Rory O’Connell of Queen’s University Belfast Law School has set up a website which will be of interest to people teaching UK or comparative constitutional law. The website includes a chronology of events and sources relevant to constitutional law. The resource focuses on evens in UK constitutional history though also includes references to Irish, European, International and comparative developments.
The chronology is intended to help students in a number of ways. First, it gives them a sense of constitutional developments over time. Students may come to constitutional law studies without a strong background knowledge of historical events which is important for understanding the context within which constitutional law develops.
Second, the chronology includes hyperlinks direct to primary legal sources where possible (eg the official UK legislation database version of the Bill of Rights or the Constitution of the Irish Free State).
Third, the chronology has references to the political and other developments that may influence constitutional law, thus assisting students in appreciating the wider social, political, philosophical contexts. These references include hyperlinks to material available on the web which may help the students develop some of the background knowledge their lecturers take for granted. The occasional links to Wikipedia entries may surprise some people though there is a clear warning that these should only be used for background knowledge and should not be relied on in academic work.
The resource focuses on UK constitutional law. Therefore much of it covers events in English constitutional history. Given the influence that English constitutional theory has had on western constitutionalism this is a valuable resource for comparative constitutional generally. The focus is not exclusively on English developments; there are references to events in the history of the other nations within the UK and in particular constitutional developments in Northern Ireland receive attention.
The chronology includes a section on legal and political events outside the UK. This should encourage students to think about the development of law in an international context. For instance, the English Revolution of 1688 should be seen in the political context of the Nine Years’ War (William of Orange’s struggle with France) as well as the constitutional struggles during the Stuart dynasty.
This chronology is the main resource on the website. There is also a twitter feed which includes tweets on constitutional law, human rights and equality, and a blogroll – unsurprisingly, this last includes Human Rights in Ireland.