What is a constitution? When you hear the word constitution, do you think of a document such as the very well-named Constitution of America, or perhaps that of India, or France? But what about the English, or more accurately, the British Constitution? What does it look like? Can the British Constitution be found in similar documentary form? If so, where? Your answers are interesting and, I think, demonstrative of the uniqueness of the British Constitution. In terms of finding the constitution in Britain, this is a little more complicated than in most nations. An answer to the question, can the British Constitution be found in documentary form, the simple answer is no. If we were to adopt a narrow interpretation of the term constitution, we might argue that as there is no single book or document which we can describe as a British Constitution, then it's accurate to say that Britain has no constitution. However, this would not be a true reflection of our constitutional arrangements. Rather it is the case, as you have already discovered in week one, that the British Constitution does exist. But it's one of the few uncodified constitutions in the world. This means that it has not been drawn together as a single source, and therefore that there is no one book or document with a title that British Constitution. So, a constitution in the narrow sense relates to a single document which might be described as having special legal sanctity and forming a higher-order law. A wider and more accurate description of the British Constitution is provided by the House of Lords Constitution Committee. This definition explains that a constitution is a set of laws, rules and practices that create the basic institutions of the state, and its components unrelated parts, and stipulate the powers of these institutions and the relationship between different institutions and between those institutions and the individual. It is certainly the case that we have such arrangements and such structures in Britain, and indeed, although uncodified, it is also true that many of the sources from which the British Constitution might be drawn or found are actually written. Thus, it is more accurate to describe our Constitution as uncodified than unwritten. Again, as explained by the Hospitals Constitution Committee, the British Constitution contrary to popular description, is not "unwritten", a good part of it is written, but it is uncodified. It is, however, important to understand that whichever form a constitution takes, it is essentially a framework of rules which govern the relationships between the institutions of the state and between the state and its citizens. One final point worth a mention here is that it is relevant that most written or codified constitutions come into being after a fundamental political event, what we often refer to as a constitutional moment. For example, a revolution, the creation of a new country, or a confederate of independence. In Britain, we have, by contrast, had a relatively stable history, and arguably, the places we came to a codified constitution was in the mid-17th century with Oliver Cromwell short-lived instrument of government.