Seminar 4: Political and Legal Constitutionalism (with Graham Gee)

Ever since John Griffith delivered his 1979 Chorley Lecture entitled ‘The Political Constitution’, it has been commonplace to describe the British constitution as a political constitution.  In contemporary British constitutional thought, the idea of ‘political constitutionalism’ is often contrasted with so-called ‘legal constitutionalism’.  In this seminar, we will discuss what these terms mean and what light they shed – if any - on the nature of the UK constitution.


*Graham Gee & Gregoire Webber, ‘What is a Political Constitution?’ (2010) 30 OJLS 273-299

*Aileen Kavanagh, ‘British Constitutionalism Beyond Polarities’ (draft paper)


In this seminar series, we will discuss some key topics in comparative constitutionalism, drawing out some of the theoretical questions which underpin them.

The seminars will be led by Aileen Kavanagh and various visiting speakers.  Each seminar will start with a short presentation by each of the speakers, followed by a roundtable discussion.  The seminars will look closely at just two or three readings, mostly from recently published work or work-in-progress by the speakers.  The readings are hyperlinked below so that people can read them in advance and join in the roundtable discussion. 

The seminar is not associated with any particular course or examination, but all are welcome to attend.  The seminar may be of interest to graduate students in the Law Faculty, especially BCL/MJur students taking Constitutional Theory, Comparative Human Rights and Comparative Public Law, or to research students working in the areas of constitutional law, constitutional theory or comparative constitutional law.