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  The Limits of Constitutionalism: Challenges to Constitutional Law and Human Rights

   Birmingham Law School

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  Dr Alan Greene  Applications accepted all year round  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Democratic constitutions are designed to both facilitate and restrict the exercise of power. Fundamental principles like the rule of law, the separation of powers, and human rights are often calibrated to carefully strike a balance between these juxtaposed objectives, and the vast array of constitutions in effect today are a testament to the variety of ways in which these objectives can be achieved.

But at what point does the ‘balance’ between these competing objectives break down? When do constitutions unduly restrict democratic power? Conversely, when are such restrictions insufficient to control the political branches? Should these restrictions be legal or political? And should there be a formal constitutional role for ‘the people’ beyond simply voting in elections? Indeed, given the development of international human rights courts such as the European Court of Human Rights, to what degree, if any, should domestic constitutional law account for these developments and, in turn, how should the European Court of Human Rights reflect constitutionalist values and respect for democracy in its jurisprudence while effectively protecting human rights?

This project welcomes proposals that explore the limits of constitutionalism broadly construed. Proposals may include but are not limited to: constitutionalism and states of emergency; constitutionalism and national security; constitutionalism and constituent power; constitutionalism and human rights; populism, democracy and constitutional constraints; the legitimacy of judicial review; and the legitimacy of the European Court of Human Rights.

Person Requirements

Applicants for a PhD will typically hold a Masters qualification at Merit level or above in law (or a subject related to the proposed area of research) or its international equivalent. Any academic and professional qualifications or relevant professional experience you may have will also taken into account.

For those intending to apply for funding, we require either a first class (or equivalent grade) at undergraduate or a distinction (or equivalent grade) at masters level. Most successful applicants will have both. 

More information and contact details are available here.

How to apply



We support funding applications via the UKRI, funding both doctrinal/theoretical/historical projects and socio-legal projects (available for both home and international applicants). For more general information on funding, including alternative sources, see here. Funding application deadlines for the two major funding streams are in January each year, so we encourage applicants to be in contact well ahead of this to discuss and refine your potential application.

Law (22)

Funding Notes

Any questions, contact Professor John Child (BLS) [Email Address Removed].

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