UNISA Department of Public, Constitutional and International Law

UNISA Department of Public, Constitutional and International Law

Department of Public, Constitutional and International Law

This Department is responsible for a few very distinct areas of the law, namely constitutional law, public international law and indigenous law.

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What is Public, Constitutional and International Law?

These two fields of study cover the areas of the law that are sometimes referred to as ‘public law’. This indicates that the primary focus is on the relationship between the state and the individual (constitutional law) or between states themselves (international law). More specifically, constitutional law (in the wide sense) includes institutional constitutional law (the structures and powers of government), human rights law (or fundamental rights), the interpretation of statutes, and administrative law (the rules governing the state administration). There are also more specialised fields of study that are off-shoots of constitutional law (environmental law and security services law, for example). Secondly, public international law deals basically with legal relationships between politically independent states. Here, too, there are specialised fields such as international trade law, international human rights law, and so on.

What can a student do with a knowledge of these subjects?

Five modules offered by the Department, namely Constitutional Law, Fundamental Rights, Interpretation of Statutes, Administrative Law and General Principles of Public International Law, are compulsory modules for the LLB degree. The elective LLB modules and the LLM papers, are aimed at those who want to specialise in a particular field of study. Apart from the more obvious career opportunities such as those of attorney or advocate, the modules offered by the Department are also well suited to careers in related fields such as public administration, local government, the diplomatic service, practical politics, the military and law enforcement, journalism, history (especially political history) and political science.

What is Indigenous Law?

Indigenous law focuses on the study of the customary legal systems of the South African Bantu-speaking people. It covers amongst other topics the following:

  • Traditional leadership and systems of government
  • Traditional courts and court procedures
  • Traditional criminal offences
  • Traditional marriages, marriage property and relationships between marital spouses as well as between parents and children”
  • Traditional contracts as well as the law of delicts (civil wrongs)
  • Indigenous law of property, succession and inheritance.

What can a student do with a knowledge of Indigenous Law?

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Apart from the more obvious career opportunities such as those of attorney and advocate, a knowledge of indigenous law is indispensable for most multicultural contexts. The following are examples: employment contracts, labour relations, insurance agreements, mediation and arbitration, medical funds, administration of estates, traditional medicine and healers and healthcare.

The Department has a proud tradition of postgraduate supervision for those who would wish to further career prospects.

Contact us

Aministrative Officer:
Ms M Matlala 

Office: Cas van Vuuren 7-08
Tel: 012 429 8339
E-mail: [email protected]

Mrs Riana Pretorius
Office: Cas van Vuuren Building Room 7-14
Tel: 012 429 – 4149
Fax: 012 429 – 8587
E-mail: [email protected]