Constituent Power in Federal and Multilevel Constitutions

Project opportunity

This Earmarked Scholarship project is aligned with a recently awarded Category 1 research grant. It offers you the opportunity to work with leading researchers and contribute to large projects of national significance.

This project will investigate the nature and function of constituent power in a selected sample of federal and multilevel constitutions, focussing on the extent to which constituent power is conceived in singular or plural terms, and the implications of such conceptions for the constitution's design and functioning.

The project will draw on conceptual, normative and comparative research on constituent power recently undertaken by scholars such as Loughlin 2014, Arato 2017, Colon-Rios 2020, Patberg 2020 and Rubinelli 2020, but with particular focus on the problem of applying the concept of constituent power within federations and multilevel systems, where there is often a tension between 'singular' and 'plural' conceptions of the people or peoples from whom the constitution derives its authority (Arato 2017:109-112).  In this respect, the project will seek to grapple with the fundamental idea that a 'federal contract' ordinarily underlies the formation of federal constitutions (Tierney 2022).

The project will focus on a particular federal or multilevel constitution (or small number of federal or multilevel constitutions) to be determined by the PhD candidate in consultation with the supervisory team. The project will also use a combination of conceptual, normative, comparative and case-study methods, likewise to be determined by the PhD candidate in consultation with the supervisory team.

Scholarship value

As a scholarship recipient, you'll receive: 

  • living stipend of $32,192 per annum tax free (2023 rate), indexed annually
  • tuition fees covered
  • single Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)


Professor Nicholas Aroney

School of Law


Preferred educational background

Your application will be assessed on a competitive basis.

We take into account your

  • previous academic record
  • publication record
  • honours and awards
  • employment history.

A working knowledge of the particular federal or multilevel constitution or constitutions to be examined by the thesis, as well as the official language or languages used in the relevant country or countries would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of constitutional law and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of comparative constitutional law, constitutional theory and federal theory is highly desirable.

Latest commencement date

If you are the successful candidate, you must commence by Research Quarter 2, 2023. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date.

If you are an international applicant, you may need to apply much earlier for visa requirements.

How to apply

You apply for this project as part of your PhD program application.

View application process