LAW07064 0000 Constitutional Law and Government

General Details

Full Title
Constitutional Law and Government
Transcript Title
Constitutional and Government
N/A %
Subject Area
LAW - Law
SOCS - Social Sciences
07 - NFQ Level 7
05 - 05 Credits
Start Term
0000 - The Beginning of Time
End Term
9999 - The End of Time
Breda McTaggart, Dr. Leonard Taylor, Deirdre McCaffrey
Programme Membership
SG_GLAWB_H08 202100 Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Law and Business

The aim of this module is to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the institutional structure of the Irish State and its administrative and political governance. This module will examine how the provisions of the Constitution impact the relationship between the different branches of government and its administration. Through close examination of leading cases, the module will provide an opportunity for engagement with the politics of government, the principles of the administration of the public sector and local government, and the functioning of democratic institutions. Tensions between fundamental rights and the common good and the necessity for pragmatism in the practice of government will be explored as we develop our understanding of the role of constitutional law in a modern democracy.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module the learner will/should be able to;


Explore the basic structure and functions of the Constitution in the governance and administration in Ireland.


By completing Continuous Assessment students will be able to explain major developments in Constitutional and administrative law.


Through an oral debate and a written position paper students will be able to appraise and discuss the underpinning of the legal, political and social life of the Irish State.


Examine and express a view on how Constitutional law and/or the Irish administrative and political system can reform and develop in the future.

Teaching and Learning Strategies

The teaching and learning strategy is based on student-centred reflective independent active learning. Delivery of material is by lecture and tutorial with blended learning a feature of the module. Library and computer resources available as appropriate.  

Module Assessment Strategies

Students will engage actively and independently in their learning. Continuous assessment weighted at 100% will allow students the opportunity to reflect critically on an ongoing basis on the various subject matters.  The end of term will conclude with an oral debate with a written position paper on the constitution and politics in Ireland or similar. Feedback provided during the semester.   

Repeat Assessments

Students who fail elements of the module complete repeat assessments in accordance with 'Marks and Standards' policy.   

Indicative Syllabus

  1. The Nation, Government and the organs of state
    1. Overview of the Constitution of Ireland
    2. Separation of powers, the Oireachtas, and the Courts 
    3. Amending, interpreting and reviewing the Constitution
  2. Fundamental Rights in the Constitution
    1. Enumerated rights and unenumerated rights
    2. Socio-Economic rights 
  3. Administrative Law: Principles and Practices
    1. Principles of administrative law
    2. Public sector, accountability and review
  4. The Politics of Government
    1. Political culture and ideology
    2. Political parties and the electoral system
    3. Making policy, and the roll of pressure groups

Coursework & Assessment Breakdown

Coursework & Continuous Assessment
100 %

Coursework Assessment

Title Type Form Percent Week Learning Outcomes Assessed
1 Constitutional law related Continuous Assessment Assignment 30 % Week 4 1,2
2 Continuous Assessment Continuous Assessment Assignment 30 % Week 8 2,3
3 Debate and position paper Practical Performance Evaluation 40 % End of Semester 3,4

Full Time Mode Workload

Type Location Description Hours Frequency Avg Workload
Lecture Not Specified In class learning 2 Weekly 2.00
Tutorial Not Specified Learning activity 1 Weekly 1.00
Independent Learning Not Specified independent learning 4 Weekly 4.00
Total Full Time Average Weekly Learner Contact Time 3.00 Hours

Required & Recommended Book List

Recommended Reading
2018-05 Constitutional Law in Ireland
ISBN 1911611062 ISBN-13 9781911611066

"Constitutional Law in Ireland" is an essential guide to the core principles and provisions of Irish Constitutional Law and is a new addition to the student focused Core Text Series. This book is written primarily for third level students who are covering Irish Constitutional Law as part of their law degree or related studies. Designed and written as an introductory text to the key principles of Irish constitutional law this book covers all the basic aspects of constitutional law, including the following: The constitutional history of Ireland; The concepts of the Nation and State with relation to the constitutional position of Northern Ireland, Ireland in the EU and International Relations; A consideration of the doctrine of the separation of powers, the organisation and powers of the organs of government, including the Oireachtas, the Cabinet, the Courts and the President; Constitutional Rights including Family, Life, Education and constitutional justice; The process of constitutional interpretation, amendment and reform including a consideration of proposed referendums. "Constitutional Law in Ireland" is an excellent introduction to this key area of undergraduate study, and can also be used as an ongoing revision and reference source to provide extra support to students throughout their studies. (Series: The Core Text Series) [Subject: Constitutional Law, Irish Law]

Recommended Reading
2018 Kelly: The Irish Constitution Bloomsbury Professional

Recommended Reading
2013 Constitutional Law of Ireland A&C Black
ISBN 9781847667380 ISBN-13 1847667384

Since the previous edition of this book, changes have taken place with Ireland's Articles of the Constitution, including challenges to the Articles, referenda, new legislation, and judicially-considered cases. This third edition is almost completely re-written as a result of the tumultuous changes in Irish constitutional law. Author Michael Ford - an accomplished constitutional law author and practitioner - offers the reader everything needed to know on this complex subject.

