07230 - Comparative Judicial Systems

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education Peace, justice and strong institutions Partnerships for the goals

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students are expected to know concepts, models and analytical tools allowing them to understand the role that judicial institutions play in contemporary democracies, how courts of justice can affect collective choices and the impact of judicial rulings on political systems. By comparing the two main legal traditions - common law and civil law - students will learn to detect similarities and differences between national cases, their respective variations over time, and their connections with supranational developments.

Course contents

The course is taught in presence. The number of students allowed in class is determined on the basis of class capacity and by the health and safety provisions that deal with the pandemic emergency. In case more students want to attend classes in presence than permitted by the rules, a system of shifts will be organized so to allow students to participate. Regardless of the health-related conditions and the specific organization of the course, students will be able to follow the lessons of the entire course remotely on MS TEAMS

I Introduction: Political system and judicial system - The role of the judge: independence and accountability -The judicialisation of politics

II The judiciary and the political system: The institutional settings: the relevant variables - Cases analysis -The governance of the judiciary

III The relations between justice and politics: The scope of jurisdiction - The role of supreme courts - Access to justice and public prosecution - The powers of the bench: inquisitorial v. accusatorial sytems - The judicial review of legislation: role and functions of constitutional courts - The enforcement of judicial decisions: political factors and public opinion

IV The supranational dimension: The Court of justice of the European Union - The Eucj and the national courts


C. Guarnieri e P. Pederzoli, Il sistema giudiziario. L'espansione del potere giudiziario nelle democrazie contemporanee, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2017.

(*) F. Donati, Dal Csm ai Consigli di giustizia europei. L'incerta diffusione di un modello costituzionale, in "Quaderni costituzionali", XLI, n. 2, 2021, pp. 355-373.

(*) A. Panebianco, Il potere, lo Stato, la libertà, Bologna, il Mulino 2004, capitolo IV

(*) P. C. Magalhaes, C. Guarnieri, Y. Kaminis, Democratic Consolidation, Judicial Reform, and the Judicialization of Politics in Southern Europe, in R. Gunther, P.N. Diamandouros, D.A. Sotiropoulus (eds), Democracy and the State in the New Southern Europe, Oxford, Oxford U.P., 2006, only pp. 138-175.

(*) M. Tabarelli, Le politiche giudiziarie inglesi negli anni 2000, in "Rivista Italiana di Politiche Pubbliche", n. 3, 2010, pp. 115-139.

(*) R. Hirschl, The Judicialization of Politics, in G.A. Caldeira, R.D. Kelemen, K.E. Whittington (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Law and Politics, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2008, pp. 120-141.

(*) G. Di Federico, Il giudice italiano come giudice europeo, in G. Di Federico (a cura di), Ordinamento giudiziario, Bologna, Bononia University Press, 2019, pp. 235-265.

Please note that (*) texts will be available on the website of the course IOL

Teaching methods


Assessment methods

Oral exam aimed at assessing the knowledge of the whole syllabus, the ability to connect the various parts of the programme, and overall the proper use of theories and concepts enabling students to carry out comparative analysis.

Teaching tools

Slides. When pertinent, institutional websites will be visited. 

Office hours

See the website of Patrizia Pederzoli