LLAW2001 Constitutional law

1.1 Course details

Course code: LLAW2001
Course name: Constitutional Law
Programme offered under: LLB Programme
Semester: First
Designated research course: Not applicable
Specialization: Not applicable
Prerequisites / Co-requisites: No
Course offered to non-law students: No
Credit point value: 6 credits

1.2 Course description

Constitutional law is a core component of a legal system. It also constitutes the foundation of a legal system, because it stipulates what are the sources of law in the legal system and how the law is made; it establishes, empowers and constrains the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government; and it regulates the relationship between these organs of government as well as the relationship between the government and the people. From the perspective of the people, constitutional law guarantees and protects their human rights and fundamental freedoms.

In Hong Kong, constitutional law also performs the important function of regulating the relationship between Hong Kong as a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Central Government Authorities of the PRC. Constitutional law in Hong Kong is therefore the legal foundation of ‘One Country, Two Systems’. It is also an area of the law which is often the focus of public and media attention. Constitutional law cases and controversies often appear in the Hong Kong press as frontpage news stories.  The outcomes of constitutional litigation sometimes not only change the lives of the parties to the case, but also have wide and deep impact on the Hong Kong community and its public and social policies, or the political relationship between Hong Kong and mainland China.

Constitutional law is closely related to politics, political philosophy and history. In your previous legal studies, you have already come across aspects of constitutional history and constitutional theory (e.g. in the Law and Society course), as well as some constitutional controversies in Hong Kong (e.g. in the Legal System course). We hope that this course on constitutional law will provide for you the opportunity to study the subject more systematically and intensively. However, as it is only a one-semester course, it can do no more than opening the door for you, so that those of you who are interested in a broader and deeper understanding of the subject may acquire a solid foundation for your future studies in this interesting, exciting and challenging domain of public law.

1.3 Course teachers

Name E-mail address Office Consultation
Course convenor / tutor Albert Chen albert.chen@hku.hk CCT 309 By email
Course convenor / tutor Po Jen Yap pjyap@hku.hk CCT 510 By email
Course tutor Brian Fan TBA N/A By email
Course tutor P Y Lo pylo@lopyhk.page N/A By email
Course tutor Gilbert Mok usermok@connect.hku.hk N/A By email
Course tutor Allison Wong allisonwongwy@gmail.com N/A By email
Course tutor Geoffrey Yeung gyeung@dcc.law N/A By email
Course tutor Richard Yip richardyip@outlook.com N/A By email

2.1 Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs) for this course

CLO 1 Explain the history and development of constitutionalism in Hong Kong, dating back from its colonial roots till its current unique status within the “One Country, Two Systems” Framework.

CLO 2 Describe the functions and operations of the key branches of government in Hong Kong and their relationship with one another.

CLO 3 Analyze the major constitutional and electoral reforms in Hong Kong in the course of its democratization.

CLO 4 Evaluate the nature of Hong Kong’s autonomy and of the constitutional relationship between Hong Kong and the Central Authorities in Beijing.

CLO 5 Identify and critically comment on the constitutional issues in the key Basic Law cases decided by the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal and the lower courts, and to synthesize and apply the legal principles to hypothetical fact scenarios.

CLO 6 Acquire skills in reading constitutional law cases, and, in particular, in identifying the relevant issues, understanding the arguments of counsel, critically assessing the reasoning of the judge(s), articulating alternative lines of analysis, and critically evaluating the decision and the effect of the case upon the development of constitutional law doctrine.

CLO 7 Explain the manner of application of key international human rights instruments in Hong Kong, in particular, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

2.2 LLB Programme Learning Outcomes (PLOs)

PLO A Demonstrate a solid understanding of the body of legal knowledge and the capacity to critically analyse and evaluate legal principles and arguments, at a level required to meet the standards and expectations of the legal profession and the community at large.

PLO B Apply the knowledge, lawyering skills and legal reasoning to real situations in life, with a view to resolving issues, problems and disputes within the legal parameters.

PLO C Appreciate the underlying values of the law and the legal system in the broad social, economic, political and cultural contexts: justice, the Rule of Law, and protection of rights and liberties which form the fabrics of a civilised society, and the importance of upholding these values by the legal community.

PLO D Appreciation of the differences in laws and legal systems among different political, social and cultural environments, and develop a comparative understanding of the different legal systems, legal ethos and legal cultures among the various jurisdictions.

PLO E Ability to present effectively legal arguments in the professional context, as well as conveying and explaining the law effectively to lay clients and members of the larger community

PLO F Strong awareness of social issues and conditions, and utilise analytical abilities and rhetorical advocacy for the betterment of the human community.

2.3 Programme Learning Outcomes to be achieved in this course

PLO A PLO B PLO C PLO D PLO E PLO F
CLO 1  ✓
CLO 2  ✓  ✓  ✓
CLO 3  ✓  ✓  ✓
CLO 4  ✓  ✓  ✓
CLO 5
CLO 6
CLO 7

3.1 Assessment Summary

Assessment task Due date Weighting Feedback method* Course learning outcomes
Take home essay 4 Nov 2020 33% 1 or 5 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Take home final exam 18 Dec 2020 67% 1 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
  *Feedback method (to be determined by course teacher)
1 A general course report to be disseminated through Moodle
2 Individual feedback to be disseminated by email / through Moodle
3 Individual review meeting upon appointment
4 Group review meeting
5 In-class verbal feedback

3.2 Assessment Detail

To be advised by course convenor(s).

3.3 Grading Criteria

Please refer to the following link: http://www.law.hku.hk/course/grading-criteria/

4.1 Learning Activity Plan

Lecture: 2 hours / week for 11 teaching weeks
Tutorial: 2 hours every two weeks for 10 weeks
Private study time: 9.5 hours / week for 12 teaching weeks

Remarks: the normative student study load per credit unit is 25 ± 5 hours (ie. 150 ± 30 hours for a 6-credit course), which includes all learning activities and experiences within and outside of classroom, and any assessment task and examinations and associated preparations.

4.2 Details of Learning Activities

To be advised by the course convenor(s).

5.1 Resources

Reading materials: Reading materials are posted on Moodle
Core reading list: TBA
Recommended reading list: Highly recommended:

  • Johannes M. M. Chan & C. L. Lim (eds), The Law of the Hong Kong Constitution (Sweet & Maxwell, 2nd Edition 2015) – Relevant parts of this book will be prescribed reading but they will not be provided in the Course Materials on Moodle. We therefore highly recommend that you buy a copy.

Recommended for reference:

  • Johannes M. M. Chan, H.L. Fu & Yash Ghai (eds), Hong Kong's Constitutional Debate: Conflict Over Interpretation (HKU Press, 2000)
  • Yash Ghai, Hong Kong’s New Constitutional Order: The Resumption of Chinese Sovereignty and the Basic Law, 2nd edn (HKU Press, 1999)
  • Danny Gittings, Introduction to the Hong Kong Basic Law (HKU Press, 2013)
  • Po Jen Yap, Constitutional Dialogue in Common Law Asia (OUP, 2015)

5.2 Links

Please refer to the following link: http://www.law.hku.hk/course/learning-resources/

By the publication of the course profile online, the Faculty deems the student as having been notified of the course requirements.