CGS213 | Constitutionalism in the Global South

Course Information

  • 2023-24
  • CGS213
  • 5-Year B.A., LL.B. (Hons.), 3-Year LL.B. (Hons.), LL.M., Master's Programme in Public Policy
  • III, IV, V
  • Nov 2023
  • Elective Course

Course overview and prerequisites:

This course will provide students with an overview of the emerging field of Global South constitutionalism. In Western liberal-democratic theory, constitutionalism is associated with judicially enforced constraints on public power as a precondition for open and democratic government.. In the Global South, however, many of the assumptions on which this view of constitutionalism depends do not hold. Rather than neutral frameworks for democratic competition, constitutions in this setting are required to empower the state to transform society in line with an idealised vision of postcolonial justice. This course will provide students with the opportunity to engage with this idea of constitutionalism from the Global South from a range of theoretical perspectives. We will also cover a few specific countries in the Global South whose trajectories of constitutionalism display the variety of issues and experiences that are to be accounted for. The countries that will be the focus of this course include: India, South Africa, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka.

Core themes of the course include the idea of liberal constitutionalism; the critiques of liberal constitutionalism, particularly as they apply to India and South Africa; and the possibility of southern democratic constitutionalism.

The course is designed for LLB, MPP and LLM students. Pre-requisites for this course include core courses on constitutional law. Students in the 3rd year of the 5 year LLB programme as well as students from the 2nd year of the LLB programme are eligible to apply.

Teaching method, class preparation and class participation:

This module will be conducted as a discussion-based seminar. Students are expected to come to class after adequate preparation that enables a robust discussion of the readings. There will no lectures as part of this course: all our time will be spent discussing and debating issues covered in the readings. At the start of each class, I will hold a ‘clarification space’ where I will ask students to ask questions about facts and analysis which requires further elaboration. This course will appeal to those who value ‘teaching by conversation’ and value the insights of their peers studying alongside them.

Since the readings are a pre-requisite for grasping the content of each class, they have been carefully pruned. The hope is that they are accessible, provocative and yet capable of stimulating reflection and debate. Class participation starts before you come to class, with having done the readings and having thought about what seems illuminating and insightful, what seems wrong, and where the authors’ arguments are simply unclear.


Dr. Arun K. Thiruvengadam

Professor of Law