Canadian Constitutional Law

The details
Essex Law School
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 6
Thursday 03 October 2024
Friday 13 December 2024
13 March 2024


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

This module offers an introduction to Canadian Constitutional Law, shedding light on the unique composition of Canada’s constitutional framework and how it is shaped and interpreted by political and legal institutions within a multicultural society. It serves as a comparative lens to understand constitutional frameworks, drawing parallels with the USA and other Common Law nations. The module underscores the unique history and characteristics of Canada’s federal state and constitutional system, illustrating their relevance both as independent subjects of study and as comparative models in constitutional studies.

A principal aspect of the module is the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, recognised for its influential role in shaping legal thinking in the UK and other Commonwealth countries. The module also navigates through the foundational aspects and sources of the Canadian Constitution. It explores the distinctive trajectory of Canada's constitutional arrangements and the rich Canadian constitutional literature, which has played a pivotal role in international constitutional discourse.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To introduce students to the developments of constitutional law in Canada, and its application through political institutions and the courts.

  • To introduce students to concepts of federalism and self-determination.

  • To provide students with an understanding of how constitutional law in Canada brings cohesion in a multicultural and multilinguistic society.

  • To enable students to develop their comparative skills between different common law jurisdictions.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able to demonstrate:

  1. Understanding of the historical evolution, sources and principles of Canada’s constitution

  2. Understanding of the interplay between individual and collective rights, including indigenous peoples’ rights

  3. Ability to critically engage with relevant legal concepts, values, principles explaining the relationship between these concepts in a number of areas, including the nuances of Canada's federal governance and parliamentary democracy.

Module information

There are no specific pre-requisites for studying this module, however students will benefit from studying LW103 and LW209.

The topics covered include:

  • The historical evolution of the Canadian Constitution

  • Rule of law and the Separation of powers

  • The Supreme Court of Canada as a Constitutional Court

  • The Constitution Acts of 1867 and 1982

  • Federalism and Provincial Powers

  • The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

  • Indigenous Rights

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be delivered via:

  • One 2-hour seminar per week

Students are expected to undertake the reading before classes and be prepared to engage in discussion.



Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
No lecture recording information available for this module.


Further information
Essex Law School

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