This course is the graduate core course in public law for the Department of Government. It is required for those who take prelims in public law. The course is designed primarily for graduate students seeking to become professional political scientists; however, students in other disciplines with an interest in legal institutions are welcome and may find the course interesting and helpful. The main purpose of the course is to give students an overview of the field of public law in political science. Consequently, most readings are by political scientists even though public law is an interdisciplinary field.
A one semester course cannot include all topics in the field, nor can it assign all the "classics" or important works on the topics that are covered. Notable exclusions are works on jurisprudence, legal theory, Constitutional interpretation and history. These topics are considered more fully in other courses. A reading is selected for one or more of the following reasons: 1) it is a classic, or it is familiar to most students of public law, or it is part of the intellectual history of the field; 2) it is currently seen as important by the profession; e.g., it has recently been published in a major journal, or it has won the American Political Science Association's award for the best book in public law; 3) it is an example of an area or method of research. Given these criteria, all readings are not equally good, or interesting; indeed, you may consider some dreadful. Nonetheless, attention to all of these criteria is important for a core course. The course should provide students with a good sense of this very broad field.