Postgraduate course

Constitution and Politics

  • ECTS credits10
  • Teaching semesterSpring
  • Course codeJUS286-2-A
  • Number of semesters1
  • LanguageEnglish
  • Resources

Semester of Instruction


Objectives and Content


Introduce students to Norwegian Constitutional law, its foundations and current challenges. The course is an interdisciplinary project between Faculty of social sciences, department of Comparative Politics and Faculty of law, and addresses the topic both from a legal perspective and from social sciences. The lectures will be given by teachers from both the faculties, as well as invited guests. The aim of the current subject is to bring together students who share the same interest for constitutional matters in the conjunction between law and politics, but who never meet in the spaces created by the university.

The course will introduce students to ongoing research on central aspects of constitutional development and bring students up to date on the frontiers of research and literature in the field, encourage active participation and independent thinking in engaging with the issues, provide a forum for students to present project proposals for master projects and develop their research skills Through this course the student will gain an overview of theoretical literature on the Norwegian constitution, and the relationship between rule of law and democracy. The constitution is an outcome of political activity, and at the same time it establishes the boundaries for all branches of the state, including the parliament, the central administrative apparatus and the Audit Office. The students will engage with the main theoretical perspectives to understand the dilemmas involved in securing the rule of law in a modern state, and the checks and balances between the executive, the legislator and the courts.


The constitution is the legal basis of all modern states, and in Norway the written constitution "Grunnloven" (from 1814) plays an important role. The executive power is vested with the King, the legislative power lies in the parliament, while the judicative power is conferred to a single court system, with the Supreme Court in Oslo. A special feature in Norway has been a rather conservative attitude concerning amendments and revisions to the written constitution. Partly, this conservatism can be traced back to the union with Sweden (1814-1905), where the parliament used the constitution as a form of shelter against Swedish influence.

The course will give an introduction to the principles and the architecture of three bodies of the state, and the checks and balances between them. Historically, the combat of constitutional power was between the King and the parliament, where the latter in the end turned out to be the strongest. An ongoing constitutional discussion is related to juridification and judicialization and issues of accountability. This has partly a national component where courts are setting aside parliamentary decisions due to constitutional norms, but the forefront of this discussion is the influx of international norms, like the European Convention of Human Rights and the European Economic Area. Another constitutional development relates to the growth of different forms of accountability mechanism, like the ombudsmen and auditing offices.

One aim of the course is to give an introduction of the "living" constitution which also include the role of political parties, the central government apparatus, the corporative arrangements and the principle of local self-government. The course will discuss constitutional policies and politics focusing on reforms and changes in the relationships between the executive, the legislator and the court. Comparative elements will be included when appropriate.

Learning Outcomes

The student should

  • acquire insights into how law and legal institutions constitute, shape and constrain political action under the Norwegian constitution, and how the legal institutions themselves are shaped by the political and social context.
  • gain a good understanding of central concepts and theoretical debates such as separation of power, rule of law and access to courts
  • be able to analyze how legal and political institutions in Norway effects on society

Required Previous Knowledge

Bachelor's degree in political sciences (or equivalent)
completed third year of master studies in law (or equivalent).

Recommended Previous Knowledge

Bachelor's degree in political sciences (or equivalent)
completed third year of master studies in law (or equivalent).

Access to the Course

The course is available for the following students:

  • Admitted to the integrated master programme in law
  • Admitted to the two-year master programme in law
  • Granted admission to elective courses at the Faculty of Law
  • Granted additional right to study following completed master degree in law at UiB
  • Exchange students at the Faculty of Law

The pre-requirements may still limit certain students' access to the course

Teaching Methods and Extent of Organized Teaching

Lectures and seminars.

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

Attendance at 75 % of lectures/seminars and approved paper, suggested number of words: 2500, notes included.

Forms of Assessment

Exam only in semesters with teaching.

Graded home exam (one week) and four hour digital school exam.

Information about digital examination can be found here:www.uib.no/en/education/87471/digital-examination


Grading is based on a joint evaluation of home exam and school exam, app. 50/50.

Resit of school exam only when mandatory elements are approved and home exam is passed.

A - E for passed, F for fail.

Exam language:

  • Question paper: English
  • Answer paper: English

Support materials allowed during exam:

See section 3-5 of the Supplementary Regulations for Studies at the Faculty of Law at the University of Bergen.

Special regulations about dictionaries at school exam

  • According to the Regulations for Studies, one dictionary is permitted support material during the examination. Bilingual dictionaries containing for example both Norwegian-English and English-Norwegian are considered as one dictionary.
  • Bilingual dictionaries to/from the same two languages - for example Norwegian-English/English-Norwegian - in two different volumes are also considered as one dictionary (irrespective of publisher or edition).
  • Dictionaries as described above cannot be combined with any other types of dictionaries.
  • Any kind of combination which makes up more than two physical volumes is forbidden.
  • In case a student has a special need for any other combination than the above mentioned, such combination has to be clarified with/approved by the course coordinator minimum two weeks before the exam. Students who have not been granted permission to have a special combination minimum two weeks before the exam will be subject to the usual regulations (Section 3-5) about examination support materials.

Subject Overlap

No overlapping with courses at the Law Faculty.

The course has partly the same themes as JUS281-2-A (Comparative Constitutional Law), but the overlap is limited. In JUS281-2-A the Norwegian Constitution is one of several constitutions included as object of comparison, while on this course the Norwegian constitution is the main object. Approaches are also different as this course draws on both legal and social perspectives.

The course has points in common with JUS121 (Norwegian and international legal institutions), but this course gives a short introduction to the Norwegian Constitution and tasks between states.

Course Evaluation

According to faculty routines.


Contact Information

Professor Karl Harald Søvig (jus) and Siri Gloppen (sam. pol.)

Contact information: elective-courses@jurfa.uib.no