Universität Wien FIND

210158 SE M7 b: State Activity, Policy and Governance Analyses: (2013W)

Institutional Design in Western Democracies

8.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 21 - Politikwissenschaft
Continuous assessment of course work

The introductory session is held on Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013 at 17:00; the block seminar is held in the week Nov. 18-22 (Mo, Tu, Th, and Fr.), 9:00 to 17:00 in the seminar room 1090 Wien, Pramergasse 9.
Die Vorbesprechung findet Dienstag, 15. 10. 2013 um 17:00,
der Block in der Woche vom 18.11. bis 22.11.2013 (Mo., Di, Do, Fr.), jeweils von 9:00 bis 17:00 im SE-Raum 1090 Wien, Pramergasse 9 statt.


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


max. 30 participants
Language: English


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

Tuesday 15.10. 17:00 - 18:30 Seminarraum 1090 Wien, Pramergasse 9
Monday 18.11. 09:00 - 17:00 Seminarraum 1090 Wien, Pramergasse 9
Tuesday 19.11. 09:00 - 17:00 Seminarraum 1090 Wien, Pramergasse 9
Wednesday 20.11. 09:00 - 17:00 Seminarraum 1090 Wien, Pramergasse 9
Thursday 21.11. 09:00 - 17:00 Seminarraum 1090 Wien, Pramergasse 9
Friday 22.11. 09:00 - 17:00 Seminarraum 1090 Wien, Pramergasse 9


Aims, contents and method of the course

Constitutional courts are increasingly powerful actors in many democracies and substantively influence political processes and policy outcomes. This block seminar provides an introduction to the political science analysis of such courts in the tradition of the `judicial politics` literature. It addresses four general questions: (1) How are constitutional courts organized? (2) What drives the behavior of constitutional judges? (3) To what extent do constitutional courts affect legislation in Western democracies and does this influence amount to a general judicialization of politics? (4) How can we normatively evaluate the role of constitutional courts in democracies and how is this evaluation influenced by political science findings on the operation of constitutional courts?
On the theoretical level, the seminar first contrasts legal and political science perspectives on analyzing courts. Second, it introduces different political science approaches such as the attitudinalist and rational choice schools in the United States and different approaches used to analyze constitutional courts in Europe. The empirical work covered in the course focuses on the U.S. Supreme Court, constitutional courts in Europe, especially the German Bundesverfassungsgericht and the French Conseil Constitutionnel, and the European Court of Justice.

Assessment and permitted materials

The grades will be based on (1) students’ active participation in class discussions (20%), (2) an oral presentation (30%) and a term paper (50%). Class discussions and oral presentations will be in English; the term paper should also be written in English. Detailed rules will be given in the syllabus. Participants are required to participate in the initial session and all block sessions in order to get credit for the class.

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

Examination topics

Reading list

A detailed list of readings will be provided prior to the seminar. The following texts provide a useful introduction to judicial politics and key issues to be covered:
Segal, Jeffrey A./Harold J. Spaeth. 2002. The Supreme Court and the Attitudinal Model Revisited. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Stone Sweet, Alec. 2000. Governing with Judges. Constitutional Politics in Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Vanberg, Georg. 2005. The Politics of Constitutional Review in Germany. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Association in the course directory

Last modified: Mo 07.09.2020 15:38