Comparative constitutional law (2018/2019)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Matteo Nicolini
Matteo Nicolini
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
1° periodo di lezioni dal Oct 1, 2018 al Dec 14, 2018.

Lesson timetable

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Learning outcomes

The course proposes a critical survey of different constitutional designs and institutes. Among those institutes, it considers constitutional adjudication as one of the main legacies of Western constitutionalism. For this purpose, the course will use the comparative legal method, which is useful in cross-national analyses. In this regard, it proposes classifications of the different models of constitutional review, thus shedding lights on the interrelations between rigidity, enforceability of the constitution and constitutionalism. It then considers cross-fertilisation, as the main form of dissemination of constitutional ideas.
Those attending the course will actively participate in it: during the lectures, the class will discuss and debate the different models for addressing judicial review and examine the most relevant judgements that have contributed in developing the role of supreme and constitutional courts in the protection of the constitutional frameworks (and their principles).
The course also aims to make students capable of assessing the several issues arising in a globalised world, where economic, legal, as well as political factors interact have an impact on constitutional litigation.


The course will be divided into three parts:
1. Comparative method and constitutional law: classifications and models of constitutional adjudication. Political v. judicial review. The French constitutional experience. Constitutional adjudication under Soviet and Islamic constitutions.
The origins of the judicial review: from the English antecedents to the U.S. constitutional history. Concentrated v Diffuse judicial review. Judicial review in common law legal systems. The dissemination of the U.S. model outside the common law realm: Latino-American countries and Portugal. UK and Switzerland. The Kelsenian model and its circulation in Europe. Concrete and Abstract review. Retroactive and Prospective effects of constitutional courts’ decisions.
2. UK constitutional litigation?
2. Judicial Review in Africa.


Students that will attend the lectures must study:
1) Lecture notes;
2) Jo E. Khushal Murkens, “Judicious review: The constitutional practice of the UK Supreme Court,” Cambridge Law Journal, 2018, 1–26;
3) one of the following books:
3a) Charles Manga Fombad, Constitutional Adjudication in Africa (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017): Chapt. 1 e two out of chapts. 1-8;
3b) Matteo Nicolini, L’altra Law of the Land. La famiglia giuridica “mista" dell’Africa australe, Bologna, BUP, 2016 (chapters 1-3).

Students that will not attend the lectures must study:
1) Lucio Pegoraro, Giustizia costituzionale comparata. Dai modelli ai sistemi, Torino, 2015.

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
Charles Manga Fombad Constitutional Adjudication in Africa Oxford University Press 2017 studenti frequentanti: cap. 1 e due a scelta tra i Capp. 2 - 8
Lucio Pegoraro Giustizia costituzionale comparata. Dai modelli ai sistemi Giappichelli 2015 studenti non frequentanti
Matteo Nicolini L'altra Law of the Land. La famiglia giuridica "mista" dell'Africa australe (Edizione 1) Bolonia University Press 2016 studenti frequentanti Capp. 1, 2, 3

Assessment methods and criteria

For students not attending the course, there will be an oral examination; for students attending the course, there will be a written test.

ERASMUS students are invited to contact professor Nicolini ( at the beginning of the course in order to set teaching methods and assessment tests.

Teaching aids