Course 2019-2020 a.y.


Department of Law

Course taught in English
Go to class group/s: 31
WBB (6 credits - I sem. - OBCUR  |  IUS/05)
Course Director:

Classes: 31 (I sem.)

Suggested background knowledge

For a fruitful and effective learning experience, it is desirable for students to follow political and legal developments by regularly consulting news media outlets throughout the duration of the course. No previous knowledge is required.

Mission & Content Summary


The State plays a key role in the global economy. Through legislation, regulation, judicial decisions and international agreements, States have a pervasive impact on the behavior of both firms and individuals. The stability of governments and constitutional settings, the role of Courts in protecting individual rights and of Public Administrations in providing public services, regulation of markets and economic activities are key variables to be considered when doing business. These variables are heavily dependent on different forms of government and constitutional traditions. For these reasons, the comparative and contextual study of public law makes a key contribution to a business degree combined with a liberal arts education such as the WBB program. The focus of the Course is comparative and transnational. While mostly addressing liberal democracies in Europe and North America, it also considers key constitutional developments in Asia, Latin America and the former Soviet Bloc, including experiences of illiberal constitutionalism. Ample space is also devoted to supranational organizations, mostly the EU. The course wishes to provide students with tools to understand how government functions and decipher complex and diverse regulatory environments. It more generally contributes to the students’ development as aware global citizens.


The course offers an overview of selected themes and concepts in constitutional law understood as the set of rules governing:

  1. The State's exercise of public powers and the creation of law.
  2. The relationships between different constitutional bodies.
  3. The rights of individuals (and firms) vis a vis the State.

It emphasizes the contextual, comparative and transnational study of public law by addressing the evolution of constitutions within the broader historical, economic, and social context. The topics covered include:

  • General Categories: Features of legal systems; Functions and features of Constitutions; Sources of law.
  • Forms of State and Forms of Government: Diachronic analysis of Forms of State; Synchronic analysis of Forms of Government; Transitions to democracy; Electoral systems; Federalism, regionalism and devolution.
  • Constitutional Justice: Composition, role and functions of Constitutional and Supreme Courts; American and European models of constitutional review; Discussion of landmark cases.
  • The legal system of the European Union: System of legal sources and the relationship between European law and domestic legislation; the institutional structure; the evolution of the case law of the CJEU.
  • Individual rights: Political, civil and social rights and related safeguards in a comparative context.
  • Economic Constitution: Economic rights; Regulation of trade and commerce; Competition law; Monetary and fiscal policy.
  • Global Constitutionalism: the WTO and other supranational organizations.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO)


At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Define key concepts and institutions of public law.
  • Describe the nature and functions of Constitutions in their historical evolution.
  • Describe the nature and functions of specific public law institutions (e.g. parliament, judicial review, human rights protection).
  • Describe the features of specific institutions in selected jurisdictions, mostly in Europe and the US.
  • Describe the features and functions of selected supranational organizations, in particular the European Union.
  • Describe current constitutional law developments (e.g. globalization, illiberal trends).
  • Identify the political, social and economic factors that have an impact upon legal systems and constitutions.
  • Explain how similar problems of government are solved by different institutions in different national contexts.
  • Recognize constitutional law problems and challenges as they emerge in real-life.
  • Defend arguments about the advantages and disadvantages of specific public law institutions with particular regard to their economic and political consequences.
  • Summarize and communicate concisely the concepts and systems considered during the course.


At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Compare and connect public law institutions across geographical and historical contexts.
  • Comment on constitutional law developments as observed in the world.
  • Apply the legal categories and rules studied in class to real situations as emerging in everyday life or contemporary affairs.
  • Reflect upon how public law impacts on economic activities at the individual and collective level
  • Articulate opinions on the desirability of specific public law institutions and their consequences
  • Provide advice and suggestions on essential elements of constitutional and policy reform.
  • Develop legal reasoning skills.
  • Improve communication and argumentative skills.

Teaching methods

  • Face-to-face lectures
  • Guest speaker's talks (in class or in distance)
  • Case studies /Incidents (traditional, online)
  • Interactive class activities (role playing, business game, simulation, online forum, instant polls)


  • All classes are a combination of lectures and discussion.
  • During classes, the instructors presents students with problems drawn from legal decisions,recent constitutional history, and current political and constitutional developments which allow to critically apply the concepts studied during the course. Students may be divided in groups and asked to defend alternative solutions with regard to the problems being discussed.
  • The Course may take advantage of some of the many legal scholars which are regularly visiting Bocconi and invite them to give talks to the class on specific relevant topics.

Assessment methods

  Continuous assessment Partial exams General exam
  • Written individual exam (traditional/online)
  • Individual assignment (report, exercise, presentation, project work etc.)
  • Group assignment (report, exercise, presentation, project work etc.)
  • Active class participation (virtual, attendance)


With the purpose of measuring the acquisition of the above-mentioned learning outcomes, the students’ assessment is based on three main components:

  1. In-class participation including a group presentation. Attending Students are expected to ensure regular class attendance and to actively participate in class discussions and teamwork. This assesment method is aimed to test the students’ ability to interact in a constructive way and to think critically about the content of the course (20% of the final grade).
  2. Partial take home exam consisting of one short essay (2000 words +/-10 %). Students answer one from a choice of three questions provided by the instructors. The precise deadline to hand in the papers is communicated during the first week of the course. This assesment tests the students ability to think critically about the course content. It requires students to take a stance on one key issue discussed in class and to defend their opinions by adressing arguments and counter-arguments (30% of the final grade).
  3. Final written in-class exam consisting of a mix of multiple choice, short definitional questions, and one essay question. This assessment method is aimed to test the students’ substantive knowledge of the course content and their ability to describe it, summarize it, and contextualize it also by establishing connections between the various macro-themes dealt with (50% of the grade).

The final mark is determined as a sum of class participation and group presentation (20%), the partial take home exam (30%), the final in-class exam (50%).


For non attending students, 100% of the grade is determined by an in class final exam based on the entire textbook G.F. FERRARI, (ed.), Introduction to Italian Public Law, Milan, 2018.

Teaching materials


  • Selected chapters of G.F. FERRARI,(ed.), Introduction to Italian Public Law, Milan, 2018.
  • Additional articles as indicated in the syllabus, made available through blackboard by the instructors.
  • Readings, cases and materials provided during the course of the semester, made available through blackboard or distributed in class.
  • Slides and class notes.


  • G.F. FERRARI, (ed.), Introduction to Italian Public Law, Milan, 2018 (the entire book).
Last change 31/05/2019 13:45