Universität Wien

030653 KU Comparative Constitutional Law of the Middle East (2021W)

3.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 3 - Rechtswissenschaften
Continuous assessment of course work


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first served).


max. 28 participants
Language: English


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

Monday 18.10. 15:00 - 17:00 Hörsaal U12 Schottenbastei 10-16, Juridicum, KG1
Tuesday 19.10. 09:00 - 11:00 Hörsaal U15 Schottenbastei 10-16, Juridicum, KG1
Tuesday 09.11. 09:00 - 11:00 Hörsaal U15 Schottenbastei 10-16, Juridicum, KG1
Tuesday 16.11. 09:00 - 11:00 Hörsaal U15 Schottenbastei 10-16, Juridicum, KG1
Tuesday 23.11. 09:00 - 11:00 Hörsaal U15 Schottenbastei 10-16, Juridicum, KG1
Tuesday 07.12. 09:00 - 11:00 Hörsaal U15 Schottenbastei 10-16, Juridicum, KG1
Tuesday 14.12. 09:00 - 11:00 Hörsaal U15 Schottenbastei 10-16, Juridicum, KG1
Tuesday 18.01. 09:00 - 11:00 Hörsaal U15 Schottenbastei 10-16, Juridicum, KG1
Friday 21.01. 13:00 - 15:00 Hörsaal U15 Schottenbastei 10-16, Juridicum, KG1


Aims, contents and method of the course

This course provides a thorough survey of the constitutional orders across the Muslim world in the modern period. Spanning all Muslim-majority states from Morocco to Indonesia, we will explore the transmission of institutional forms and constitutional ideas, examine the diversity of constitutional arrangements, evaluate how effective these arrangements are, and what role religious law plays in the different jurisdictions.
The relative failure of all Muslim states to provide sufficient governance has led to high levels of popular discontent, reflected for instance in the so-called ‘Arab Spring.’ Consequently, existing constitutional arrangements are being challenged, often violently. In this course, you will learn to contextualise these demands, get to know the principal actors, and appreciate the prominent role public law plays in shaping these contests.

Ultimately, the course aims to equip participants to better understand Muslim contemporary discourse about the res publica, better contextualise the demands for religious law in public life, and to better ascertain the theoretical and practical feasibility of postulated religious alternatives to the still-dominant secular model of governance. The course covers each week one sub-region centred on a particularly important country, highlighting the distinct approaches towards incorporating modern state institutions.

Assessment and permitted materials

The grade for this course consists of one written, 48 hours take-home, open-book book exam of maximum 2000 words excluding footnotes (70%) and class participation (30%). The exam is aimed to motivate a renewed engagement with the course material and to cement the retention of the material. Special emphasis will be given to the mastery of comparative approaches.

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

There are no formal prerequisites and no knowledge of Oriental languages is necessary. Jargon is generally avoided and necessary technical terminology will be explained in class.

Note that this course is accompanied by an online component which all students should actively participate in:

For those not familiar with the pedagogy behind blended learning please see

Examination topics

Formal basis for the exam is the literature provided in the syllabus. In addition, it is highly advantageous to be familiar with the content of the companion online course.

The syllabus clearly distinguishes between mandatory and voluntary additional readings; only the former are strictly necessary to pass this course (and do so well).

Reading list

All literature will be in English and is electronically available:


The focus of our readings and discussions lies on the modern period after 1798 – Napoleon’s Egyptian Campaign. We will look at the large body of classical writings on Islamic governance only in so far as they are necessary to understand the contemporary debate. The focus is on the legal and political developments of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Association in the course directory

Last modified: Th 05.05.2022 10:08