Required Reading
2018-11-29 The Constitution of Ireland Hart Publishing
ISBN 1509903437 ISBN-13 9781509903436

This book provides a contextual analysis of constitutional governance in Ireland. It presents the 1937 Constitution as a seminal moment in an ongoing constitutional evolution, rather than a foundational event. The book demonstrates how the Irish constitutional order revolves around a bipartite separation of powers. The Government is dominant but is legally constrained by the courts, particularly in their interpretations of the fundamental rights protected by the Constitution. In recent decades, the courts have weakened the constitutional constraints on the Government. Political constraints imposed by opposition parties in Parliament and new accountability institutions (such as the Ombudsman) have moderately strengthened but the Government remains by far the most powerful political actor. There is a risk that such executive dominance could lead to democratic decay; however, the referendum requirement for constitutional amendment has prevented Governments from accumulating greater constitutional power. The book begins with an overview of Irish constitutional history leading to the enactment of the 1937 Constitution, before exploring the foundational decisions made by the Constitution in relation to territory, people and citizenship. Particular attention is paid to the constitutional relationship with Northern Ireland, currently unsettled by the decision of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union. The book details the key institutions of state (Government, Parliament, President and courts), before analysing how different constitutional actors exercise their respective powers of governance, contestation and oversight. A thematic approach is taken to the courts' interpretation of fundamental rights, showing how judicial attitudes have markedly changed over time. Further attention is paid to both formal amendment and informal constitutional change. The Constitution today is markedly different from 1937: it is non-committal on national reunification, less influenced by Roman Catholic natural law teaching, and generally more permissive of Government action. It is perhaps these developments, however, that explain its continued success or, at least, its longevity.

Required Reading
2008 Constitutional Law
ISBN 190553616X ISBN-13 9781905536160

Adopting the casebook method, this book both provides an introduction to the general principles and themes in constitutional law and offers a critical insight and analysis that will be challenging to student, practitioner and academic alike.

Recommended Reading
2017-07-31 Constitutional Law
ISBN 0414060970 ISBN-13 9780414060975
Recommended Reading
2000 Constitutional Law in Ireland
ISBN 1899738800 ISBN-13 9781899738809

This text opens with an exploration of the historical background to the Constitution of 1937, and proceeds to examine institutions, functions, rights and the relationship of the Irish Constitution to European and International Law. It has been updated and expanded to include many recent developments in the field. It is an update of cases and legislation since 1992, taking into account the Constitutional Review Group Report and the Belfast Agreement.

Required Reading
01/12/2017 Politics in the Republic of Ireland Routledge

Required Reading
2017-02-13 Political Ideologies Red Globe Press
ISBN 1137606010 ISBN-13 9781137606013

The 6th edition of Andrew Heywoods best-selling undergraduate textbook provides a clear and accessible introduction to the political creeds and doctrines that have dominated and shaped politics around the world. The author offers a clear exposition both of the historical development of each ideology and of the impact it has had on contemporary political behaviour, movements, parties and governments. In recent years, political commentators have heralded a renaissance of popular political ideology, characterised by a resurgence of issues and political traditions that many had thought obsolete. This new edition is updated throughout to take account of these developments, broadening its appeal internationally. The book is particularly relevant for first and second year undergraduate teaching, and can be used to structure a whole course on political ideologies covering traditional ideologies (conservatism, socialism, liberalism, anarchism and fascism) as well as concepts which have developed into concrete ideologies more recently (multiculturalism, feminism and ecologism, amongst others).

Module Resources

Non ISBN Literary Resources

Bunreacht na hEireann - The Irish Constitution 

Journal Resources

The Irish Jurist -

URL Resources
  • www.lawsociety 
  • www.lawlibrary  
Other Resources

Max Planck Encyclopaedia of Comparative Constitutional Law

Oxford Constitutions of the World

Additional Information