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Module Specifications..

Current Academic Year 2023 - 2024

Please note that this information is subject to change.

Module Title Judges and Judging
Module Code LG5066
School School of Law & Government
Module Co-ordinatorSemester 1: Tom Hickey
Semester 2: Tom Hickey
Autumn: Tom Hickey
Module TeachersTom Hickey
David Lalor
NFQ level 9 Credit Rating 10
Pre-requisite None
Co-requisite None
Compatibles None
Incompatibles None
Coursework Only
Same other than exclusion of oral presentation element

This module explores the role of the judge, and practice of adjudication, in the contemporary constitutional state. It is in three parts: I. Adjudication – in theory and in practice II. Judicial review and democracy – theoretical debates III. The politics of judges and judging – diversity The module aims for depth rather than breadth. Thus we select a limited set of quite particular matters – particular judgments, scholarly debates; institutional arrangements/practices in particular jurisdictions etc. – and explore them thoroughly. The first part, on adjudication, involves analysis of a selection of written judgments in the domain of constitutional law. Based on that analysis, we shall consider questions concerning interpretation, reasoning, and disagreement in adjudication. (Subject to availability, we shall involve Mr Justice John McMenamin, DCU Judge-in-Residence and judge of the irish Supreme Court, in this matter). The second part, on judicial review and democracy, involves analysis of a selection of scholarly debates within constitutional theory. Based on that analysis, we shall consider questions concerning the legitimacy of judicial power, the effectiveness of judges as agents of social change, and related matters. The third part, on the politics of judges and judging, involves analysis of a selection of institutional arrangements and practices (judicial appointments, diversity among judges, judicial discipline, judicial remedies, judicial authority in respect of ‘political questions’, for example) in particular constitutional systems The module is best understood as a weekly scholarly ‘book club’. Students are given a set of reading tasks each week; the seminar is a discussion of that material.

Learning Outcomes

1. describe the structure of a written judgment, and identify the reasoning within it
2. analyse how judges interpret constitutional norms and reason towards an outcome
3. compare and evaluate different approaches taken, and decisions reached, by different judges within the same case
4. analyse and evaluate the role of the judge in a constitutional state, including in respect of questions concerning substantive justice, rights protection, and democratic legitimacy
5. compare and evaluate institutional arrangements or practice across selected jurisdictions in respect of, for example, judicial appointments, judicial training, or judicial remedies

Workload Full-time hours per semester
Type Hours Description
Independent Study75Reading prescribed material in advance of class
Seminars22Attending and participating in 11 x 2 hour seminars
Fieldwork15Preparing and delivering oral and written material for assessment
Assignment Completion20Preparing and delivering written material for assessment
Total Workload: 132

All module information is indicative and subject to change. For further information,students are advised to refer to the University's Marks and Standards and Programme Specific Regulations at: http://www.dcu.ie/registry/examinations/index.shtml

Indicative Content and Learning Activities

Major constitutional judgments: exploration & analysis
Exploration and analysis of small number of specified historical or otherwise useful decisions of Supreme Courts worldwide

Conversations with judges: how do you decide cases?
with Mr Justice John MacMenamin (subject to availability)

Judicial power and democracy, Part I
- the democratic cases for and against judicial review

Judicial power and democracy, Part II
- judicial review and ‘political questions’ - remedies in judicial review

Appointing judges
Diversity, politics, comparative systems

Assessment Breakdown
Continuous Assessment100% Examination Weight0%
Course Work Breakdown
TypeDescription% of totalAssessment Date
ParticipationParticipation – including completion of ‘learning journals’30%n/a
Group presentationOral & collaborative (e.g. recorded discussion)30%n/a
Extended Essay / DissertationAssignment – written, circa 4000 words40%n/a
Reassessment Requirement Type
Resit arrangements are explained by the following categories;
1 = A resit is available for all components of the module
2 = No resit is available for 100% continuous assessment module
3 = No resit is available for the continuous assessment component
This module is category 1
Indicative Reading List

  • 1: 0, Ronald Dworkin, Freedom’s Law: The Moral Reading of the American Constitution (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1996), pp. 1-39, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1
  • 1: 0, Rosemary Hunter, Clare McGlynn, Erika Rackley (Eds) Feminist Judgments: From Theory to Practice (Bloomsbury: 2010). Chs 1, 2, 1
  • 1: 0, Richard Bellamy, Political Constitutionalism (Cambridge UP, 2007),
  • 1: 0, Fiona de Londras, “In Defence of Judicial Innovation and Constitutional Evolution”, in Hickey, Cahillane and Gallen, Judges, Politics and the Irish Constitution (Manchester University Press, 2017),
  • 1: 0, Eoin Daly, “Reappraising judicial supremacy in the Irish constitutional tradition” in Hickey, Cahillane and Gallen (eds), Judges, Politics and the Irish Constitution (Manchester University Press, 2017),
  • 1: 0, Aileen Kavanagh, Collaborative Constitutionalism (2021),
Other Resources

Programme or List of Programmes

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