Constitutional Law Course Overviews

Constitutional law coursework focuses on the Constitution and the body of law that has developed as Americans have interpreted it in differing ways. Courses in constitutional law are most often taken as part of a degree program.

Essential Information

Many fields of study include coursework in constitutional law. Political science majors, for example, may be required to take upper-division courses in this area, especially if they are in pre-law or legal studies concentrations. In addition, those pursuing a career as a lawyer usually take constitutional law courses as part of a law school program, with some schools even offering the subject as a specialization. Graduates of such law programs may go on to a law career with a focus on constitutional law issues.

Courses in this subject range from an overview of the constitution to particular amendments and rights. Students learn the components of the constitution and how to interpret the document. Students might then study the branches of the government and separation of powers, as well as the implications of the First Amendment. They might also take a course covering the rights of those who have been accused of crimes, as well as the individual rights and equal protection that the Constitution provides.

Here's a list of concepts commonly discussed in constitutional law courses:

  • Freedom of speech
  • Protection from discrimination
  • Workplace privacy
  • Double jeopardy
  • Right to counsel
  • Cruel and unusual punishment
  • Due process

List of Common Courses

Constitutional Law Course

A constitutional law overview course generally covers the main themes of the Constitution, along with the development of constitutional law from the founding of America to present times. Topics covered might include the separation of powers, taxing and spending power, regulation of commerce and property rights. Basic techniques of constitutional interpretation will be explored and foundational cases will be examined in preparation for more specific constitutional law courses.

Federalism and Separation of Powers Course

This course examines the relationships between the three branches of federal government, as well as what relationship the federal government has with the states, as defined by the Constitution. Particular focus will be given to the Supreme Court and its constitutional jurisprudence. Political science majors also examine the powers of the president and congress, as well as the evolution of federalism.

First Amendment Course

This course covers the development of laws regarding the freedoms of speech, religion and the press, as well as the right to associate, examining precedent-setting court decisions. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment will be discussed regarding the limits it places on government. Political philosophies which have been at the root of competing legal positions will be discussed.

Rights of the Accused Course

The constitutional rights of those accused of crimes will be reviewed in this course. The amendments pertaining to due process, along with federal and state statutes will be examined. Students in this course gain an understanding of each person's constitutional rights regarding searches, trials, right to counsel and fair punishment.

Liberty and Equality Course

This type of advanced course examines the areas of individual rights to liberty and equal protection under the Constitution. Cases which have set precedents in the areas of discrimination or unequal treatment in both the public and private sectors will be investigated. Rights to privacy, which might include rights to due process, reproductive rights, end-of-life decisions and workplace privacy, will also be addressed.


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