Universität Wien FIND

Return to Vienna for the summer semester of 2022. We are planning to hold courses mainly on site to enable the personal exchange between you, your teachers and fellow students. We have labelled digital and mixed courses in u:find accordingly.

Due to COVID-19, there might be changes at short notice (e.g. individual classes in a digital format). Obtain information about the current status on u:find and check your e-mails regularly.

Please read the information on https://studieren.univie.ac.at/en/info.

030654 KU Emergency Laws in Comparative Perspective (2020W)

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

Sessions will meet Tuesdays, Thursday and Saturdays 15:00-18:00 between 3-14 November 2020.

All materials can be downloaded here:

Tuesday 03.11. 15:00 - 18:00 Hörsaal U15 Schottenbastei 10-16, Juridicum, KG1
Thursday 05.11. 15:00 - 18:00 Hörsaal U15 Schottenbastei 10-16, Juridicum, KG1
Saturday 07.11. 15:00 - 18:00 Hörsaal U15 Schottenbastei 10-16, Juridicum, KG1
Thursday 12.11. 15:00 - 18:00 Hörsaal U15 Schottenbastei 10-16, Juridicum, KG1
Saturday 14.11. 15:00 - 18:00 Hörsaal U15 Schottenbastei 10-16, Juridicum, KG1


Aims, contents and method of the course

Do exceptional times require exceptional measures? And if so, how can we limit the inevitable damage to the ordinary legal and political system? These old constitutional questions are often conflated with the recent phenomenon of global terrorism, but they pertain to a much broader set of threats to the integrity of state and society, from global health crises, natural disasters, war, economic collapse to, more controversially, migration and related issues.

This course offers a broad historical and geographic overview of the concept of emergency laws from the Roman republic to contemporary times, and from liberal democracies to autocracies. Perhaps counter-intuitively, explicit emergency laws are not the prerogative of (Western) liberal constitutional democracies, but can be found and are taken seriously by decision-makers in very different types of states. Balancing rights, procedural safeguards and freedom with security in order to better respond to existential threats turns out to be a fairly universal functional challenge of any effective state.

In order to better understand how the State can or should respond to international terrorism and other security threats we will examine different theories of emergency powers, illustrated by international case studies of exceptional crises. Furthermore we will examine how different responses to exceptional security threats have challenged liberal concepts of democracy and the rule of law and, in some cases, international human rights law. This underlying balancing is contrasted with the similar but distinct calculation occurring in non-liberal entities.

Assessment and permitted materials

The grade for this course consists of one written, two-day 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. Special emphasis will be given to the mastery of comparative approaches.

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

There are no linguistic or disciplinary prerequisites, all material is in English, necessary terms will be explained in class and a glossary provided.

Examination topics

Formal basis for the exam is the literature provided in the syllabus., which 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 materials are in English and will be electronically provided.

The course will focus on theoretical readings about emergency powers, together with statutes, court judgments, and historical accounts of extraordinary events. Case studies will include the United States, Germany, Japan, France, China, Iran, East Timor, Thailand, Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan, Sweden, Argentina, and others in passing.

Association in the course directory

Last modified: Fr 06.05.2022 00:15