. These exercises hone study skills and encourage engagement with primary source materials and academic articles, which are discussed in the seminar. This process of preparation and honing encourages good study practices and that students will have a level of preparation to draw upon in seminars.

The final examination requires students to answer two questions from a choice of five. This exam format requires a broad understanding of the module and engages critical, analytical and evaluative skills, as well as the ability to write with care and precision in a time-limited context. This major end-of-module assessment is necessary in LAW1220 given the nature of the material as a web of interlinked principles which can only be understood as a whole. This assessment format also allows students to draw upon their materials in preparing an answer, with marshalling of materials being a key legal skill. In this format an emphasis can be placed on deep engagement with the question. The broad choice of questions and time frame removes some of the pressures associated with question choice in an exam hall context. This format and weighting ensures students have a mix of assessments through stage one and thus preparing them for stage two.

Students are not required to undertake a formative assessment, but structured seminar activities have been designed to focus on the skills development necessary for the summative work.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


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The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2024 academic year.

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